Asbjoern Andersen


What's next for game audio? We got the chance to speak with Becky Allen - head of audio at PopCap/Electronic Arts, and keynote speaker at GameSoundCon - about just that. And here, she shares her insight on the current challenges, advancements, and future opportunities in the game audio industry:
Written by Jennifer Walden
Please share:
 

GameSoundCon is coming up quickly — Nov 7-8th in Los Angeles. The two-day conference explores tools and topics relevant to sound designing and composing for games, VR, and AR. This year’s keynote speaker is Becky Allen, head of audio at PopCap/Electronic Arts in Seattle, WA. She has over 20 years of experience in sound, composing and sound designing for companies like Microsoft, Soundelux Design Music Group, and PopCap Games —where she recently handled audio direction for Plants Vs. Zombies Heroes.

Allen doesn’t just simply work in the game audio industry. She also facilitates the expansion of the craft. Allen is a founding volunteer of the Audio Mentoring Project — a mentoring program in which game audio veterans use their extensive networks of contacts and industry experience to encourage the learning and development of less experienced members of the game audio industry.

Here, Allen shares her thoughts on GameSoundCon, as well as gives insight on current challenges, advancements, and opportunities in the game audio industry. Find out what she sees for the future of game audio.

 

What’s one advancement you’ve seen in game sound in the past year that you’re excited about?

Becky Allen has pink and blonde hair and sits in front of her workstationBecky Allen (BA): There’s a renewed focus on the importance of accurate 3D spatialization of audio through VR/AR and a lot of excitement around that. VR/AR is still the new frontier for audio and our fellow sound designers and creators are tackling new and interesting issues. I look forward to hearing their work as it advances.

Audio in VR/AR is a key and essential part to maintaining the illusion of a virtual world and if audio isn’t working well, the experience breaks. Because of this, we see more emphasis on the sound and its significance for this new platform.

 

What’s the biggest challenge for game audio at the moment? How do you see that resolved in the future? Tech wise, what would you want to see for game sound?

BA: Regardless of the size and scope, systems for delivering dynamic and captivating content are becoming more complex. The complexity of systems requires deeper understanding of scripting and at some points coding. These skills are becoming more important for a sound designer to develop.

Tech-wise, it’s the same that we have been developing for decades — more and better tools in the hands of the sound designers and composers. Our tools have made great advancements and we continue to drive these innovations through new ideas and creative desire.

GameSoundCon in Los Angeles, 7-8 November

Creatively, what would you like to see in the future for game sound?

BA: With the increased amount of data collection that we now see coming from gameplay, we are able to craft individual experiences for each player on a finer level. We can drive unique experiences for each player that is different, believable and compelling each time — much like our real-world experience. Creatively this opens up many possibilities for designers in all areas: sound design, music design, and voice.

 

You’re the first female keynote speaker at GameSoundCon. Can you tell us a little about that conference and why you would recommend it to your peers and newcomers to the industry?

BA: GameSoundCon (Nov 7 – 8, in Los Angeles) is a conference specifically for audio people. It’s a great conference to learn about new tools, share skills and knowledge, and also to network.

This is a smaller conference than GDC, which is wonderful but can be overwhelming. At this conference, you have more quality time with the participants and can really dig into deeper topics and have more substantial connections with individuals.

Also, to acknowledge your statement above, yes, I am delighted to be the first female keynote speaker and I hope the first of many.

 

Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • Recording of an American Chevrolet Camaro race car, NASCAR style built in 2001,  with a small block V8 engine.


    The American Chevrolet Camaro race car sound library includes 194 sounds in 22.47 gigabytes of audio of a NASCAR stock car. Built in 2001, it showcases the sound of a Chevrolet small block V8 engine.

    The bundle gathers 17 onboard and exterior perspectives in 11 synchronized takes. The 7 exterior perspectives feature driving at fast, medium, and slow speeds while the race car departs, passes, and arrives. The 10 onboard perspectives mount microphones at engine, exhaust, and in the interior and capture driving with steady RPMs, gearshifts, and ramps.

    The collection features Reaper and Pro Tools editing sessions, custom mixes of the onboard perspectives, 19+ fields of professional Soundminer, BWAV, and MacOS Finder metadata, and metadata import files in 7 languages.

    Add to cart
  • Foley Resistance Play Track 244 sounds included $15.40 $10.40

    I would love to introduce you to sound library that is a little different:

    “Resistance” is a library that I’ve created while working on a Game Collaboration and an animation series – and it has been essential to my sound designs and editorial touches towards the final product in all productions. It has truly proven itself as being as a really helpful asset in a number of different circumstances, from characters growth and transformations to jumping elements in a cartoon style!

    This library contains 72 files – and every single one of them is provided with variations for an expanded use for your production. All sound elements were recorded under controlled conditions to ensure that all the details of the sounds were captured in a dry recording environment.

    All the content has been recorded with two kinds of microphones: RODE NT2A gave the sounds their low-mid detail; and a Sennheiser ME66, which is a shotgun microphone with a strong characteristic in the high mid frequencies.

    Let your designing imagination be the limit of your creation!

    32 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597960799
    Add to cart
  • Clockworks Vol.2 is here. A new cinematic trailer loops collection of never-ending tick-tock, custom metal ticking, antique tick-tock, metronomes and grandfather clocks not recorded from traditional clock sources.

    Sounds have been designed out of field recording, found sounds and various organic sources processed to provide you a creative toolbox.
    Use loops as they come or combine them together to create your very own unique ticking sequences from simple clicking to the most complex mechanical clockworks.

    The sonic quality extends a large spectrum from modern to old, clean and rusty which allows you quick access to a range of clock-related sound effects organised in 4 WAV folders and 7 Kontakt instruments of rich, varied loops ready-to-use for any project.
    All sounds are looped and synced in Kontakt to perfectly match the bpm of your project.

    19 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597874399
    Add to cart
  • Tormented hypnotic backgrounds, abstract noises, sonic mutations and cinematic evolutions, textural tones for visuals, trailers and film soundtrack, media sound design and ambient music that can be used individually or combined together to create infinite variations of sonic moods.

    The core concept of OPIUM is to create a collection of narrowband textures that sit between the 2nd and the 3rd octave, not completely filling the audio spectrum and leaving plenty of room for bass, melodic parts and other sound design elements.

    OPIUM has been produced with no synthesis at all, instead, all sounds have been processed from field recording and raw audio pieces, to present you an exclusive sound set.

    Each sound works perfectly as an immediate mood setter to create tense and uneasy dramatic pieces, dark and menacing sonic background. Furthermore, by laying together you can quickly create absolutely huge audio moments.

    For sound designers, composer and audio creatives at any level.

     

    19 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597874399
    Add to cart
  • Household Gardening Play Track 57 sounds included, 62 mins total $40 $20

    A collection of gardening related sounds. Most of the sounds, such as digging soil, pruning roses, raking leaves, mowing grass and leaf blowing are recorded in a domestic garden. There are also some larger scale public garden sounds such as wood chipping, a sprinkler and chainsaws and there are also some ambiences of a garden centre store.
    All recorded in England.

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1600380000
    Add to cart


Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

How is the game sound industry preparing for/handling the VR format (workflow, tools, staff skills)?

BA: I am not currently working in VR so I do not have first-hand experience with this. However, companies are emerging with new tools, new headphones, and new ways of listening. I find it intriguing that people are finding audio acoustic programs (Masters and PhD level) with an emphasis in psychoacoustics. Some of these students coming out of school with this knowledge now have a place to apply their education where perhaps before that wasn’t quite possible.

 

What opportunities do you hope VR will offer game sound pros?

BA: With the emphasis on the immersive experience being more pronounced, there are many opportunities for sound designers, in particular, to find a footing here.

More insights on the future of game audio:

 
Want to know more about what awaits in game audio? Be sure to check out the interviews with former Rockstar North audio director Matthew Smith here, and senior audio director/sound designer Ben Minto at EA DICE here.

Beyond VR and AR, any other major trends you’re seeing?

BA: Yes, culturally I see that corporations are now discussing and developing programs addressing gender gaps and diversity. I’m really happy to see these changes happening and being addressed.

However, change happens on all levels – individual to individual, within team groups at work, etc. True change of this kind is something that has to be looked at systemically as well as based on individual effort. I hope that we will continue to address the issues through discussion, initiatives, and conference roundtables, etc., until balance is attained (yes… an idealist!).

 

For game audio pros, how do you see the landscape changing in terms of job opportunities, must-have skills, platforms to focus on etc?

BA: The deeper and more complex systems that are being developed on all platforms suggest that sound designers, or any in-house audio person, have skills in scripting and coding as it applies to implementation. Knowledge in Python scripting, XML, and C++ are helpful but not currently considered a requirement. These skills and a person’s ability to “problem solve” through technological solutions and tool building are areas for growth and ways for young designers to focus and find more opportunity.

 

Do you have any advice for the next generation of game sound professionals? What should they be prepared for if they’re entering the industry in the next year?

BA: Immerse yourself in networking with local communities and connecting with other working professionals. You will find it a friendly and encouraging community. No need to be discouraged if you go to just one meet-up and nothing material seems to happen. Keep going and introduce yourself multiple times. The people in the industry remember when an individual continues to show up to networking events. It shows commitment and tenacity. People are prone to help individuals after they have seen you over the course of many networking events.

A big thanks to Becky Allen for all her great advice – and to Jennifer Walden for the interview!

 

Please share this:


 


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • Huge deep and textural organic whoosh by’s. These are un-altered but a total blast. Want more fun, just (again) compress and pitch to fit, and hell, maybe add a little distortion.

    A great collection of organic sliding whooshes. They sound great, have lots of movement and are almost always complicated movements not just simple whoosh by’s.

    Add to cart
  • Weapons of World War II is Super Thumps first of many sound libraries recorded and designed by film and video game industry veterans!
     
    This library features 14 different weapons, some of them quite rare, that were commonly used in World War II between German and American forces. The weapons were recorded at various distances, perspectives, and firing modes with a wide array of microphones. They have been compiled together and designed with a punch at 96,000 Hz, 24-bit, ready for you to easily drop into your project! Each weapon contains multiple variations and versions.
     


    Weapons included:

    M1919 Browning Machine Gun – Single Shots, Burst, Full Auto
    M1911 Colt 45 Pistol – Single Shots
    BAR M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle – Single Shots
    Gewehr 43 Rifle – Single Shots
    M3 Grease Gun Submachine Gun – Single Shots, Burst, Full Auto
    Karabiner K98 Rifle – Single Shots
    Luger Pistol – Single Shots
    M1 Carbine Rifle – Single Shots
    M1 Garand Rifle – Single Shots and Empty “Ping!” Shots
    MG42 Machine Gun – Burst, Full Auto
    MP40 Submachine Gun – Single Shots, Burst, Full Auto
    P38 Walther Pistol – Single Shots
    M1 Thompson Submachine Gun – Single Shots, Burst, Full Auto
    M1903 Springfield Sniper Rifle – Single Shots
    Add to cart
  • Badlands Sound went to the future to recorded 42 room tones of various spaces like computer rooms, engine rooms, bathrooms, and much more all in 24bit / 96k. We also recorded electrical buzzes and distorted sci-fi winds. More than 2 hours of futuristic room tones and ambiences included in total.

    83 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Recording of an American Chevrolet Camaro race car, NASCAR style built in 2001,  with a small block V8 engine.


    The American Chevrolet Camaro race car sound library includes 194 sounds in 22.47 gigabytes of audio of a NASCAR stock car. Built in 2001, it showcases the sound of a Chevrolet small block V8 engine.

    The bundle gathers 17 onboard and exterior perspectives in 11 synchronized takes. The 7 exterior perspectives feature driving at fast, medium, and slow speeds while the race car departs, passes, and arrives. The 10 onboard perspectives mount microphones at engine, exhaust, and in the interior and capture driving with steady RPMs, gearshifts, and ramps.

    The collection features Reaper and Pro Tools editing sessions, custom mixes of the onboard perspectives, 19+ fields of professional Soundminer, BWAV, and MacOS Finder metadata, and metadata import files in 7 languages.

  • Foley Resistance Play Track 244 sounds included $15.40 $10.40

    I would love to introduce you to sound library that is a little different:

    “Resistance” is a library that I’ve created while working on a Game Collaboration and an animation series – and it has been essential to my sound designs and editorial touches towards the final product in all productions. It has truly proven itself as being as a really helpful asset in a number of different circumstances, from characters growth and transformations to jumping elements in a cartoon style!

    This library contains 72 files – and every single one of them is provided with variations for an expanded use for your production. All sound elements were recorded under controlled conditions to ensure that all the details of the sounds were captured in a dry recording environment.

    All the content has been recorded with two kinds of microphones: RODE NT2A gave the sounds their low-mid detail; and a Sennheiser ME66, which is a shotgun microphone with a strong characteristic in the high mid frequencies.

    Let your designing imagination be the limit of your creation!

    32 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597960799
  • Clockworks Vol.2 is here. A new cinematic trailer loops collection of never-ending tick-tock, custom metal ticking, antique tick-tock, metronomes and grandfather clocks not recorded from traditional clock sources.

    Sounds have been designed out of field recording, found sounds and various organic sources processed to provide you a creative toolbox.
    Use loops as they come or combine them together to create your very own unique ticking sequences from simple clicking to the most complex mechanical clockworks.

    The sonic quality extends a large spectrum from modern to old, clean and rusty which allows you quick access to a range of clock-related sound effects organised in 4 WAV folders and 7 Kontakt instruments of rich, varied loops ready-to-use for any project.
    All sounds are looped and synced in Kontakt to perfectly match the bpm of your project.

    19 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597874399
  • Tormented hypnotic backgrounds, abstract noises, sonic mutations and cinematic evolutions, textural tones for visuals, trailers and film soundtrack, media sound design and ambient music that can be used individually or combined together to create infinite variations of sonic moods.

    The core concept of OPIUM is to create a collection of narrowband textures that sit between the 2nd and the 3rd octave, not completely filling the audio spectrum and leaving plenty of room for bass, melodic parts and other sound design elements.

    OPIUM has been produced with no synthesis at all, instead, all sounds have been processed from field recording and raw audio pieces, to present you an exclusive sound set.

    Each sound works perfectly as an immediate mood setter to create tense and uneasy dramatic pieces, dark and menacing sonic background. Furthermore, by laying together you can quickly create absolutely huge audio moments.

    For sound designers, composer and audio creatives at any level.

     

    19 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597874399
  • Household Gardening Play Track 57 sounds included, 62 mins total $40 $20

    A collection of gardening related sounds. Most of the sounds, such as digging soil, pruning roses, raking leaves, mowing grass and leaf blowing are recorded in a domestic garden. There are also some larger scale public garden sounds such as wood chipping, a sprinkler and chainsaws and there are also some ambiences of a garden centre store.
    All recorded in England.

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1600380000
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER:
 
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
 
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.