The journey of a technical sound designer through the videogames industry | Friday Stories Blog
Play a videogame muted for a few minutes: “You think that you make free choices, but a sound designer is telling you: check this thing out, use that weapon." Sound gives the information needed to succeed in a game. It impacts the player experience from the subconscious. That was the crucial role of the Hazelight audio team and his Technical Sound Designer, Joakim Enigk Sjöberg, at It Takes Two.
In his upcoming talk at Friday Stories, Joakim will tell the behind the scenes of Hazelight game It Takes Two. A two years journey full of challenges, such as the split-screen, recording a massive library of organ church sounds and capturing underwater sounds during winter.
In this article, we will get to know more about his journey as a sound professional in the industry.
A gamer kid reaches the dream of making videogames
Many years have passed since Joakim was a kid playing PC games; or since he was a child and became fascinated by the Final Fantasy soundtrack; and since he left behind his teenage dream of becoming a Rockstar to focus on audio production.
Nowadays, Joakim stops at the middle of the street and shuts everyone up to record the sound of a trash can. Like other sound designers, he is guilty of keeping in his phone a vast library of random sounds.
After six years of producing audio experiences, he is the kind of gamer that thinks about the sound’s technical details while he plays.
Knocking on the door of the videogames industry
Joakim started working in the industry for VR and AR studios in 2015. But how did he get in?
After graduating from college, he offered his audio skills to game studios and did networking in events. In 2019, the reward for his networking efforts finally arrived: he received an offer to become a new member of the Hazelight sound team.
How to make audio for videogames? He has learned many of the skills needed on the job. However, Joakim highlighted that now there are more education opportunities, which help more professionals to enter the industry. He has been involved in educating others in interactive sound design.
Joakim's body language reveals that sound design is more than a career: it’s his passion.
Technical sound designer: half design, half engineering
What does a technical sound designer do in the videogames industry? For Joakim, there is no fixed answer.
“Ideally it is 50% creative work as a sound designer (producing audio experiences), and 50% engineering tasks as an audio programmer (developing new tech and maintaining old). The role is a bridge between game engine, design, and programming.”
The daily responsibilities and skill sets of this role depend on the needs of the studio and its audio team. Today, the audio teams are growing, and the audio experience has more importance every day.
In-house audio teams are growing
These days, players demand high-quality audio experiences, so developers have realized the benefits of having in-house sound teams and including them from the beginning, explained Joakim.
“My impression is that more studios are hiring for bigger sound teams now more than ever.”
If the sounds and visuals don't match, players can't identify which one is wrong because games are one integrated experience. Gamers compare audio experiences similar to how they analyze graphics. Now the audio experience is also a priority concern for studios, said the sound designer of Hazelight.
Audio enters the development process from DAY 1
One of the biggest problems for the industry is: when to be concerned about the audio experience? The sound expert answered without a doubt “from day 1.”
Like programmers, designers or artists, the audio team should enter as soon as the first signs of life of a videogame appear. They have to collaborate and align expectations, intentions, and points of view from day 1 to pull in the same direction.
“Audio is not something that you put on a finished game. It carries the weight of emotions, context, expectations, and information, which influence and drive each facet of a videogame.”
There is still time to sign up to Joakim's talk this coming Friday!
The Great Journey and our events are made possible with the support of the European Regional Development Fund, Region Värmland, Karlstad kommun, Karlstad Innovation Park and Embracer Group.