Audio Programmer

What do Audio Programmers do?

Audio Programmers work in the digital games industry. They are responsible for the processing, storage and playback of sound effects and music in the game. They write the software tools and utilities to support the sound and music. It is a highly skilled job and Audio Programmers need a high level of technical knowledge and understanding of a wide range of computer programmes as well as a passion for the games. They will often work both for the game team directly and the software department. The Audio Programmer is responsible for ensuring the game sounds as good as it looks and plays. Their work will be essential to the atmosphere of the game and in making sure that sound and music are properly integrated and enhance the experience for players. The Audio Programmer will work closely with the audio production department, and they may be responsible for development of the audio component of the company’s software as well as the playback and mixing routines in the game itself.

The specific role and the skills required to fill it will vary according to the particular game. An Audio Programmer may need an understanding of the MIDI standard of audio production and of mixing and recording processes, real time sound synthesis, audio compression standards and signal processing, and interactive music APIs.

It is a fast and constantly changing field of work, and an Audio Programmer will need to keep up to date with any developments in hardware and software. The advent of more powerful game hardware has opened up many new avenues for audio programming, with surround sound and physically modelled audio joining the established requirement for software DSP algorithms.

As well as excellent knowledge of specific software packages an Audio Programmer will need an understanding of underlying principles, which means a good grounding in physics and maths. For example they will need an understanding of music and wave theory, Fourier transform theory and practice, frequency analysis and the physics of audio transmission. They will also need and be able to work with a range of software programming and packages, including Windows programming, Max/MSP, Java, or C/C++, 3D environmental audio packages and audio API.

Quality Audio Programmers are much sought after in the games industry, so there is a good chance of securing work for those with the right skills and qualifications. A computer science related university degree is often required as well as an understanding of audio production. Someone interested in becoming an Audio Programmer will also often be expected to demonstrate an element of prior experience in this area and have an enthusiasm for games.

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