Charming, original hand-draw illustrations by Peter Jungers spice up the title.

Sound and music for games is already a growing frontier for professional music careers; mobile, then, triply so. But with the expanded opportunities come unique challenges. Learning about them requires real-world experience, and short of word of mouth, that kind of knowledge is often scarce – even in the Web age.

Composer, sound designer, and audio director Ben Long has put his sonic thumbprints on games and TV networks alike, and has recently turned his attention to sharing some of the industry secrets of the mobile realm, with work in game design textbooks and GDC China. Now, he has a new book entitled “Game Audio 101: Mobile” that assembles all that experience into a single reference. Launched at South by Southwest Interactive, it could prove invaluable to people aspiring in this area.

What’s especially unique about this title is not only its focus, but its insights into real-world case studies – fairly legendary ones, at that. Long gets tips and background on the making of sound for hit titles Angry Birds (iOS, Android), music app Drumkit (iOS), and RPG hit The Harvest (Windows Phone).

Nor is this generalist advice, painted in vague, broad strokes. There are specifics of platforms (not only iOS, but Windows Phone and Android), sound design technique, technical information, and career advice. Covered in the book:

These Angry Birds: we may never learn what made them so angry … or so addictive. At least you can find out what made the sound tick in this blockbuster title. Photo (CC-BY) Johan Larsson.
  • Basics of the mobile market, MIDI and mobile design
  • Anatomy of specific titles and the techniques they used to make effective music and sound direction
  • Particulars of everything from looping to sound cues, coupled with interviews with sound designers
  • Tips on improving sound design, catering to specific platforms, and managing your career and negotiations

I should caution that this is more of a white paper of assembled research and tips than a front-to-back textbook. My one complaint is, therefore, it does feel a bit abridged, under fifty pages. There’s sometimes a copy-and-paste sense to the content, as well, in case you’re expecting something with the level of polish of, say, an O’Reilly e-book. The tips you can glean from it, though, could be worth the price of admission if this is a field about which you’re serious – and a lot more than you’d get out of a similarly-priced workshop or the massive cost of attending conferences. You’ll have to do a little digging – the title really picks up somewhere about halfway through – but you could easily get some nuggets that could transform a career.

To make things easier, we have a CDM-only discount code for readers, bringing the price down 50% off its current sale price to just $19.95. Enter the following code at checkout:

More information:

Ben Long has also written a terrific reference exclusively for CDM, from January – much shorter than the book, but good if you want a taste of his writing:
Creating in 2011: A Composers’ View of Mobile Game Audio, From Trends to Slot Machine Sound Design

Let us know what you think – and definitely if you happen to get a good gig in the industry.

  • Many, many thanks for this. I am just getting serious about building a lightweight sample accurate sequencer for iOS. This is serendipitously timed.

  • Peter, thanks! All criticism is welcomed and I really want to expand this. The trick was keeping it "101" and not getting too terribly technical. The next one will be "901" and there will be no middle ground – which means going right into middleware and possibly audio programming with 'score this game' examples. I just need to see what people want in there.


  • Huhn. I just listened to an interview and read a couple…This was not what i thought it was. I thought it would be a little more technical that it is. I am a little disappointed on that front, but my expectations are intractable and I didn't actually read too much about the book before i bought it.

    Thinking about the effort that must have been put into this (a good amount,) I am glad to have supported this, If only to help 901's release! 

  • Bought it, we're developing a musical game right now so this could not have come at a better time 🙂
    Or it could have come at just about any time, I would probably have bought it anyway.

    Really looking forward to the 901 Ben, if you need anyone to proof-read it …

  • danny s

    i'm now very anxious to see the 901 book!  think this'll be available before ios5?  i'm with griotspeak — i also would like to work on a tight ios audio app, but i'm quite green with audio programming.  i would really benefit from some nitty-gritty hand-holding on things like timing accuracy and maximizing efficiency/memory, wireless communication for midi/osc, as well as insights on dealing with the limitations of the device hardware.
    while the doubly-discounted price on 101 makes it quite reasonable, the $77 original price for an e-book (and what sounds like an overview on business practices at that) seems a bit… steep.  perhaps i am not grasping the amount of content, or the effort of compiling it into a pdf, but dang!  is it really good enough to warrant that price (perhaps a moot point, as with the cdm code its only 20 bucks)?  can any other purchasers supply more insight on the value here?  after ben's fascinating insight into casino auditory conspiracy, i have no doubt that there will be some excellent knowledge in the 101 book, but i may wait for the next to be released, perhaps there will be a bundle deal on both?  a more technical book that i'd be returning to again and again as a reference/cookbook seems easily worth AT LEAST $77.

  • Jayson Goldman

    Wow, this is exactly what I need – perfect timing!