Video Game Sound Design – The Final

SIMPLY TAYLORLANI, VIDEO GAME SOUND DESIGN VERSION

Contextual Report, BCM215, Game Media Industries 

Author – Taylor Housman, 2021

Overview:

As explained in the Pitch, I (Simply Taylorlani), would be exploring the concept of Video Game Sound Design in relation to the study of the class Game Media Industries. This class was an open area to create and study within, allowing for the picking of a Digital Artifact to be difficult to pinpoint. This is why ST decided on focusing on not a single game or era of them but rather a single aspect that is a part of the majority. The goal here was to critically analyse the chosen media text or paratext.  

The inspiration for this project stemmed from a love of nostalgic Video Game soundtracks such as Nintendo, which is a primary example used throughout this DA. Shared within the Pitch is Youtube Ambience Nintendo inspired videos, which was the starting point. The importance of sound was briefly mentioned, but later became a larger aspect.

Before the publication of the Beta, I produced written content going through the history of sound design in correlation to video games, along with a post dedicated to favourite sounds and ambient inspired playlists, highlighting the different aspects they are used outside of game media space. Written content was the original product to be produced by this DA, and developed to sharing game music stuff on the content based Instagram via stories. 

To be fair, this project did not go as planned. I found that researching this topic was interesting, which led to the brief history post, however it was difficult to create engaging content with. There were many draft pieces, ideas and concepts relating to methodology and research floating around, with little actually being produced. This was largely due to the fact I had no idea to break apart information into separate blog posts outside of things like “a history” etc. Along with being able to find a personal voice that didn’t feel as if I was quoting a textbook. Ultimately, while I did small efforts like Instagram stories, I had no idea what to do with this project, with my information, which created an unmotivated environment. I found myself focusing on other DA’s over this one. 

While I, the creator, grew bored with the project with no path on how to improve, it was also lacking in any kind of engagement. A lesson would be that people are not that interested in reading about Game Media, and as am I. 

Some Research:

This source was a great introduction to “Sound and Music in Film and Visual Media” as it is a critical overview and not directly Video Game related. This was helpful because it conveyed a connective idea and the way different forms of media, like films and games, utilises aspects of design like sound. 

“The Evolution Of Video Game Music” aided in creating understanding. As someone who isn’t intensely invested in history, especially not of games, this was able to convey points of it to me. “History Of Video Games” – “Whereas in the early years the music was often created by the programmers themselves, today’s video game scores are created by film music composers…”

Because of my slight focus on Nintendo, I went a little deeper in trying to uncover some of the history for their Sound Design, especially with how known in Pop Culture it is. “Kondo, however, felt differently: ‘I wanted to create something that had never been heard before, where you’d think, “this isn’t like game music at all…”’, he said in a 2007 interview with Wired.”

Some other notable sources that were helpful and interesting in this project were:

Methodology:

From that last point of nostalgia, I explored the frameworks of Nostalgia, Aesthetics and Genre. I explore this largely in these two blog posts. “Nostalgia is powerful here because over time simple aspects such as Sound Design become ingrained within your mind…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…Horror soundtracks are so emotive, they create a connection with the audience. Thye make you feel something…” (Myself, ‘Yes More Game Sound Design’). 

Feedback & Final:

Over the course of this project, mainly through both the Pitch and Beta as those had the most engagement, I received mainly positive feedback. This was mainly from peers, who were helpful in creating more understanding of my own content, who provided positive words like how interesting the initial concept was. 

I believe this project had good intentions, had the right idea and in theory would have worked. However, it is abundantly clear that even when something looks good on paper, in action it can fail. This whole process has been a learning curve for myself, and while I am disappointed in the turn out, am grateful for the experience. 

References:

Bridgett, R. (2013). Contextualizing game audio aesthetics (J. Richardson, C. Gorbman, & C. Vernallis, Eds.). Oxford University Press.

Dazed (2020) Going deep on the blissful brilliance of Animal Crossing’s soundtrack, Dazeddigital.com. Available at: https://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/48988/1/going-deep-on-the-blissful-brilliance-animal-crossings-soundtrack-new-horizons 

Extraverts, E. I. N. (no date) A thesis presented to, Gatech.edu. Available at: https://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/handle/1853/54462/LEVY-THESIS-2015.pdf 

Friedman, L. (2016) “Why nostalgia marketing works so well with millennials, and how your brand can benefit,” Forbes Magazine, 2 August. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurenfriedman/2016/08/02/why-nostalgia-marketing-works-so-well-with-millennials-and-how-your-brand-can-benefit/ 

Fritsch, M. (2013). History of video game music. In Music and Game (pp. 11–40). Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden.

geargods (2018) The importance of sound design in video gaming, Geargods.net. Available at: https://geargods.net/editorials/the-importance-of-sound-design-in-video-gaming/ 

How Nintendo changed the course of music history (no date) Frieze.com. Available at: https://www.frieze.com/article/nintendo-music-super-mario-bros-metroid-game-soundtrack 

Jack Wall – IMDb (no date) Imdb.com. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0908410/ 

Klimmt, C., Possler, D., May, N., Auge, H., Wanjek, L., & Wolf, A.-L. (2019). Effects of soundtrack music on the video game experience. Media Psychology, 22(5), 689–713.

kotakuinternational (2019) Why nostalgia for video games is uniquely powerful, Com.au. Available at: https://www.kotaku.com.au/2019/02/why-nostalgia-for-video-games-is-uniquely-powerful/ 

Lane, N., & Prestopnik, N. R. (2017). Diegetic connectivity: Blending work and play with storytelling in serious games. Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play.

Leamcharaskul, J. (2017) What is Horror Game Music and its Effect on the Player?, Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/@JDWasabi/what-is-horror-game-music-and-its-effect-on-the-player-c3bfff3bc51d 

NPR (2008) “The evolution of video game music,” NPR, 13 April. Available at: https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89565567 

Roberts, R. (2014). Fear of the unknown: Music and sound design in psychological horror games. In Music In Video Games (pp. 152–164). Routledge.

Tierney, J. (2013) “What is nostalgia good for? Quite a bit, research shows,” The New York times, 8 July. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/09/science/what-is-nostalgia-good-for-quite-a-bit-research-shows.html 

Wood, S. (2009) “Video game music: High scores: Making sense of music and video games,” Sound and Music in Film and Visual Media. The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. doi: 10.5040/9781628928969.ch-007. 

(No date) 134.178:9000. Available at: http://45.114.134.178:9000/digi/MP03/B1L3-0048.pdf#page=172 

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