Audio for Games I: Concepts, Assets and Implementation | Abertay University

Audio for Games I: Concepts, Assets and Implementation


The aim of this module is to introduce students to the interactive and real-time adaptive processes and structures that drive sound effects and music in video games. The module begins by highlighting the similarities and differences between linear media like film and interactive media like video games, and explores the challenges that this poses for the creative assets like sound effects and music. Working to a pre-written interactive video game framework, students will work to create detailed lists, sound assets and implement then through audio middleware.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with: a concrete understanding of how sound and music function within an interactive framework, as in computer gaming, and how this differs from other related media. Also, an applied knowledge and understanding of how sound and music are integrated into a dynamic medium, and how they can be made to respond and react to player input.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Discuss critically the use of sound; music; dialogue and associated processes within the context of a video game soundtrack.

2.  Use appropriate hardware and software to record; edit; design, and catalogue a complete set of video game sound assets.

3.  Use appropriate hardware and software to implement and test a complete set of video game sound assets to provide a fully functional adaptive video game soundtrack.

Indicative Content

1 Background

We will explore the technical limitations that defined early game soundtracks, and how these defined the sound of the first games.

2 Background

Modern soundtracks combine ideas from computer gaming, but also draw heavily on film soundtracks. We will examine the similarities and differences between the two, drawing conclusions on the roles and functions that sound and music play in a computer game.

3 Technology

The module will introduce the concept of a middleware engine, and explore its rise in use as technologies have developed and grown in complexity.

4 Analysis

We will explore the different modalities of sound, including spot effects, dialogue, music and ambience and discuss the contexts in which these are employed and how they work together.

5 Theory

We will look at adaptive methods for music and sound, introducing key concepts such as horizontal resequencing and vertical reorchestration, and examine examples of their use in practice.

6 Theory

We will consider the audio specification document, which details both the conceptual use of sound in a game, and its specific implementation and mechanics.

7 Professional practice

We will examine sound gathering and editing techniques relating to Foley, sound design and dialogue recording and editing, paying particular attention to those elements that involve creative collaboration and working with and directing the talents and skills of others (e.g. voice artists and musicians).

8 Professional practice

We will explore naming conventions and metadata, particularly with regard to automated processes for implementation and regionalisation, and identifying and protecting intellectual property.

9 Cultural Issues

How does the use of sound and music in computer gaming vary across cultures? We will explore the global marketplace and what this means for sound and music design, and what changes might be necessary for different international markets.

10 Case Studies

We will explore in detail how sound and music are used in gaming across a range of different formats and gaming platforms.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This module explores how sound and music work with the interactive media. We begin by looking at the first uses of sound in gaming, beginning with simple programmable sound generators before following its development through to today’s fully-orchestrated interactive scores and sound effects. We explore the similarities and differences between linear and interactive media, using this as a framework around which to design and build a set of game sound assets. We conclude with a number of case studies, which present detailed critical analyses of the use of sound in gaming, drawing on a range of classic and contemporary sources across a range of formats and gaming platforms. Delivery will be focused around one 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial each week, where students will get experience of sound design and content creation. Students will be set additional development exercises for completion outside of scheduled class time. For assessment, students will be set the task of speccing and creating a complete set of sound assets for a supplied computer game demo, as well as implementing them in an audio middleware.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 12
Tutorial/Seminar 12
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 20
Assessment 60
Independent 96

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2018/19 , and may be subject to change for future years.