There's a common expression amongst among audio professionals that goes: “You know it sounds right when you don't notice it”. More and more this term can be heard from all levels of experience, almost as though it is the golden ticket to creating a compelling sonic experience.
From what I can gather, the term was coined to reference general technical queues. For instance when mixing between onset recordings and post produced ambiances and dialogue. Or choosing specific reverbs to emulate environments with the use of plug-in effects. That said, I agree, it should be unnoticeable and avoid distracting the listener, just like any other department strives. However, as this is used in dev diaries, articles and conference rooms, it's becoming just as mainstream as the expression “Audio is 50% of the experience “, though I do like that one more.
As this expression finds its way across meeting rooms, without proper staff to defend it, a dumbed down sonic experience is the consequence. The more creative audio concepts are pushed aside for more conservative choices.
This now popular expression has audio professionals alike second guessing their work, to the point where experimentation and risks take the backseat to certainty and safe choices. We should strive to take chances and try new approaches creating an immersive and engaging experience that make gamers hear the direction we set out for in our pre-production documents.
The solution is to educate those that refer to this out of context and correct them, let them understand that simple is good, but fresh can be great! For once let's put the reverse cymbal to rest and try something different, something the gamer does not expect.