Here’s the thing, I have spoken a lot about the way the framework of Nostalgia corresponds to Video Game Sound Design but I haven’t really touched on anything else. In this post I will be going deeper in my exploration of frameworks, those being Nostalgia, Aesthetics, and Genre.
Nostalgia is tightly connected to Pop Culture, in the way that makes it important to extrude that nostalgic tightness within your chest. This is increasingly important to Video Games, and thus Sound Design, in how relevant they are in contemporary Pop Culture.
“Fenty argues that “video games are places—they are states of being; and because they are stored, unchanging data, they tease with the hope for a possibility of return, if only we can gain access to them.”
A lot of people turn to gaming as escapism from reality, to take a break from their lives and jump into another. Nostalgia is powerful here because over time simple aspects such as Sound Design become ingrained within your mind. You interpret and relate this aspect of game play to those things and when paired with other factors – marketing a new game, merch, other extending parties like perhaps a movie – you pull in an audience.
Hand in hand with Nostalgia, Aesthetics take such an important play in game sound design. Now, how exactly is music aesthetic? Well, sound is there to enhance the visual experience by adding to it and so by nature the overall aesthetic of the game is needed in context. Imagine playing Animal Crossing without their classic soundtrack but instead one of a horror game. It changes the interpretation, connectivity and experience.
“Sound design now can use musical software to enhance sound effects in films and music composers to incorporate sound effect recordings. Soundtrack elements now appear to have an “aesthetic” character. Technology has engendered a spatial sonic arena wherein sonic elements have mixed into a sensual and psychological field.” While this is in more relation to films, it applies just as much to Video Games.
I touched briefly on how changing the soundtrack of a relaxing game to one of horror changes the interpretations, the meaning and the context of the game. This is why genre is important to Sound Design. Much like aesthetics, you can’t just throw some sounds over the top of a visual, it needs to belong.
Horror soundtracks are so emotive, they create a connection with the audience. Thye make you feel something, much like nostalgic games, but different. Brainstem Reflex (Flight of Fight Response), Lacking ‘ear lids’, and Biological Responses both internal and external are all part of the way horror game Sound Design can make you feel. On edge, sweaty, anxious.
This is polar opposite to games I have mentioned before, the connection and the effects are different but the relevance and importance of developed Sound is there. Sound Design is much more than three framework principles of Nostalgia, Aesthetics, and Genre. Sound Design is partly what makes these things integral to a game.
Bridgett, R. (2013). Contextualizing game audio aesthetics (J. Richardson, C. Gorbman, & C. Vernallis, Eds.). Oxford University Press.
Friedman, L. (2016, August 2). Why nostalgia marketing works so well with millennials, and how your brand can benefit. Forbes Magazine. https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurenfriedman/2016/08/02/why-nostalgia-marketing-works-so-well-with-millennials-and-how-your-brand-can-benefit/
kotakuinternational. (2019, February 8). Why nostalgia for video games is uniquely powerful. Com.Au. https://www.kotaku.com.au/2019/02/why-nostalgia-for-video-games-is-uniquely-powerful/
Leamcharaskul, J. (2017, November 20). What is Horror Game Music and its Effect on the Player? Medium. https://medium.com/@JDWasabi/what-is-horror-game-music-and-its-effect-on-the-player-c3bfff3bc51d
(N.d.). 134.178:9000. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from http://126.96.36.199:9000/digi/MP03/B1L3-0048.pdf#page=172