A sound designer is responsible for writing the music that is part of playing a computer or video game. They also create all the sound effects that form part of the experience.
The goal of adding sound to a computer or video game is to make it more real. Adding elements like the sound of running footsteps, a car door slamming or metal swords clanking on each other serves to draw the player into the virtual environment the game designers had in mind when they developed the concept.
The music that accompanies a video game must be a good fit for the overall theme of the game. Part of the sound designer’s job is to listen to the game designer’s overall concept and interpret it in the form of instrumental sounds. He or she may decide to conduct research to find out what music of a particular era sounded like so that what is included with the computer or video game is a good "fit." In the case of a mythical world where the characters are interacting with each other, the sound designer may have some more leeway in writing a musical score, but his or her composition must still reflect the overall vision for the project.
Unlike a movie score where musicians play the music while the film plays in the background, the sound designer doesn’t have the game in front of him or her while working. Instead, they work with a keyboard and a computer that can simulate the sounds of various musical instruments.
The sound effects that a sound designer is responsible for creating vary. Depending on the game, they may need to create the sounds of background conversations, explosions or frogs croaking. The sound designer is given a list of sounds that are needed for the game. He or she can either locate them in an existing sound library or they find or create them for the specific video game project.
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Once the sound has been located or produced, the sound designer may choose to enhance it for the game. The pitch can be raised or lowered, if it will enhance the player’s experience. A particular sound can be mixed with another one to create a particular effect.
The sound designer must also consider where the game is going to be played when doing his or her work.
If the game in question is going to be played in an arcade, the sound effects can be simpler, since more complex ones will be drowned out by the noise from other games in that location. A game that will be played at home can have more sophisticated sound effects since the player will not be distracted by other machines close by.
Being a sound designer means having a good knowledge of music composition, as well as computer hardware and software. This is a highly creative career choice that also involves having good communication skills so that the sound designer can function effectively as part of a team.