If you spent your entire childhood living and breathing video games, then it only makes perfect sense that you would opt for a career in video game production. Not many people realize the amount of work that goes into creating one video game. From animators to illustrators, and voice-over actors to sound designers, there are many pieces that fit together to create an immersive and exciting world for the game’s audience.
A sound designer is the person who creates and manipulates audio elements for a particular game. The first step that all aspiring sound designers must take is to decide if game audio is the right fit for them.
Being a video game sound designer might seem like it’s all fun and games, but it’s important to understand just how much work goes into the role. Aside from having a degree or sufficient experience in audio engineering, you also have to understand how to create emotion through sound, and be willing to devote a lot of time to mastering your craft and getting things right.
Your role as a sound designer will vary from job to job, depending on the company that you work for and the needs of the specific project you’re working on. However, there are a few general things that every sound designer needs, regardless of the circumstances.
1. Technical Chops
A video game sound designers job is extremely technical. You will have to learn and master how to use a variety of different hardware and software, as well as numerous different audio techniques. Even if you are well-versed in sound design before you begin, there still may be different applications that the company you are working for will want you to use. In these circumstances you must be willing to learn and ready to work hard.
Being able to communicate clearly and collaborate with your team is going to be crucial to the outcome of the overall project. Creating a video game is done through the work of many different people, in many different departments and it’s never a solo journey. Your ability to collaborate with your team members effectively and communicate with them clearly will make sure that the entire process goes over smoothly.
The sound designer is responsible for creating sound content, which is done in an audio workstation, and involves recording audio and then matching that audio with animations and environments in the game. Oftentimes, the game will already have a well-established style or aesthetic that you will have to match, but occasionally you will be asked to contribute your own style that works and blends well with the rest of the game. Keeping your creative wheels turning at all times will help you when it comes to the designing aspects of the job.
Being a video game sound designer often involves long, daunting work hours. In order to get something to sound exactly the way you want it to, a lot of time and work needs to be put it. This means working outside of the traditional nine to five workday, and often on evenings and weekends. Even though it can be tiring at times, watching your hard work come to life makes it all worth it.
If you’re passionate about video games and sound, and think you have what it takes, than a video game sound designer just might be the right job fit for you. Next, you’re probably wondering how you would go about becoming a video game sound designer, right? Well look no further, we’ve got you covered below.
The first thing that you need to do is learn absolutely everything you can about sound design and audio. Attending school for sound design is a good place to start, as it gives you access to state of the art, industry-standard software that you will need to learn how to use. It also gives you access to professors, who are often trained professionals, that can give you hands-on experience, one-on-one advice and offer constructive feedback.
While school is the first step, it probably won’t teach you everything you need to know. The best thing to do, is to make sure that you continue your education outside of the classroom. Take additional classes, watch tutorials, ask experts, do your own research, and above all – practice, practice, practice!
Make sure that everything you do, whether in school or outside of it, gets put into a portfolio for you to keep and revise. When you start searching for a job, your demo reel is going to be extremely valuable. Make sure that it showcases your creativity and some of your unique skills, as that is what will separate you from the crowd.
Testing yourself and giving yourself challenges is also a great way to make sure that you’re ready for a career in video game sound design. One way you can do this is by taking a film sequence or a video game trailer, removing the audio and then adding your own. When doing this exercise it’s important not to listen to or get caught up in the original audio, or you could end up trying to mimic it instead of creating your own unique take.
Once you feel you are ready to start applying for jobs, it’s important to keep an open mind and begin with a very large scope. Narrowing your options to only a few jobs or getting fixated on one specific company or position can lead to disappointment. Start broad and apply for anything that catches your eye, including freelance positions. Freelance work might not be the most stable or lucrative, but it allows you to make money while buffing up your portfolio of work. It also allows you to make connections in the industry, which could be valuable down the road.
Apply for similar jobs at companies you really love and want to work for. Maybe they aren’t hiring for a sound designer at the moment, but they may have a different position open that you are equally qualified for. Being flexible with job titles is important in the beginning, as it allows you to get in on the ground floor and then prove your worth to the company. Then when a sound designer job opens up, you will have a major advantage over the competition.
The last and most important thing to remember is to keep working hard and don’t get discouraged. Your efforts will eventually pay off!