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How Meaningful Are Sound Effects To You?

Halo 4 releases today, and while it’s being praised for things like the combat, the multiplayer, and the graphics, it is also getting an uncommon amount of praise for its sound effects.

Sound effects don’t usually garner much attention when compared to most other aspects of a video game, but they are incredibly important nonetheless. Sound can go a long way in helping immerse the player in their experience. That’s one reason why I’ve always enjoyed the Battlefield games so much. The echo of gunfire and the kinetic rumble of distant explosions always made me feel like I was really in the thick of battle. 

Sound effects can also be much more than an immersion mechanism. Thinking back on my past gaming experiences, even the simplest sound effects are capable of holding profound sentimental value. Sounds like collecting a coin in Super Mario or the sound Sonic the Hedgehog makes when jumping, trigger a flood of fond memories from my early days of gaming. The power of a single sound effect isn’t just reserved for old games either. I can instantly recognize the sound of the countdown preceding a match in Halo or the relieving quip of a save station being activated in Dead Space. Hearing those sounds makes me think of all the great times I had playing those games, even if the sound bite only lasted for a second or two.

So how important is sound design in a game to you? Are there any individual sound effects from games that you instantly recognize, and do those sounds hold any deeper value for you?

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