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There's a whole world behind a video game's soundtrack and sound effect. Everything must be fine-tuned to the slightest detail. A banging sound is a real value added to the gameplay.
16 Mar 2018
The video games sector has been undergoing a solid expansion for the past few years. This economic growth, combined with technological advancement making games more and more immersive to the smallest detail, is opening up the market to a much more differentiated set of career paths.
Video games sound design is a particularly rising sector. This kind of career can be the dream of anyone who is passionate about the field, but it also requires many different skills, extensive practice and detailed knowledge.
The job itself consists in recording, producing and editing sounds for gameplay and cutscenes. These sounds then need to be implemented into the game through a middleware, which can be commercial or proprietary of the videogame producer the sound designer works for.
If you are interested in this career path, a specific education is necessary. Sound Design courses and degrees are now widely diffused in the UK, with some very good BAs offered by Music Academies and Universities. However, after learning the theory of sound design, a lot of practice and hands-on experience is essential to make your CV more valuable to employers.
When applying to a job as a sound designer, your portfolio is an asset of irreplaceable value. For this reason you should focus of working on as many projects as you can. There is a number of internships available in the sector and they can provide you with good experience with specific tools and within a real work environment, while also giving you the chance to work on actual projects you can include in your portfolio.
If you can’t manage to land an internship, keep working on any project: gain some practice replacing sounds of existing games or take part in independent projects. Training your ear and developing a personal technique is essential to succeed in this career.
Soft skills should never be overseen, especially for a position which requires constant teamwork within the sound engineering team as well as with different departments. Being able to understand the producers’ and the editors’ needs and requests and delivering them on time is key to perform well in such a fast paced environment. Patience is a must-have requirement for a job that you may have to keep doing for many hours per session in order to reach the desired result.
It would also be a mistake to underestimate the importance of networking: all of your work has to stand out and get to the right people. It’s advisable to attend meetings, conventions, talk to professionals, friends, colleagues and make sure to make them listen to your work. This way you can get feedback, constantly improve and, if you are lucky enough, even be hired by some industry professional who liked your portfolio.
Any experienced sound designer will tell you the same: starting is hard, takes a lot of hard work and practice and even once you get a good position you often feel stressed by long hours and approaching deadlines, but it’s all worth it when you listen to the finished work sounding exactly like you imagined.