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Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design

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An examination of the many complex aspects of game audio, from the perspectives of both sound design and music composition.A distinguishing feature of video games is their interactivity, and sound plays an important role in this: a player's actions can trigger dialogue, sound effects, ambient sound, and music. And yet game sound has been neglected in the growing literature An examination of the many complex aspects of game audio, from the perspectives of both sound design and music composition.A distinguishing feature of video games is their interactivity, and sound plays an important role in this: a player's actions can trigger dialogue, sound effects, ambient sound, and music. And yet game sound has been neglected in the growing literature on game studies. This book fills that gap, introducing readers to the many complex aspects of game audio, from its development in early games to theoretical discussions of immersion and realism. In Game Sound, Karen Collins draws on a range of sources--including composers, sound designers, voice-over actors and other industry professionals, Internet articles, fan sites, industry conferences, magazines, patent documents, and, of course, the games themselves--to offer a broad overview of the history, theory, and production practice of video game audio. Game Sound has two underlying themes: how and why games are different from or similar to film or other linear audiovisual media; and technology and the constraints it has placed on the production of game audio. Collins focuses first on the historical development of game audio, from penny arcades through the rise of home games and the recent rapid developments in the industry. She then examines the production process for a contemporary game at a large game company, discussing the roles of composers, sound designers, voice talent, and audio programmers; considers the growing presence of licensed intellectual property (particularly popular music and films) in games; and explores the function of audio in games in theoretical terms. Finally, she discusses the difficulties posed by nonlinearity and interactivity for the composer of game music.


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An examination of the many complex aspects of game audio, from the perspectives of both sound design and music composition.A distinguishing feature of video games is their interactivity, and sound plays an important role in this: a player's actions can trigger dialogue, sound effects, ambient sound, and music. And yet game sound has been neglected in the growing literature An examination of the many complex aspects of game audio, from the perspectives of both sound design and music composition.A distinguishing feature of video games is their interactivity, and sound plays an important role in this: a player's actions can trigger dialogue, sound effects, ambient sound, and music. And yet game sound has been neglected in the growing literature on game studies. This book fills that gap, introducing readers to the many complex aspects of game audio, from its development in early games to theoretical discussions of immersion and realism. In Game Sound, Karen Collins draws on a range of sources--including composers, sound designers, voice-over actors and other industry professionals, Internet articles, fan sites, industry conferences, magazines, patent documents, and, of course, the games themselves--to offer a broad overview of the history, theory, and production practice of video game audio. Game Sound has two underlying themes: how and why games are different from or similar to film or other linear audiovisual media; and technology and the constraints it has placed on the production of game audio. Collins focuses first on the historical development of game audio, from penny arcades through the rise of home games and the recent rapid developments in the industry. She then examines the production process for a contemporary game at a large game company, discussing the roles of composers, sound designers, voice talent, and audio programmers; considers the growing presence of licensed intellectual property (particularly popular music and films) in games; and explores the function of audio in games in theoretical terms. Finally, she discusses the difficulties posed by nonlinearity and interactivity for the composer of game music.

30 review for Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    Yeah this is pretty much the first book you need to read if you want to understand game audio design. Found it very late in my education, but I think my University should have had this as required reading...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Powe

    A solid primer on the history of game sound and the design of dynamic audio.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Williams

    it was a textbook but still good.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael Scott

    I read Game Sound by Karen Collins in a rush, so maybe my review is too harsh: I wanted to understand how sound is produced for (computer and video) games, how different game genres typical for indie game dev can use sound, what are the typical processes for outsourcing sound production, and what are the main free tools I could use in a start-up or student setting. Overall, I found answers for roughly a quarter from all my questions, but also found an interesting section on procedural sound gene I read Game Sound by Karen Collins in a rush, so maybe my review is too harsh: I wanted to understand how sound is produced for (computer and video) games, how different game genres typical for indie game dev can use sound, what are the typical processes for outsourcing sound production, and what are the main free tools I could use in a start-up or student setting. Overall, I found answers for roughly a quarter from all my questions, but also found an interesting section on procedural sound generation. On the positive side, the book covers an interesting and necessary set of topics: Chapters 1-4 set the problem and cover the history of game sound (a bit shallow); Chapter 5 presents the main process for producing game sound (similar but not identical to film sound production); Chapter 6 discusses the inter-licensing of doing between games and the proper music industry (very, very dry); Chapter 7 (mistitled to seem broad, vs the actual content) discussed mainly immersion and why it is not easy to achieve with traditional methods; Chapter 8 (the best, in my opinion) discusses the need for compositional approaches, especially procedural, for game sound, and surveys many previous and current techniques in this area; and Chapter 9 concludes. I also liked the references, although not so many that I found new (so, my fault). I found really useful material in the chapter about procedural sound generation, so this explains my overall positive rating (which goes contrary to the overall tone of my review). On the negative side, besides the imbalanced writing style (the dry passages do not match the otherwise good technical writing), the coverage of the subject is imbalanced and often plain shallow. A few examples: a few games, all big-budget and corresponding to AAA titles, are used in most (if not all) explanations; although Chapter 7's title seems to indicate that "genre" will be covered extensively, there is little beyond MMORPG, action, and FPS games; etc. The consequence of this imbalance is that very popular game genres, from casual to action-RTS (MOBAs, including DotA2), are omitted; there is also, for my personal curiosity, the issue of not answering to my main questions. Other issues, such as the shallow treatment of the material in tables, and the scarcity of quantified elements (sizes, counts outer prettiest, breakdowns of expected durations for various production steps, rates of completion or other metrics of success, etc.) make this text perhaps less suitable for learning about the actual production of sound. It may also prevent even drier text at points, so perhaps it is to much to ask. To conclude: a good, no-frills, at points dry and at others shallow introductory course.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark Poulsen

    The book explores game audio mainly from a perspective of audio production. It looks at game audio within three overall themes: history (with a focus on technological possibilities), industry and functionality (in relation to game design and needs of a game). The last part definitely felt the most like an introduction, and I will be looking more expansive litterature on the subject. Nevertheless, this book is a very good starting point for understanding interactive audio in the context of video The book explores game audio mainly from a perspective of audio production. It looks at game audio within three overall themes: history (with a focus on technological possibilities), industry and functionality (in relation to game design and needs of a game). The last part definitely felt the most like an introduction, and I will be looking more expansive litterature on the subject. Nevertheless, this book is a very good starting point for understanding interactive audio in the context of video games and interactive media. While relatively old, it still poses relevant questions that I am sure have been taken up in later works both by Collins but also by other scholars. I most enjoyed the first chapters detailing the historical developments of video game audio as it highlights very well that the style of analysis suitable for understanding game audio in the past is severely contingent on understanding the influence of the technological possibilities. It is only in the 2000s and onwards that game audio and music can be seen as a distinct art form on its own - where game audio finds its conventional art form approaches. It is a field in continuous development, which of course inevitably renders this book outdated. But not yet, and perhaps never, given its excellent introductory account of the history.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This book is certainly unique and worth a read by people with enough background in music to understand the concepts presented, with its first 3 chapters standing out in particular with their in-depth exploration of the technical aspects of classic video games systems and the implications of that on the music produced during that era. Starting from Chapter 4, the tone shifts progressively towards the speculative territory and into the author's personal research, achieving mixed results. Online ga This book is certainly unique and worth a read by people with enough background in music to understand the concepts presented, with its first 3 chapters standing out in particular with their in-depth exploration of the technical aspects of classic video games systems and the implications of that on the music produced during that era. Starting from Chapter 4, the tone shifts progressively towards the speculative territory and into the author's personal research, achieving mixed results. Online games also assume a disproportionate space in the narrative, which can be good or bad depending on the reader (bad for me). With the benefit of reading her writings from the future, we can see how some ideas just didn't materialize or were coming from the wrong place. Anyway, still a good resource and something with value even today.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peter Smith

    Granted this is one of the earlier texts dealing with video game music, but I found the structure a bit disorganised, the coverage on topics inconsistent, and there are numerous notation and transcription errors in the sheet music examples. That said, this book still has something to offer anyone interested in the medium, but it's more of a series of interesting discussion pieces rather than anything definitive. Granted this is one of the earlier texts dealing with video game music, but I found the structure a bit disorganised, the coverage on topics inconsistent, and there are numerous notation and transcription errors in the sheet music examples. That said, this book still has something to offer anyone interested in the medium, but it's more of a series of interesting discussion pieces rather than anything definitive.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

    The theory, practice, and history of computer game music. Includes many sheet music examples. (I know I've liked a book when I spend time in the notes and bibliography sections. :-) ) The theory, practice, and history of computer game music. Includes many sheet music examples. (I know I've liked a book when I spend time in the notes and bibliography sections. :-) )

  9. 5 out of 5

    kayla reed

    This book provides a very nice primer on the basics of the theory, ideas, technology, and application of interactive and adaptive audio in games. I definitely enjoyed delving into this.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Works as a history of video games to 2008 and includes some meaty info on the how-tos and considerations involved in creating game sound.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    A nice introduction into game sound. Although I suspect alot of the information is now dated and the technologies used today have evolved from the one's described. Still a useful resource. A nice introduction into game sound. Although I suspect alot of the information is now dated and the technologies used today have evolved from the one's described. Still a useful resource.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cristina Aguilar

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tashed Anchor

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jojo

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicolas

  16. 5 out of 5

    Werther Azevedo

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Francis

  18. 5 out of 5

    Niko

  19. 4 out of 5

    William

  20. 4 out of 5

    Panagiotis

  21. 4 out of 5

    Josep Maria

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sean Tudor

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zach

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lee Rose

  25. 5 out of 5

    Enoch

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tom Kline

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jo Star

  28. 5 out of 5

    João

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joshua D

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cesar

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