At the head of any audio team working on AAA-level video game projects is an audio director: an experienced senior developer who works with the core creative team to lay out audio design guidelines; sets project goals and assigns 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 AAA video game is an incredible act of collaboration, and requires professionals from entirely different and potentially distant departments to be working on the same schedule and creating designs that are aesthetically complementary. To illustrate this through an example, an animator who is developing a fluid jump animation might never speak to the audio developer who is 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 creative team—to the audio team, and ensure that all new audio assets are ready in time to meet the needs of the other departments.
Along the way, audio directors may schedule and lead recording sessions, meet with the game's principle composer(s), cooperate with audio programmers on the game's audio implementation, balance the audio team budget, or do some amount of design work as a senior audio developer. As the main leadership figure for the team, the audio director could even be involved in hiring 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 of experience working in video game audio. Ideally, audio directors should have experience with as many aspects of video game development as possible, including at the very least audio development, audio implementation, and game design. Depending on the policies of the studio in question, audio directors may be chosen on a project-by-project basis from among the senior audio developers or it may be a permanent position.
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 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) or Game Developers Conference (GDC) can also prove valuable for networking.
- Sound design
- Electronic production
- Audio engineering
- Audio implementation (C or C++)
- Video game design
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 an in-house 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 to twelve hours per day, and likely through weekends.