How to become a game sound designer

Well I can’t tell you how to get that job, technically, I am not THAT advanced at sound design. But I can tell you the basics of what you’ll need to know to do basic run of the mill sound design as a periphery to your other work.

When you’re in professional or semi professional game design/programming, especially if you’re in Self Employment, for instance, on Upwork.

Usually your task will be something like….. hey I have this sound here, it needs some changes. For instance, maybe it needs to be cut into individual pieces for use in multiple SFX. Maybe it needs to be made louder, or quieter, or balanced or neutralized. Maybe you need to wrap one sound into another. Or most likely, and most usually, you just need to take an existing sound, and change the format. For instance, maybe to or from MP3 and to/from something else like WAV, WMA, M4A, AAC.

Something like that.

It’s a non trivially important skill to learn over the course of your game design career. You will have to do this at some point in your career. So you may as well learn the basics now.

Oh, hey if you want to check out my article on how to design storytelling games, <—– check it out here! It’s a Baskin exclusive, and it’s good for you, like Guinness was once thought to be.

How do you become a sound designer?

You can become a game sound designer without too much work, if you’re really good at your job you’ll eventually be able to make any sound your boss could possibly require.

How much money does a sound designer make?

A sound designer can make around $40,800 a year. With the lower range at $25,000 and the upper ceiling at about $68,000. Generally speaking you will need to find your own work and clients, even at a big company.

Is Sound Design hard?

Just a warning, sound design outright is a hard job, and not to be taken lightly. You have to study for years and practice endlessly every day to get to a point where you can make any sound and also be innovative. It’s hard, but not impossible. So don’t be dissuaded.

Here’s a reddit thread about this topic, form your own thoughts on the matter.

What about as a game designer?

But this is for professionals, who studied to get into that field, because they really like it, what we’re talking about today is something a bit more basic, just simple techniques that a game designer will be expected to know if he or she finds work at a small company. Big companies will probably have someone handling your sound files for you.


Here, we have the Durandal Theme.

Audacity seems very picky about being noticed by my OS. I right click a sound, try open with, it’s not available. I go ‘choose another app’, it’s not in the list.

I seem to have to open up Audacity proper, all on my own, and then navigate to the file I’m looking for. Very frustrating, an odd behavior for any program of this nature. I am not certain of the meaning. It could mean anything…. no…. what? ‘It could mean anything’ ? This is a man who is not writing honestly and straightforwardly, about the topic on hand.

Ok, so let’s reformat…. hrpmh…. Let’s reformat the Durandal Theme. Choose File -> Export -> And this is what you see:

Convert the file to the required file type

So we can convert this file to a variety of different file types. MP3, WAV, and OGG, this will cover the breadth of the file types you will be encountering in your journeys, son.

Not to exclude any girl programmers out there, it’s just an expression. Anyway, back to business. MP3 is your most common file type for sounds, but in game design, I ran into it less and less often. WAV is used a lot, but again, less often is what I found, but maybe that’s just my anecdotal experience. OGG is a commonly occurring file type. At least in Unity, OGG is a good type for your sounds. I think I was using mostly a combination of WAV and OGG, probably converting most of the time from MP3, which I couldn’t use much. But if I’m not mistaken, in Unreal Development, MP3 is a usable file type. Just import and utilize.

So here’s the Ogg file being saved to my D Drive.

Save the file

As you can see, just a standard save file screen. Nothing special, you can switch to a different file type if you picked the wrong one.

Moving onto the next screen:

Here we have the metadata tags, this is really important, if you want to make an MP3, to listen to on your phone with your Music Player App, you can do this directly to the mp3 by right clicking on the file, but you can fill them in here just as easily. Simple enough, artist name, track title, album name, track number, year, genre, i don’t see it here but there’s also contributing artists.

If you’re making music, mp3’s for playback on your phone, always fill this stuff out, it really helps sort and organize things if you do that, and it just looks nicer and more professional.

Another thing you will be asked to do is to edit your clips, this is really quite easy, let me show you.

Let’s say I wanted to cut this clip into the short segment at the end. The higher the position of the sound in the timeline, the louder the segment is, so you can kind of shoot by eye and see where the quieter parts are visually.

So just mousedown over the clip, edit “cut”, then select all, delete, and paste. And you have the following:

By the way, following the previous example of exporting, there’s one thing that really important for you to remember when you’re designing sounds in Audacity, and that is the following, make sure to export your sounds. That sounds simple, but you can very easily mistakenly choose “save” from the menu, and save your project, thinking it is an mp3. This is a genuinely annoying time sink, to please try to remember to export your files. I beg of you.

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While we’re moving to the next topic, make sure to check out our subscription service, it’s a really fine service and you can learn everything you need to know to make your first game. Whether you’re a beginner, or a seasoned grizzled pro, we can teach you about Unreal Engine 5 and Unity, if you’re into 3D modelling we have courses on Maya and Blender or 3DS Max. Same goes here, we can teach you advanced techniques, or if you want to learn 3D modelling and you’re just starting out, we have beginner tutorials too.

Game dev is a great way to get out of a bad situation, are you employed in security, food service, retail, sales, or some other dead end job? Would you like to make money developing games instead? You can do it, all you need is a little bit of practice and learning, a few months of study to get your head around it, maybe a really nice portfolio piece, and yeah, you can start finding work on self employment sites like Upwork, where you will never stop getting job offers, and once you’ve established a nice portfolio of work, you have a good resume with lots of experience, switch over to indeed and try to find work at a decent company. You can make money, the same money you made in your old job, doing something you love.

Don’t waste your life in bad jobs, with no upward mobility. Work from home, as a game developer, set your own hours, do something fun for your job. Pretty soon you can displace and replace your old 9-5 with self employment, and down the road, when your resume is good enough, with a few years experience under your belt, employment in a real company, and a respectable career. We can help you take the first step, so check out our subscription service, we can back you up.

Anyway, back to business.


Ok, let’s overlay that clip we just captured over the original sound track. Select all, copy, cmd z, cmd z, cmd z. and we have our track back in full. So, go to Tracks -> Add New -> Stereo Track.

Alright, with that done, here’s what the new sound file looks like:

So the next thing we need to do, is paste in the audio track. Select the part of the sound you want to paste it into, and press ctrl v. That will paste the sound effect into the new track.

And when all is said and done, the dust has settled, and the soldiers are going home to their wives, this is what you see:

Then you can just export the sound. And you’ve got some mixing sorted out. Actually you can do stuff like this with many programs, like Sony Vegas Pro 14. But this is one of the standards for audio editing so we’ll stick with audacity for now….

Although come to think about it, if I want to do serious sound editing, like for music, or a song, a complex one, I never use Audacity, Sony Vegas Pro 14 is better suited to complex sound creation and music production.

Audacity is primarily for cutting clips, some surface mixing, and primarily for file conversion, but again you can do that with Sony Vegas Pro 14.

Final Thoughts

So, wasn’t that easy? There is your primer on sound editing for game design. If you’ve followed along you now know how to reformat your sounds, you have learned how to edit sounds and mix them, you have learned how to overlay one sound over another, and with that, you have everything you need to know for sound design in game engines. You don’t have to be the master of sound. You don’t need to be able to produce these sounds from scratch with your advanced knowledge or anything silly like that. You will just be making small edits, reformatting tasks, some overlaying and mixing, stuff like that, 95% of the time in game design. You probably won’t be making sounds from scratch that aren’t dialogue. Sound design in making games is easy, just acquire your sfx from the store, or humble bundle, and you’ll be sitting pretty. No harm no foul. Easy peasy. You already know how to do it.

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