Audio analysis in existing video games


Halo 3 (2007)

Marty O’Donnell composed the original audio for the game. Halo 3 is a first-person shooter that takes place in the year 2255, centered around the war between the humans and an alien race known as the Convenant. In previous games the sound used for Halo and Halo 2 used synthesized computer-generated sounds, however this game used a real 63-piece orchestra and a 24-piece choir. However environmental sounds such as gun-shots that are heard frequently in the game were created using synthesized sounds,

The audio in this level creates a tense atmosphere as the sound loop uses a choir to let the player know that danger is around the corner, as there is a shift in the tempo of the music and also gives an eerie atmospherhalo1e that this planet is not safe. There are subtle metallic beats playing alongside the choir, to let the player know that they should run and hide away from the impending doom of the enemy. The audio incalzandos ( increases in rhythm) which corresponds to what is happening on the screen. The tempo shift is a way of causing the player to move on to the next level and progressing rather than just the same loop that doesn’t change throughout the game, as the player would not proceed to the next level.


Once the player is out of danger, the tempo reverts back to normal, and the environmental sounds resumes, which gives a sense of solitude as the moving water of the sea and tree rustling.This gives the player a sense of what is going on around them.  Because the player is outside, the sounds are specific to that setting of the outside environment and therefore nature. The sounds of the covenant monsters cease, as the player has defeated them but this is only temporary as this only happens for a shot period of time. The end of this short period of solitude for the player is cut short as the radio that connects the player to their team begins to cut out. This creates a tense atmosphere and a juxtaposition to the tranquility of the sounds of nature that can be heard seconds before the radio interference. This is a signal that there will be threats again.


In another level, which takes place inside uses different ambient music. There is a rhythmic marching drumbeat signifying danger, at a very quick tempo that quickens the moment you get nearer to where the fight is taking place. Alongside these sounds is gunfire to add realism to the game; as are the otherworldly quick blast sounds of enemy gunfire, to make the player feel as if they are on that planet fighting aliens.  There is the alert that the players energy shield is running out of energy fast, which gives a sense of urgency that the player needs to find cover fast. The main player feedback sounds can be heard above all of the ambient and surrounding noise such as the gunshots coming from the player’s weapon, this helps the player interact with the virtual world.


Skyrim Elder Scrolls V(2011)

Skyrim is an adventure-action role-playing that takes in the mythical land known as Skyrim. The game takes place around the player character that is to ultimately kill a dragon that is prophesied to destroy the land. The original music used on Skyrim was composed and produced by Jeremy Soule. The setting of the game is loosely based on the Nordic time period, which correlates to some of the instruments used in the game;such as the flute,accordion and harmonica to give the sense of a different time but along with the choir it gives a sense of a mythical land.


The music in this level uses a chanting melodic choir to amplify the danger and tenseness of the mission of destroying the dragon. Skyrim is essentially a button-pressing game, but with a battle chant playing, it makes the player feel that the fate of the world rests on their mission. The vocal chants crescendo (gradually get louder) and thus creates a rushed atmosphere that the player is running out of time. There are the environmental sounds such as the dragons roar and the screaming of the players comrades. This increases the imminent horror of what may happen if the player does not defeat the dragon. Thus creating a sense of urgency and the impression that time is running out; the tempo accelerandos (gradually gets quicker) which also mimics the users beats per minute.

The composer that created the audio used in Skyrim, used a male choir of 30 people to chant his fictional dragon language. He then doubled the audio of this chant to give the illusion that there is a 90 piece choir chanting at the same point in time. This technique is very useful because it saves the company time and money but also gives the  quality that would be heard in a 90 piece choir. When this soundtrack is played, the tempo at which the repeating chants mimics the users elevated heart rate. The average beats per minute is 60-100 of the average person; even when the instrumental music stops playing the choir chant can still be heard in the background. Featuring in  most video games, including Halo and Skyrim, the music loop is always on a repeating pattern and there is rarely a point when the music stops during gameplay. This technique is used to create atmosphere and to help fully immerse the player in the game.


During the time when the player is not fighting dragons, they are able to explore the mythical landscape in the game. At times like these the audio track turns light and melodic. The rhythmic chants disappear invoking a calm atmosphere, implying there is no imminent danger.  Flutes and strings resume playing softly, the orchestral music creates an angelic tone and the environmental sounds of the tree-rustling and the horse’s hooves create an ambiance that is euphonious to the player. The music here when there is a gentle flute playing in the background makes the atmosphere allegrezza (cheerfull and joyfull). This is also reflected in the environment, as the player is surrounded by nature and a peaceful landscape. The juxtaposition of the audio that is featured in the action scenes as to the audio featured in the time that passes in-between missions is very clear. The audio featured in the action scenes uses harsh melodic choir chants, an accelerated tempo and environmental sounds such as fire burning, shouts/cries from fellow warrior and dragon roars is contrasted to flutes, melodic guitars and the environmental sounds of running water and the tranquil sounds of birds.

Racing Car Video Game Audio Analysis

Split Second


In this scene the music starts to increase in tempo as the player has risen to third place. The instruments that are heard are drum beats  which are played continuously in a repeating 4- beat pattern alongside snares too. This creates a determined atmosphere and creates tension as the music is gathering pace. A short 2-beat melody of a violin playing with the beats  can be heard as well which sets the user on edge as violins are used heavily in horror films so therefore there are some horror-movie element connotation to having violins playing in video games which also signify to the user that an event is going to happen, which also creates anticipation from the player.

Capture.PNGIn this scene the music is of an techno genre. There is a repeating loop of a hi-hat and bass drum alongside a few synthesized piano high notes. This is played quietly in the background, as there are other environmental noises that are over – layed onto the audio loop; such as car revs, beeping to signify that the player has progressed to the next level.





Word Count: 1291


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