At the head of any video game audio team (or certainly any working on AAA-level projects) is an audio director: an experienced senior audio engineer who lays out audio design guidelines, sets project goals and deadlines for each member of the team, and manages the workflow throughout the project cycle.
This is a leadership position for a communicative, deadline-oriented, and creative problem-solver.
Creating a video game is an immense act of collaboration, requiring professionals from entirely different and potentially distant departments to work on the same schedule and create designs that are aesthetically complementary. For example, an animator who is developing a fluid jump animation for a AAA game might never speak to the sound designer who's designing the corresponding jump sound effect—and yet, their work has to progress at the same rate and reflect the same design principles. This would be all but impossible without audio directors, whose job it is to convey the game's design aesthetic—as outlined by the core creative team—in technically precise terms to the audio team and ensure that all audio assets are ready when required.
In addition to their vital project management duties, audio directors may also schedule and lead recording sessions, edit dialogue, correspond with and assist the game's composer, cooperate with audio implementers, balance the audio budget, or get their hands dirty designing sounds. The audio director is likely also involved in hiring any new team members and voice acting talent, resolving interpersonal problems among the team, and assessing employee performance.
Audio Director at a Glance
This is a senior position in the audio team and requires a minimum of five years working in video game audio. Audio directors typically start out as sound designers and may be generalists or specialized in an area such as dialogue, music, or effects. After some time on the team, senior designers may be chosen to lead small audio projects and eventually be promoted to audio director. An ideal candidate for this position has experience with many aspects of game development, including at the very least audio development, sound design, implementation, and basic game design.
The Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.) presents many opportunities for networking within the audio section of the video game industry. Attending general video game industry conferences such as the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) or the Game Developers Conference (GDC) can also prove valuable for networking.
- Sound design
- Electronic production
- Audio engineering
- Audio implementation (typically C or C++)
- Video game design
- Personnel management
This is a leadership position for a communicative and deadline-oriented problem-solver. The audio director sets the pace for the rest of the team and has to have a great sense of time and resource management, as well as be calm and hardworking under pressure. No resting on laurels—this is a great job for someone who can keep many different balls in the air and never stops looking for ways to improve workflow.
This is typically a full-time position with a salary and benefits. As with most video game industry roles, production cycles are extremely influential on work hours and environment. At the very start of a project, the job might resemble a typical office nine-to-five; in deadline crunch-time, however, the audio director might work nine–12 hours per day, through weekends, and from home.