Our last career profile, rounding off our Jobs In Games special, in association with OPM, looks at the world of video game development.
Specifically, we look at working with sound as we talk to audio director Mathias Grunwaldt, Audio Director at Swedish studio EA Gothenburg.
How would you summarise your role?
My role is to make sure that the experience of playing the game is effectively supported and contextualised with audio. By this I mean that every gameplay event in the game is "marked" with appropriate audio cues – using sound effects, music, and VO.
To do this it is vital to agree on a framework, or concept, which contains ideas that guide us in the decision of what the appropriate sound for an event is. There are many ways that a visual sequence can be made to come to life sonically, so the Audio Director needs to provide direction to content creators, and ensure that all is on track and working towards the intended game experience.
What are your main reponsibilities?
My main responsibility as an Audio Director is to ensure that all content creators are working towards a shared goal. This will be a constantly moving target, so it is important to communicate effectively, regularly, and always keep the interests of the game in focus.
Other responsibilities are to plan for production, stay on top of sourcing highest quality content, and keeping audio developments moving towards highest quality goals.
How did you get your job?
I got my job through a regular job application online – thankfully my profile was a good fit for the project. I then went through multiple interview stages until I had an offer.
What special skills or qualifications did you need?
Primarily I had relevant experience from working on similar games, working in similar environments. I think in sound it helps if you have a specialist area, so you can communicate your strengths. A lot of sound designers are versatile, and that is of course very beneficial, but in the flurry of a recruitment phase, with many applicants going after few jobs, it helps if there is something about you that makes you stand out.
Describe your average day. What do you do?
Generally there are too many things to do, so within ten minutes of sitting down I make bulletpoints about everything I need to achieve during the day, this helps me focus on the most important tasks. The rest of the day is spent listening, reviewing work, making sound effects, implementing sounds, thinking about new strategies to solve production or technical problems. I spend a lot of time running around the place talking to everybody.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of the job is when any particular feature sounds great, and the plan has worked. It is always a massive boost when something has come together successfully which makes the game fun to play.
What is the worst part?
Not having a lot of time left to play other games.
What tips would you give to anyone applying for a similar position?
Generate some ideas ahead of the interview. Don't just talk about things you have done – talk more about what you want to do next, what excites you about the future. Try as much as possible to find out in advance what is being worked on, so you can prepare relevant ideas, and ask good questions.
What are your long-term career plans?
At the moment I just want to create fantastic sounding games, and keep making them.