Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Importance of Sound

One of the essential elements of a game environment is sound effects. Bleeps, boops, crunch, bang, boom, they're all required to create the ultimate gaming experience. Obviously other things are more important, but a game without sound effects is like a banana split without the strawberry ice cream.

Menu sounds are just one group of sounds sed in a video game. Usually they are sounds used during gameplay as well (don't you love hearing that shotgun loading when you are selecting a menu option? And when you activate it, you hear a satisfying explosion!) but sometimes they're clicks or beeps designed specifically for the menu.

But the most important sounds have got to be the gunshots, explosions, etc. the player encounters during gameplay. Sound can not only aid in creating the correct feel and environment in the game, they can also provide valuable feedback to the player, kinda like hearing an alien loading his gun behind you signals you to run for cover. Sounds can also be used to create confusion and chaos, with soldiers yelling "I'm hit" or "cover me" all around while bullets fly and grenades explode in the distance (not to mention those annoying helicopters firing rockets into the ranks.)

At first impulse, sound effects might not seem like important features of games. But when you consider just how far a game today would get with few or no sounds, you realise just how vital they are to the success of video games. Sounds are not as crucial as lungs or a heart, but they are definitely as critical as, say, a kidney. So next time you are having a good time wiping out alien hoards or powersliding off a jump, remember the sound designers that worked hard to bring that unique gaming experience to you.

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