Monday, 11 February 2013

Elements of Game Technology, part two: sound for games

Sound is undoubtedly a massive part of games. Video games and life in general wouldn't be the same without music, it has an incredible ability to invoke emotions and resonate with all of us. I find music is what really brings something together and ties it all in. Without even watching the film or game, music and sound in general takes you through the story and you can imagine whats happening. For example you can instinctively tell when there is tension building, something scary happening, something very sudden and unexpected or the drama is escalating. Music in this way is an incredibly powerful tool that in some cases can be even more moving that what we are actually seeing. Games and films would both loose much of their appeal and enjoyment without the music to back them up and engage with us.

The majority of the public who enjoy watching films or playing games probably don't bother with learning the names of all the important people that go into making it, such as the directors or producers, but there are always some big names that are well known. However directors and producers have a much greater chance of getting their names known than the composers or score producers, these people more than likely just fade into the background, despite being a huge part of the success. If there was no music in films or games we just wouldn't like it as much, but we might not realize, at first, why that was.

There are lots of good music composers out there working in the film and game industry which tend to have their own defined and recognizable sound. One who I can immediately think of that most people will know, if not by name but his work, is Hans Zimmer. He is the composer for films such as; Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, Inception and the hugely successful and very recognizable Pirates of the Caribbean. I personally don't know of many composers as I'm guilty of not paying much attention to the credits, but Hans Zimmer is a composer I have been aware of for several years. His sound/style is so recognizable that I immediately made the connection between the music for Gladiator and Pirates of the Caribbean, I didn't know they were both done by the same composer but it was immediately obvious when hearing them. The list of films and even some games that he has composed for is pretty impressive.

As films are more often than not actual recordings of living people I think its easier for us to believe them and become emotional involved in them and there for enjoy them. Despite video games getting better graphics and becoming more realistic they still aren't a substitute for a real person with subtle facial expressions etc., that tweak our basic human reactions. I think this makes it harder for us to get emotionally invested in games, even if we do enjoy them. This is why music becomes so important in games, its another layer of the drama and the excitement. Well picked music used intuitively connects with us on a deeper level, one we might no even realize and helps to draw us in and become invested with the game. Video games especially just wouldn't been the same without sound. 

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