Vast amounts of time and skill are invested in video game design annually. Everything you see and hear, and every move you make in a game was first drawn, composed and spelled-out in code by someone else for our enjoyment.
When gamers geek out about the games we play, there’s usually a lot of talk about the visuals and sometimes a bit of chatter about the story, but a game’s audio is often taken for granted during casual critique. It’s true that good sound direction tends to be subtle, but it adds such an important emotional dimension to gameplay that playing video games with the sound muted can be a very different experience.
Individual sound effects, like footfalls and jangling coin-sounds, are the straightforward stuff of game audio, but what about the music? In the movies, music crescendos before kisses and screams “WOO-HOO!” during car chases for a reason. Savvy game-makers perform the same sort of emotional manipulation to make gameplay more immersive, but there’s one element the makers can’t control: The players.