The end is in sight. You’re finishing your final year studying game audio. What’s next? A career as an audio programmer, sound designer, or audio artist at a game studio.

That’s the dream, anyway. But how exactly can you climb the ladder from sound assistant to senior sound designer? What’s the best way to begin a career in game audio?

The truth is that entering industry is a bit opaque. While studios do list what’s needed to applying for positions, the reality is that landing a job is more difficult than simply checking off a list of requirements. Of course, that’s true with every job. However, it’s not easy to know how to prepare for a career in game audio. How should you present yourself? What are some ‘do’s’ and ‘dont’s’ when starting out in game audio?

Today’s post is here to help.


How to Break Into Game Audio

Positions in game audio are precious. They’re coveted by video game fans. With thousands of applicants applying worldwide, you’ll need to make yourself appealing to studios, highlight your strengths, and avoid the pitfalls others make.

Here’s how.


1. Get Experience

You’ve heard it before: to get a job, you need experience. However, to get experience, you need a job!

Of course, if you’re fresh out of college, you won’t have much professional experience. How can you get around this?

The best way is to get a temporary internship with a studio. Of course, internships won’t have the glory of designing signature sounds. Expect to be assigned tasks that help the rest of the team succeed. Learning these tasks may seem mundane, however they build a strong foundation for the rest of your career. They also show the team that you’re dedicated, are a team player and are willing to learn the ropes before being assigned creative tasks. This will provide the direct experience you need, and, if you’re lucky, you may be adopted directly onto the team.

Now, internships themselves are rare. You can expect to compete with many other eager applicants. Depending on the studio and what local laws allow, you may find it worth your while to offer your time free of charge. It may be just enough to get your foot in the door.


2. Learn the Tools

If you can’t find work elsewhere, it’s important to get experience by teaching yourself. How?


fmod interface


Get started by buying and trying new gear. Begin with free editing software, headphones, and a portable audio recorder. Experiment, learn the nature of recording, editing, and designing sound. Don’t overspend, either. It’s easy to go thousands of dollars into debt buying audio equipment. Instead, buy only when you need it. Consider renting. Upgrade when your skills have outgrown your gear.

Download and try industry software: Wwise, FMOD, Unreal Engine, and Unity. Learn Pro Tools and Reaper. Dig into BaseHead and Soundminer. Try free demos. Experiment until you’re bewildered, then search Google and watch YouTube videos for answers. Keep pushing your limits.

More, diverse knowledge will grant you experience with the tools sound pros use on the job every day. No studio wants to teach the crew they hire. Know the software before you apply.


3. Present Yourself 

Craft a bulletproof resume. It’s true you won’t have a long list of credits fresh out of college. Instead, fill up your CV with tasks you’ve accomplished that are related to audio. Courses, workshops, music production, and so on are all good to add when you’re lacking direct experience. Just the same, remember to omit anything superfluous. Leave out the retail or food service job. That creates clutter.

Pay attention to detail and format your resume properly. Scour it for mistakes or improper layout. That leaves a poor impression. A good resume should show what you’ve accomplished, the problems you’ve solved, and look clean and lean.

Design a demo reel with re-created scenes that showcase your skills as an editor and sound designer. Find a movie clip, strip the sound, and recreate the soundtrack. Bonus points if you create professional-sounding clips from scratch (either by field recording or with designed sound), instead of using stock libraries. Aim for three solid demo reels of about 30 seconds each.

Another impressive way to showcase your skills is to create a mod. Popular options are to add new sounds to Half Life or Call of Duty. Research how to access each game’s audio assets, create and add new clips, and test in-game. This is a good way to showcase your design skills in an interactive platform.

Lastly, make sure each of these are easy to find and access. Create a professional-looking website that shares your demo reels and resume there.


4. Learn the Trade

You’ve learned a lot in college. Your education doesn’t end there, of course. There are dozens of websites and podcasts created by audio pros that have direct experience in the field. Check out sound design books, too. Lurk in Facebook groups and on Reddit. Browse tutorials and guides online.

Some places to get started:

There are many, many more. Most are free. Browse them to keep up on industry trends.


5. Connect With Others

Another saying you’ve probably heard: “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Colleagues help exchange new ideas, make recommendations, and share new jobs. How can you build a group of colleagues before you begin working?

Do this by networking. Get out there and meet people in the industry. Go to the Game Developers Conference. Meet like-minded pros. Chat with them about what they do. Share what you’ve done and what you’d like to accomplish. Let them see your passion for game audio. Give them your resume and DVD demo reel. Save their contact info to your master network contact list. Follow up and begin building relationships.

Don’t be overbearing, of course. Persistence is important, yes, but you don’t want to be remembered as being annoying.

Instead, you want to radiate the proper attitude. Share with them that you are willing to learn, that you’re positive, and that you can get the job done. Be professional. Your confidence and demeanour will stick in their minds, and move you to the top of their list when they’re ready to hire.