Thursday, 9 May 2013

Sound In Video Games

I cant think of any way a person could go through life without being affected or influenced by music, music can define lifestyle, culture and personality no matter how small or large a part it plays and there is no doubt that music has played a large part in history. Music has an undeniable power to evoke emotions and it affects how we perceive things. Just like art, music can be powerful, controversial and influential.

All that being said, I cant really stress enough how important music is in every walk of life. Within the world of media, music has always been a big part of the film and television industries with films like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and even older films like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly having their own defining original scores, its only really in recent generations that we have seen the sounds of video games matching the audio quality of such films with their symphonic orchestral scores.

Gone are the days of the beep, bop, boop of Pac-Man and Pong, as technology develops, faster processors, larger storage devices, so too has the audio quality of games. When the PS3 was released I had worked hard at my part time job to save up and buy myself a HD-TV and I used to go mad at my friends who would play theirs on old CRT televisions. As the technology has progressed within the consoles themselves so to has the technology within the peripheral devices needed to play the games and get the 'full' experience. You see, I'd also bought myself a cheap-ish surround sound set, and what a difference it made! So much so, I've not used the standard sound from my TV set for at least seven years! Once you get used to it and then switch back to the standard television speakers the difference is just unbelievable! And for me, that is what the sound, the music does, it makes the difference, it makes the experience what it should be, it evokes the emotions, the feelings, it delivers the final impact a game deserves.

Today, visuals are only half of the story, as sound in video games becomes more and more crucial, good sound design grounds a player in the environment, transports the player to the fabricated game world and importantly, lets the player know what’s going on around them. As you may be aware from previous blog posts, I'm very into my motor sport and a sucker for racing games, I love playing Gran Turismo with the surround sound. The sub-woofer can deliver the deep down growl of a v6 engine and the surrounding speakers makes it feel as though the other cars are really around me, close behind me or close on the inside going into a corner. Every other genre of game is only enriched by its sound though, the clinking and clanking of a Necramorph waiting around the corner in Dead Space builds the suspense and the tension, the ear piecing shrieks of gun fire surrounding you in a war game. And as the technology becomes more readily available and affordable, just as high definition television sets have over recent years, the demand in the market begins to rise and pushes things forwards. Although, as with HD when it was first released, it is hard to introduce people and get them on board, especially with sound. Seeing a leap in visual quality, in graphics, is easier, its much harder to convey the experience of a high-end surround sound set up, but as developers continue to strive for new and innovative ways of introducing the consumer to great sound quality, the sophistication of sound design should continue to grow with the demand.

The wonderful thing about the type of media a video game is, is that each component is there to compliment the other and the final product could simply not work without all of the cogs running smoothly in unison. So for me, sound in a video game is just as important as the visuals or anything else, whether it be an epic score, a catchy theme tune or the endless sound effects needing to be implemented in today’s games, the effect of being immersed within the games environment is probably the most important thing I desire from a game, and this could not be done without sound.

No comments:

Post a Comment