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Imagine you are playing a video game where the main character must walk through an old, abandoned warehouse. There is silence all around you, except for the warehouse floors that creak with each step the character takes. There is a slight sound of dripping water in the background and the wind whistles and howls through the broken windows.

These sound effects help create a heightened and suspenseful state for you as the player.

All of a sudden, there is a loud bang from upstairs! You may now be startled and frightened (or excited!) as to what is possibly on its way toward you.

Sound effects are a crucial component of video games, adding another layer of engagement for the player and aiming to invoke certain moods within the player depending on the scene.

Sound effects can help convey several points of the game:

  • Provide information to the player about the plot or environment: In our game example, sound effects help the player determine that the environment is abandoned.
  • Provide feedback on the player’s actions: If the goal as you explore the abandoned house is to collect resources along the way, a chime sound effect could play as you pick up items. These sounds provide positive feedback to you as the player to indicate that you have successfully collected the item.
  • Provide emotional effect: As the loud bang occurs, the player is immediately alerted to the possibility that they may not be alone in the house, after all, possibly invoking a frightened or excited response to continue the gameplay.

The following are several types of sound-effect in a game:

  • Narration: This can be dialogues between characters or narrated text to give additional information to the player. For example, you try to open a locked door in the house, and the character states aloud, “It’s locked!”.
  • Ambient sounds: These are sounds within the background noise to help set up the scene, like the howling wind and dripping water heard in the background of our example.
  • Sound effects: These are sounds typically used to capture the player’s attention, such as loud bangs, crashes, or explosions.
  • Foley sound effects: These are sound effects that match actions in the gameplay, like the player bumping into a table and a “thump” sound playing immediately, or the player must break open a window to enter the house, and the sound effect of glass breaking plays after that.

Instructions

Click the cards to listen to sounds associated with the effect types discussed in this exercise.

Move to the next exercise when ready.

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