Questions on Sound

Before reading Whalen’s article on music in videogames, I did not give much thought to the music I hear while playing a game. I knew that certain beats, tempos, and rhythms elicited certain emotions in me, like fear, happiness, and agitation, but I never really thought of how the music altered my mood. Truly, this aspect of game design helps immerse a player in the game world and, as Whalen suggests, causes one to be “…blissfully unaware of one’s surroundings and the passing of time”. I can think of many times that I have been so immersed in a game that when I finally pause, I am surprised to see that four or five hours have passed since I began playing. This brings me to my first question: have any of you found yourself in a similar situation of total immersion while playing a video game?

Continuing on, three games are examined in this article: Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Silent Hill. With Super Mario Brothers, Whalen describes how an increase in the music’s tempo signals to players that time is running out. This brings me to my second question: if you were to play Super Mario Brothers without sound, do you think you would notice the timer more or less? For myself, I would feel compelled to look at the timer more often, since I would not have any audio cues to alert me. Others, though, might forget about the timer until it is too late.

In his analysis of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Silent Hill, Whalen discusses how a change in music can alert players to an approaching danger or villain. Sometimes this is integral to survival, as in Silent Hill, and other times it is supplementary to the player’s own view of the game space, as in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I also found it interesting that Whalen believed that survival horror games must “sustain a consistent and pervasive mood of terror or apprehension in the player”. Since I have never played a survival horror game (I have only watched someone else do so), I ask those of you who have if you agree or disagree with this statement. Can you think of any horror games that have “happy” or “uplifting” music, even if it is only for a small portion of the game?

Finally, if you all have the time, I urge you to go to this website and listen to the sound clips posted by Gnik. Afterwards, describe the emotions you felt while listening to each. I think it will be interesting to see if most of us feel the same or different about the music. Also, do you think you would feel a stronger emotion if you were able to see the scenery that accompanies the sound?

This entry was posted in First Readers. Bookmark the permalink.