Sound for Games

An extension of this emotive building block in games is the music and audio soundtrack. Music has a profound effect on human emotional response, indeed many can catalogue the various highlights and trauma of their life through song or music tracks. Music used in many games is often incidental rather than containing themes for various characters. However, games that are film offshoots such as Harry Potter will tend to revisit the themes used for the films in order to retain the familiarity of the brand. Music can also reflect the era the game is set in by use of woodwind or brass instruments examples of this can be found in the Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather’s soundtrack created by Nino Rota who also music composed for such box office hits (Shakespeare’s: Romeo & Juliet, The Taming of The Shrew films) digitalised version produced for the game and later sequels reflected the advancement in technology and helps maintain familiarity of the franchise.


Game genres such as Call of duty and Medal of honour will also share musical characteristics. In particular, the incidental music used to set the scene will share the techniques of using strings (violins) to build up tension and brass instruments for sombre depiction. Piccolos and flutes are often used for light hearted sections and drums for impact. The oft ignored contribution to an audio game track is the Foley effects (named after Jack Foley, a Hollywood sounds effects artist, screenwriter and stand-in). For clarity of depiction of a sound, various techniques are used to imitate sounds such as horse hooves (empty coconut shells banged together) or the sound of a punch (hitting a melon). Creaking doors, gunfire, rain, thunder, laughter, tears, any type of sound required for the game would be produced by a Foley artist and edited into the audio tracks recorded for the game. The clear audio depiction of an action makes that action unambiguous and vivid to the listener. As audio has increased in importance in games, the use of multi track audio and spatial awareness along with surround sound allows for greater sensory and tactical awareness.


This is particularly true for games requiring stealth such as Socom where rapid movement through undergrowth will be heard by enemy forces. Likewise the ability to recognise the direction of a noise (front, rear or to the side) is essential in combat games like Call of duty. However, unless each player has surround sound and the ability to recognise the direction a sound emanates from it will not be a level playing field. The advantage will be with the player with the better equipment (this is well demonstrated by slower internet connections creating a time differential favouring the faster connection i.e. the slower connection doesn’t refresh the action quickly enough to indicate the other persons true position).