The Importance of Sound Design in Video Gaming

Anyone who has played a video game at any time will be aware how sound and music plays a vital part in the overall experience. In fact, playing a game with poor sound reduces the enjoyment dramatically. Even basic sounds like footsteps, reloading a weapon or breathing can add tension, excitement and realism to the gaming experience.

Background music and jingles also play a massive part in the experience. Triggering a celebratory tune when completing a level or a more sombre one when losing a life helps to prompt emotional reactions amongest gamers. Just like movies and TV shows, video games need sound to work properly. Try playing one with the volume muted and you will understand why.

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Many video games feature memorable tunes that players can still remember many years later. Video game jingles have even made it into the music charts. Designers use sound effects to bring stories and virtual worlds to life. The chances are that game players will always remember the music and sounds associated with their favourite games. The music brings back memories and can trigger a nostalgic reaction.

In the iGaming industry, music and sound are also important. Playing a video slot, a bingo game or any other game found on online casinos is a much more immersive and entertaining experience when there is sound involved. The sound effects let the player know that it is their turn to play, that they have won money or that the game is over. These aural cues work in conjunction with the visuals to deliver a natural and captivating experience.

But it is not just a case of adding a few jingles, pops and whistles. The sound needs to be carefully designed to match the style and mood of the game. If the music is not right, the game will not be as playable. A great example is Alien: Isolation which uses music to maintain tension to great effect throughout the game.

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“Speaker” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Rust Studios

You may have also noticed that some video games have completely different compositions for each level. This is not by accident. The sound designers are tasked with making each level an independent experience with its own atmosphere. You might have a scary level, a fun level, a dangerous level or a romantic level. And each one will have its own music speciall composed.

A good example would be Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo System. The music, composed by David Wise, was adored by gamers. Tracks like “Jungle Groove,” with its funky piano backed by clarinets and animal sounds really captured the whacky jungle vibe of the game, while the underwater levels were played out to ’90s-inspired chill-out tunes such as “Aquatic Ambience.” Some of the music was good enough to be listened to in its own right and gamers would hum, whistle and nod along to the tunes while playing the game. Another iconic example is pretty much all music from the Legend of Zelda series by Nintendo, which has even been performed all over the world by classical orchestras.

For game developers, getting the sound right is as important as getting the visuals right. When players choose a favourite game, it is because it delivers the whole package. Even in the simplest format such as a game of slots, a great deal of effort is put into creating a sonic experience that is pleasing to the gamer and makes them feel comfortable.

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