Why Audio is as Important as Gameplay in Video Games

If you ask a gamer why they love their favorite video game or franchise, they will likely tell you about the graphics, the gameplay, and even the soundtrack. Some of the most iconic game soundtracks include the soundtracks of the Secret of Mana, Stardew Valley, God of War, Streets of Rage 2, and Halo 3. These games have received industry awards and high praise for the audio, but why do they matter?

Audio, despite not being a back of the box feature, is often one of the most highly praised aspects of leading game franchises. Here, we will give you a quick overview of why audio is as important as gameplay in games.

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Soundtracks Make Characters More Dynamic

In movies, characters have their own theme music – and it’s no different in video games. The music that accompanies a character’s scenes very often teaches you something about the character themselves. A character that has an eclectic, wacky and outlandish personality may be accompanied by jazz music or thumping drum and bass tracks wherever they go. In a similar manner, the more experienced a character becomes, the more complex their soundtrack – we’ve seen this in iconic games such as those in the Legend of Zelda franchise.

Likewise, a calm and sombre game with a soft harmonic soundtrack may suddenly change its audio when a boss battle is about to begin. It may switch out twinkling piano notes for drum beats and heavy guitar chords to let you know that this enemy really isn’t playing around. You may not even be conscious of these audio changes in the moment, but they still greatly impact your gaming experience.

Audio is Used to Set the Atmosphere

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In all kinds of games, the atmosphere that you get while you play is one of the most important aspects. Arcade games will use in-your-face colors and themes to really ramp up the fun and entertainment factor, for example. It’s even a factor in online casino games, though you may not expect it. Games like baccarat online improve the atmosphere by offering live dealers, who are real people who deal the cards in front of you. This interaction with the baccarat card dealer allows online casinos to make you feel like you actually are playing in a land-based casino. It’s also why horror games will try to scare you with shadows and dark corners as well (speaking of spine-tingling sounds, you might want to check out our recent Sampletraxx Custom Tools review).

Also important to this atmosphere-building is audio. If a game wants you to know that a scene is thoughtful, then it may suddenly become quiet. In a horror game, it may use sudden strikes of a violin’s strings to make you feel uneasy. Or, music may change as you draw closer to an objective. The beat of a song may become faster, for example, or your character may give you audible clues such as “we must be getting close to the treasure now.” These all inform the atmosphere of a game without you even realizing it.

Audio does tend to be an overlooked feature in video games, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter. Audio, including voice lines and soundtracks, are still very important and will remain that way.