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Post feature RSS Sound and Character

Read on to discover how both world and character were created using sound.

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‘the ‘reader’ or spectator is required to form interpretations to make meaning’ – McGonigle, F. (2013)

From the ragged and worn alcoholic detective to the lab coat wearing evil scientist, audible tropes are necessary in order for the audience to identify and interpret characters. Visual cues and costume design generally act as the first impression an audience get when watching any given visual piece. But what happens when those visual aids are stripped for the user, leaving audio signifiers and dialogue as the only ways to denote character and personality?

Creating distinct characters with unique traits and recognisable qualities can be challenging in the face of an audio only art form. Personalities must be intricately crafted with close attention to the tone and character of someone’s voice. Does a character possess a strong and looming tone, if so, are they most likely an evil character? Or does a character speak with a more educated tone? If so is that character the most intelligent force within the game? While connotations of tone and word choice help pave audiences’ perceptions, these are generally reinforced by the way a character looks, moves and dresses. So, with no costume or body language aid, let’s take a look at some ways to reinforce character traits in the game.
A lot can be said by the way a character moves or the sound their clothes make; tiny footsteps, pitter pattering or heavy-duty footsteps, thudding on the floor. In this sense, constructing interesting, audibly revealing items that relate to a character’s dress and movement certainly help denote a character’s personality more than one might think. The light footsteps of The Director, for example, tell the audience that he is a small character, but.. combined with the tone of his dialogue denote that he is smart and witty, a common trope for stereotypical villains. To contrast, the audience can tell that Finn is a combat hardened veteran by his heavy-duty boots and the frequent sharpening of knives. These seemingly small details can display a great deal in the way a character behaves, what that character could look like and what that character’s potential background is.

Thematic music can help denote personality and mood of any given character also. By connecting a certain tone or mood through using thematic scores helps the audience understand what that character is feeling or what that character’s objectives are. For example, a well spoken and sophisticated villain can be reflected using classical music, due to the connotations of that theme conforming to the construction of the character. A battle-hardened rebel leader, however, can be best reflected using action scores with distorted, hard hitting instruments. These audio aids help denote character, and with the lack of visuals, make up for a lack of common visual cues. Giving the audience this direction is essential in making unique and distinct characters, especially in relation to our game.

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