Dale Smith studied Sound Production at the Ayr Campus and is now in his dream job as an audio designer in the gaming industry.
Here he talks about what inspired him to leave behind a full-time but – for him – an unfulfilling job, and start a college course that has propelled him into his perfect position.
Games and audio has always had a huge influence in my life. My brother and I would always play games and make films on basic PC programs back in the day.
We’ve always shared a passion in this but I never fully realised I could work in this industry. That was until my brother started going to Ayrshire College, where he studied Sound Production.
I was really impressed that he took the courage to go do what he loves and get a job in it. I had taken a safer route at the time, becoming a joiner.
When he started college, he would always come home and show me what he had learned about sound production and music. He saw that I was really interested and encouraged me to apply. At the time I really wanted to but felt the fear of failing. He made me drive to college one day directly after work to meet some of his lecturers. Without him I don’t think I would be working in my dream job today.
I’m an Audio Designer for Ruffian Games, based in Dundee. My job consists of visual programming for audio implementation, sound asset creation mixing and mastering using either in engine (Unreal Engine 4) or middleware (Wwise or FMOD).
I love it! Every day I learn something new and improve my skills.
When I started with Ruffian Games I had some audio work for their game Fragmental (which is now available for purchase on Steam), which I found very exciting. Right now I’m juggling two projects: Crackdown 3 and RAD TV. They’re quite different as Crackdown 3 is a huge scale project with loads of people, and my tasks are much more defined. With RAD TV I’m basically working on all of the audio related tasks for the project – from sound design and implementation to mixing and mastering.
Throughout my entire education I was always working towards getting a game audio job. I studied at college and university as normal but in my spare time I’d take what I had learned and practice and learn new techniques.
While learning this I’d always work on projects at home, be it sound for games, animation for fellow students or working on my own music/plugin projects. I always had my eyes and ears peeled looking for a job.
I was building up a pretty good portfolio and reputation and when I discovered a company called Reagant Games were looking for quality assurance (QA) testers, I knew it was a way to get my foot in the door.
I was offered an interview so quickly began researching exactly what a QA tester was. I realised that, being a gamer my whole life, I would find the job somewhat natural, but also, I felt other people going for the interview probably would too. As I wanted to eventually get a job doing audio with this company I decided to express how I could have a unique advantage over other testers as I had been studying game audio – allowing me to quickly pick up on audio related bugs and potentially provide solutions.
This seemed to really impress the interviewer and I ultimately landed the job as QA tester.
When this was all happening, I was still looking out for opportunities to increase my portfolio and hone my skills. I discovered that a team from the university I went to had successfully gained entry to a competition known as Dare to be Digital.
I knew this would be a tremendous opportunity as:
- There was a chance to win this competition and receive a BAFTA award.
- I could include on my CV that I was working on a project for Dare to be Digital.
I decided to apply for the role of sound designer for the team (known as Ludico). To better my chances of getting the position I decided to get creative with my application. I took a pre-existing video of the team’s game and re-did every sound effect and piece of music by myself. I felt that this would show my enthusiasm for the role plus show the team what I was capable of.
This method seemed to work as they hired me for the role. As the weeks passed by I juggled between working as a QA tester for Reagent Games and a sound designer for Ludico.
We earned two awards for our games! The People’s Choice Award and a BAFTA ‘Ones to Watch’ nomination.
The course at Ayrshire College was very helpful in preparing me for university. I found the lecturers very helpful, they really went the extra mile to provide more information on subjects which they knew you were interested in – which for me was obviously game audio.
It’s very exciting to be in the industry as it’s always been a dream for me.