Audio: The True Hero In All Video Games?

My initial idea was to combine my DIGC310 & DIGC335 Project – I had essentially drawn on the idea of creating a video essay, which highlights games from all eras which use Audio as the main gauge behind the video gamers gameplay. The post below takes you through a combination of both facets that cover DIGC310 & DIGC335 –

“The effect of video, images and all kinds of visual landscapes on our minds, are very vivid, and we commonly highlight the concept that a picture tells 1000 words – Indeed! But, why don’t we add the dimensional layer of Audio, that not only allows you to vividly visualise something with your eyes, but also being effected in an audible way to which heightens our senses, makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, creates tension and abruptly affects our reactions.

Video Games have endured a long journey from its early developments in the 8-bit Era (Third-generation consoles) 1972–1988 where simple, retro, chiptune electronic sounds from consoles such as Famicom/Nintendo (NES), Sega & Atari would be created for popular games like Pong! & Space Invaders in their super early developments with                        “one pulse sounds” and no background sounds. Its not until 1985 with games such as Super Mario Bros. when rhythmic strings of sounds and musical compositions would be created to provide aural clues in relation to the gameplay, where most commonly the music would gradually rise in tempo to induce a reaction in the user that time is essentially running out!

Throughout the 16, 32 & Early 64-bit Eras, musical compositions which were relative to the current setting of the gameplay would be created originally for those video games only. Where electronic music producers would create an album of soundtracks for entire games as they allowed for a larger amount of storage on Compact Disc (CDs).

It’s not until the 6th Generation gaming and onwards where sound design and audio within Video Games have become a collection and creative recipe of all variants of it’s predecessors. If you can, picture (aurally), soundscapes and sound design which create an urge in the user to feel emotion or react to sound in a way that effects their gameplay. The Metal Gear Solid Series is an excellent example of this,  where the gameplay soundtrack seamlessly mix into high-tense environments and then to more calming scenes where the user is safe in their current environment. Along with all Foley, Background, found sound design, the entire experience covers a range of depth, with viciously noticeable sounds in the foreground and the more subtle elements which create the atmosphere but aren’t necessarily always noticeable.

Without these complimentary aural senses the user is almost playing the entire video game blind. As their reactions to the challenges within the game assist to solve the obstacles the video game possesses. Essentially, sound design is the true reality behind what you see with your eyes, must also be seen with your ears.

The aim and “end game” for my research is to highlight how video games use audio in a creative and most interesting way to induce a reaction from the gamer – (And I’m not talking about Dance Dance Revolution, or Guitar Hero variants) The search for “clever use” of audio in video games is very limited, which I believe will be a challenge in itself. However, exploring tangents of this idea of “Audio Effect/Driven Video Games” will be something I have to explore further and then hopefully narrow down from there.

The Search continues – any ideas will be kindly appreciated”

As you will see in my next post, I have since gone off on a tangent; and have been picking up the pieces slowly to finding a path in creating my own game, and having a solid framework to work off. Any suggestions from here on out would be wonderful!

– Dan

3 thoughts on “Audio: The True Hero In All Video Games?

  1. I love that someone is researching and presenting about how important music is to games. The amount of times i’ve seen a thread on reddit about “What game had the best soundtrack?”
    Games and movies are similar, they’re both pieces of artwork essentially, and the musical components are very key to how the content is perceived and experienced. You can fool the eye, but not the ear.

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  2. I mean just look at Horror games (which I stay away from) without the audio there would be no atmosphere! Slender is a great example!

    Also, definitely check out Jeremy Soule, he’s a video game composer who worked on The Elder Scrolls IV and V. His music is incredible, and it truly pulls you into the game world.

    I still think this is the best thing he’s created: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_R8N70nqBE

    I also really love Yoko Shimomura who in her own right has become an incredibly influential video game composer. She famously composed the music for the Kingdom Hearts series where she wonderfully not only creates original and memorable thematic songs, but also blends her own style with famous Disney pieces in the relative worlds. I’d certainly recommend checking her work out!

    I really think sound design is essential for the fantasy video games offer the player. Sure great graphics might be alluring, but it truly is the sounds, both diegetic and non-diegetic that turn the immersion lever up to max!

    Reminds me of George Lucas who said that the only thing that surpassed his expectations in making the original Star Wars films was John William’s score.

    Good luck with your project, it’s such a great idea! Looking forward to hearing more!

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  3. Man, I’ve just figured out who you are!! HELLO! HOW ARE YOU! After reading through your post, I think I was so engaged because we’d discussed elements of it today~ Anywho; great to put a digital presence to the face.

    Perhaps utilising audio in games as the key feature for finding clues to advance a character is a path you could take; kind of like how in horror games, your sound gets more dramatic the closer you get to the jump scare; you could have certain themes which play when you get closer to a goal (not necessarily a jump scare). I think this could work really nicely in VR, but it’s just a thought for exploration.
    Another avenue you could go down is to follow a typical game style, but deliberately choose music which does not normally go with that game style in order to alter and change the experience between the gamer and game, creating a new understanding of the way the game works though the interaction of different musical styles.

    After having a look at this article (http://gamestudies.org/1301/articles/oldenburg_sonic_mechanics) another thought that comes to mind is the idea of a game for those who don’t have good sight; utilising and drawing upon sound to create a sonic map of which the player can immerse themselves within.

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