SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3H620663
Module Leader Don Knox
School School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment
Subject Audio Engineering
  • A (September start)
  • B (January start)

Summary of Content

This module is designed to introduce students to the theory and practices of sound design applied in the context of computer games. Students will study the theory of sound design - including aspects affecting the use of sound in interactive media contexts, and the function of narrative and contextual sound effects and music. Practical activity is gained in the context of a working game engine and audio middleware. This includes sourcing, recording, synthesising and manipulating sound, with consideration of the salient technical constraints which apply in the games sound context, and development of sophisticated game sound interaction via appropriate game sound development tools.


The past, present and future of game sound. Situating the needs and requirements of the game industry in past and present constraints, and identifying emerging goals. Sound design. Key theoretical issues surrounding the function of music and sound effects for establishing context and setting narrative. Specific issues affecting sound design for games, the non-linear narrative, response to user actions. Creating sound effects and music corpora. Music and effects libraries, synthesis and generation of sound effects. Technical constraints in sound design for games. Memory and processing limitations and the need to work within these constraints as a sound designer. Emerging technology - procedural and generative sound and music. Practical skills in use of audio engines and middleware; development of game sound interaction engine, sound variation, adaptation and the acoustic ecology. Indicative assessment: VLE-hosted class test, focussing on theoretical aspects of the module syllabus approximately half way through the trimester. 30% Practical assessment of skills and knowledge through design and development of game sound system using professional game engine technology. 70%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:Evaluate and critically analyse underpinning theories of sound design, including factors salient to the function of sound and music in games.Demonstrate a deep understanding of concepts and principles underpinning interactive sound, and display knowledge and practical experience of current and emerging game sound technology.Demonstrate knowledge of the technical constraints which apply to the production of sound effects and music in an interactive media context.Design and develop sophisticated game sound systems through engagement with professional game engine technology.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The University 'Strategy for Learning' documentation has informed the learning and teaching strategy for this module. The module syllabus aims to enhance engaged learning through building on the existing audio skills of the student, and developing and extending these in the context of game sound design. In particular, use is made of current, professional game engine technology as a platform for students to gain practical skills valued by the game sound industry, and to apply their knowledge of key theoretical aspects of game sound design. Divergent thinking is encouraged through a focus on open-ended practical assessment tasks which have scope for development of creative and non-structured solutions. Invited talks from game sound professionals are designed to make students aware of key employability issues, and opportunities for involvement in schemes such as the Scottish Game Jam and Dare to be Digital aim to encourage an entrepreneurial attitude. In order to facilitate flexible learning, all learning materials are made available through the University VLE. In addition, free or inexpensive software tools are specified in order to allow students flexible access to them. Detailed, individual feedback on assessments is provided in timely manner, with focus on constructive guidance on continued development and improvement of the student's understanding of expectations and assessment processes. -22

Indicative Reading

Richard Stevens, Dave Raybould, 2011. The Game Audio Tutorial: A Practical Guide to Sound and Music for Interactive Games. Focal Press. ISBN 978-0240817262. Farnell, A. 2008. Designing Sound: procedural audio for games and film. Applied Scientific Press. ISBN-13: 978-0-9560886-0-4. Marks, A. 2009. The Complete Guide to Game Audio: For Composers, Musicians, Sound Designers, and Game 2nd Edition, Focal Press ISBN: 978-0-240-81074-4 Collins, K. 2008. Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design. MIT press. ISBN: 978-0262033787. Collins, K. 2013. Playing with Sound: A Theory of Interacting with Sound and Music in Video Games. MIT Press. ISBN: 978-0262018678.

Transferrable Skills

Critical analysis of theories, principles and concepts. Computer and software skills. Problem solving. Communication skills. Creativity, innovation and independent thinking.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Tutorials (FT) 12.00
Practicals (FT) 24.00
Lectures (FT) 12.00
Independent Learning (FT) 134.00
Assessment (FT) 18.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 n/a 100.00 40% Practical