Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 January 2004
The ability to create a virtual world in computer code and implement audio that will follow the physical laws of that real world provides enormous flexibility to the composers working in the computer game industry. The multiple layers of sound that are nonlinear, interactive and dynamically mixed and effected in real time, place this media well outside the restrictions of traditional film, television and music and allow for experiences difficult to create in a more traditional real-world setting. The process of designing a broad concept audio environment for a computer game world can become a blueprint for the creation of a surround sound experience that has many similarities to sound installation practice. Creation and implementation of the sound content, the way in which it becomes interactive and the rules that drive the dynamic mixing are the processes by which the artist defines his or her vision of the final sound work. This paper aims to approach the use of a ‘next generation’ game console as a sound installation space, and discusses the ways in which a virtual audio environment created for a computer game is similar to a more traditional installation space. There are very real limitations for the implementation of soundscapes on computer game consoles, but a balance to these limitations is the capabilities of the surround sound hardware, support of powerful 3D audio engines and accessibility to a wide and diversified audience.