Sunday, January 6, 2013

Surveying Literature: From Pac-Man to Pop Music

I finished reading From Pac-Man to Pop Music today on my flight back from my dad's 60th birthday.  It's a great collection of essays, but I found some of them to be much more applicable to game sound, and particularly the areas of game music study that I'm interested in than others.  While all the essays are interesting, a few stood out to me.  Here are my immediate reaction to my favorite top two essays, followed by a brief mention of the other major features of the collection:

Left in the Dark: playing computer games with the sound turned off.  

This essay by Kristine Jørgensen is easily my favorite in the book.  She's compiled quantitative data from game players to study their reaction to playing games with the sound on and off.  I'm super interested in how game music draws the player deeper into the game and these are the first research oriented pages I've read about that, beyond the opinion Whalen has in his article.  I've got up next on my reading table Jørgensen's A comprehensive study of sound in computer games: how audio affects player action, which will quite likely be similar.  

Music Theory in Music Games

Peter Shultz's essay was probably my second favorite in the collection.  I like the way he describes music games and their representation of pitch and time in non-standard ways.  I'm contemplating an upcoming blog entry to show concrete examples of these descriptions.  

I also quite liked Rob Bridgett's Dynamic Range: subtlety and silence in video game sounds for describing the process of building game audio to climatic events.  And, even though I mentioned Antti-Ville Kärjä's Marketing Music Through Computer Games: the case of Poets of the Fall and Max Payne 2 in a previous blog, it's still of great interest to me because it's the only discussion I know of that directly correlates music marketing and game audio.  One of the other great features of the book is the selected annotated bibliography.  This will provide me several directions of study to follow, and I'm thrilled to see a list, albeit short, of online resources that music scholars have deemed important.