Four ways of hearing video game music

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Four ways of hearing video game music
29‐4‐2015
Four ways of hearing video game music
Michiel Kamp
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29‐4‐2015
“… another layer uniqueness to that that never plays the same thing twice and I love that feeling that every play is just completely different for each person—I think there’s a little bit of magic in that actually.” (Jessica Curry, Director and Composer for Everybody’s gone to the rapture [forthcoming], The Chinese Room)
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Over‐the‐shoulder listening
• Aleatory/dynamic composition
• Poiesis (designer) vs. aesthesis (player)
• “What is the player doing?” vs. “What is the player hearing?”
• When do we hear musical differences?
“[Considering game music as a performance of an aleatory composition] is a fascinating argument, but the problem I see with the result is that music need not have any contact with the player. One could imagine a player ‘performing’ by playing the game while an ‘audience’ listens in on headphones. By considering the musical content of a game as a kind of output, the critic has pre‐empted analysis of the game itself.” (Whalen 2007, p. 73‐4)
• Musical significance
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Background music
• Acoustemological
unobtrusiveness
• Ludological insignificance
• Narratological insignificance
• Mood music
StarCraft: Brood War (1998)
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Background music
• “Inattentive listening” psychologies
• Musical ecologies in video games
• (‘Hard’ and ‘soft’) Affordances
• Safety and danger states or moods?
Unreal (1998)
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Three forms of significance
(Background music)
Semiotic music
• Hearing signs
Ludic music
• Playing along
Aesthetic music
• Moments of reflection
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Semiotic music
• Why should the player care about the music?
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
• Rules of irrelevance
• Arbitrariness of signifiers
• Signals and symbols
Silent Hill (1999)
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Ludic Music
• Playing along to what?
• Movement, synaesthesia, and roleplaying
Journey (2012)
Proteus (2013)
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Aesthetic Music
• The “music itself”
• Reflection and interpretation
Minecraft (2010)
• Arresting qualities
• Friction
• Aesthetic experiences
• Nostalgia
• Beauty in nature
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
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Other ways of hearing?
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