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Developing Sound Effects for Video Games

In the beginning, there was “Pong,” the one-dimension arcade video game with an iconic blip-blip of the bouncing “ball” that players moved from side to side to intercept with paddles.

Next came “Space Invaders.” Its continuous sound effects put the evolution of gaming sound on a course that now, 40 years later, features full orchestral, melodic and lyrical tracks.

Over the same period, video games have exploded in popularity, hitting a peak of $191 billion in 2021. A lower total of $188 billion was expected for 2022, but this amount still eclipses the $151 billion spent in 2019 before the pandemic.

The resumed strong sales are driving demand for software developers, including game developers, with job opportunities through 2031 growing by 25%, much faster than average. And gamers demand compelling music and effects, placing a premium on college grads with expertise in producing high-quality soundtracks acquired while studying video game development.

“Competition in the mobile market is incredibly stiff, so having a clearly distinguishable soundtrack helps increase brand awareness and makes the game more recognizable,” according to Exyte, a development and staffing provider.

How Do Game Developers Tune Soundtracks to Meet Players’ Personalities?

A game’s choice of music must fit the tone of the game, Exyte notes. For example, calm and steady play should feature relaxing music. On the other hand, exciting games need fast-paced music that keeps players active and engaged.

Moreover, research has found connections between gamers’ personalities and their preferred music. Articles posted on 1 Library and 16 Personalities, for instance, found these correlations:

  • Introverted gamers, who can lose themselves in the details of building empires, are most likely to enjoy rock ranging from metal to gothic.
  • Extraverts get their kicks playing competitive games and matching their mastery with others, typically choosing urban, pop, dance, trance, techno and other Top 40 genres.
  • Players who seek new experiences of unrestricted, open-world games enjoy elite music, which researchers defined as jazz, orchestral and religious music.
  • Perfectionists, also described as growth-oriented players, typically choose non-competitive role-playing games that take them on various explorations and prefer urban, pop and elite music.

“While keeping demographics in mind may feel to us as though we’re being motivated by less-than-artistic considerations, it’s good to remember that significant art can be achieved while also compensating for factors that have nothing to do with art,” said one researcher, describing the importance of matching soundtracks to gamers’ personalities.

What Is the Best Way to Prepare for a Career in Video Game Development?

Because creating soundtracks and matching them with gamers’ personalities are critical to success, college graduates whose game-development curricula include studies of various music genres have an advantage in the competition for in-demand roles.

For instance, Lamar University’s Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Computer Game Development includes general education core curriculum courses that explore major style periods, such as Music Appreciation, Jazz History and Appreciation and History of Rock and Roll. According to gaming research, these styles are prominent in video game development.

In addition to the music studies, the 100% online program equips graduates with realistic hands-on game programming and development experience, 3D animated simulations and skills practice that hones the expertise in creating recreational games for the global market.

Learn more about Lamar University’s online B.S. in Computer Game Development program.

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