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Anonymous Confessions of a Game Sound Designer: Myths And Missed Opportunities In Game Sound

Article by U.C.

In this installment of the series "Anonymous Confessions of a Game Sound Designer", U.C. (pen name) puts forth a call to action to a couple of the biggest game audio organizations around today - the Game Audio Network Guild (GANG) and the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group (IASIG).

"It was clear the first moment I set foot in the game audio industry: There's a riot goin' on! Roll up to any game developer conference and you are immediately faced with a feeling of West Side Story scale rifts - mirroring the Jets and Sharks - in the duality of GANG and the IASIG. Where one is usually found vocally shouting self inflated accomplishments from the mountain top, the other is hopelessly mired in the thankless task of establishing standardization and educational curriculum.

Nobody seems to have noticed that each are working toward the same goal, in the legitimization of game audio. Wouldn't it be great if a superhero team-up could be encouraged so that GANG could lend their megaphone to the publicly challenged IASIG, and the IASIG could lend their considerable spine and technical muscle to the smoke and flash of GANG?

Here's why it will never happen.

Turn back to the clock to the dawn of civilization. OK, now turn it forward a few thousand years to the formative years of game audio, and then zoom in on the burgeoning careers of two elder statesmen and show persons in their own right: the esteemed George Sanger and revered Tommy Tallarico. Each of their reputations and personalities precede any discussion involving them; one a mystic shaman spreading the word of game audio to the people, the other a flashy sales man selling game audio to the masses. Both to be admired for their singular passion and commitment to the community and also both gloriously entrenched in their own mythology.

So here you have these audio gods among men walking the earth and conjuring Guilds, SIG's, and BBQ's in their wake until one day a crack in the fabric of time tears down the walls built around them and exposes a raw flesh that begins to fester like an old wound. Befitting the hyperbole that surrounds each of them, the impetus for such a divergence is shrouded in a veil of speculation and heresy. Like any good enigma, the secret will stay locked within the cipher. Rest assured that it makes the division all the more pronounced once you come face to face with the fact that neither organization will have anything to do with the other.

From where I'm standing it's just about as High School as could be; in a punks vs. preps or greasers vs. straights kind of way. The perception of difference between GANG and IASIG has perpetuated itself into a "with them or against them" mentality that forces you to choose sides or suffer cold shoulders at sessions and in hallways at conferences. Don't even get me started on the equally perplexing Sony vs. Microsoft or Mac vs. PC debate, we all know these are all largely based on personality and affinity for argumentative and pride infused diatribes without concern for reality or the feelings of the participants.

When all of these paradoxes exist across every aspect of social relationships, how can anyone expect reconciliation among these groups? Is there even a perceived value, or feeling of gain involved with the coupling of these organization beyond the ranting of an anonymous scribe? Time will tell whether these wounds will heal along with the growth of game audio into a unified creative force. One that is able to promote itself for the triumphs of their technological accomplishments, not just their ability to bring the noise or organize text on a page."


U.C. is a game industry veteran and sound focused professional. Direct comments can be sent here.

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