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A Comprehensive Study of Sound in Computer Games: How Audio Affects Player Action
Jørgensen, Kristine


This study examines the functionality of sound in computer games, a topic which has received little attention in game studies and media studies. It is a study of the communicative aspects of sound in computer games that utilizes theories from both film studies and research on audio as a system of information in computer-based and physical environments.


“A special strength is [the author’s] emphasis on the functionality of sound in computer games; the studies explore the relationship between game audio and player actions. This is particularly welcome in an area where much public debate remains concerned about what media may do to people, and in which a substantial portion of research so far has been preoccupied with the forms and aesthetics of gaming.” – Prof. Klaus Bruhn Jensen, University of Copenhagen

“Jørgensen’s study is clearly argued, methodologically sound, theoretically original, and provides game studies with (to my knowledge) the first comprehensive account of the role of sound and audition in game design and play. It will thus be a welcome contribution both to the understanding of gaming and game audio - as well as the role of sound in audiovisual media in general.” – Prof. Arnt Maasø, University of Oslo

“. . . likely to help set the agenda for further studies of sound in gaming as well as other communicative practices. In addition to its theoretical overviews and empirical findings, the work makes a strong case for the value of detailed empirical studies as a basis for theory development.” – Prof. Jon Dovey, University of the West of England

Table of Contents

FOREWORD by Prof. Klaus Bruhn Jensen
1.1 Themes & Problems
1.2 Methodological & Theoretical Background
1.3 Objects of Analysis
1.4 The Structure of the Book
2.1 The History of Game Audio
Phase 1: Earliest Developments
Phase 2: Games Go Commercial
Phase 3: Establishing Functionality
Phase 4: Towards Modern Times
2.2 The Games of Study: Formal Description & Historical Contextualization
2.2.1 Genre & History. Classification of Two Games
2.2.2 Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. A Formal Description
a) Gameplay & Interface
b) Sound Features
2.2.3 Hitman Contracts: A Formal Description
a) Gameplay & Interface
b) Sound Features
2.2.4 Summary: Warcraft III vs. Hitman Contracts
3.1 Games, Computer Games & Players
3.1.1 Understanding Games
3.1.2 Player Experiences of Games
3.2 Computer Games as Virtual Worlds & as User Systems
3.2.1 Games as Virtual Worlds
3.2.2 Sound in Virtual Worlds
3.2.3 Sound as User System Feature
3.4 The Audiovisual Alliance
3.4.1 The Unity of Sound & Image
3.4.2 Films vs. Games as Representational Systems
3.5 Hearing & Listening
3.6 Games as Auditory Displays
3.6.1 The Use of Audio as Sign System
a) Auditory Icons & Earcons
b) Iconic & Arbitrary Sound Relations
3.6.2 Functionality: Urgency & Response
3.7 Transdiegetic Sounds
3.7.1 Branigan’s Spatial Understanding of Music in Film
3.7.2 Diegetic & Extradiegetic Spaces in Games
3.7.3 Transdiegesis as Concept
3.7.4 Why Transdiegetic Space?
3.8 Conclusions
4.1 Selection of Informants
4.2 Procedure
4.2.1 Game Audio Designer Studies
4.2.2 Player Studies
4.3 Review of the Study
5.1 Game Audio Development as a Trade
5.2 Sound in the Development Process
5.3 Intentions and Functions of Game Audio
5.3.1 The Realization of Game Audio in the Company’s Latest Title
5.4 Summary
6.1 The Functionality of Sound in Warcraft III:
6.1.1 Usability Sounds
a) Earcons
b) Non-Arbitrary Auditory Icons
c) Semantic Use of Voice
d) Iconic Auditory Icons
6.1.2 Idenfication & Value
6.1.3 Sound & Atmosphere
6.1.4 Sound & Orientation
a) Playing Without Sound
b) The Mini-Map
c) Attention & Apprehension
6.1.5 Warcraft III: A Summary
6.2 The Functionality of Sound in Hitman Contracts
6.2.1 Usability Sounds
a) Auditory Icons
b) Non-Musical Earcons
c) Musical Earcons
a) The Semantic Use of Voice
6.2.2 The Atmospheric Function of Sound a) Music
b) A Realistic Soundscape?
6.2.3 Sound & Orientation
a) Playing Without Sound
b) Attention & Apprehension
6.2.4 Hitman Contracts: A Summary
6.3 Memory of Game Audio: Recall & Recognition
6.3.1 Recalling Game Audio
6.3.2 Recognizing Game Audio
a) Warcraft III: Diegetic Sounds from Battle
b) Warcraft III: Response from a Military Unit
c) Warcraft III: Diegetic Sounds of Wood Chopping
d) Warcraft III: Response from a Civilian Building
e) Warcraft III: “Our town is under attack!”
f) Hitman Contracts: Sound of a Voice: Denied Entrance
g) Hitman Contracts: Violent Action Music
h) Hitman Contracts: Signal Messages
6.3.3 Memories of Sound in Other Games
6.3.4 Summary: Memories of Game Audio
6.4 Hitman Contracts vs. Warcraft III: Comparative Remarks
7.1 The Transdiegetic Function
7.2 Other Functions
7.3 Comparative Observations
7.4 Methodology & Empirical Studies
7.5 Future Research?
Web sources

ISBN10:  0-7734-3826-2   ISBN13:  978-0-7734-3826-2    Pages:  284    Year:  2009   

Series: hors série Number: 0

Imprint: Edwin Mellen Press

USA List Price: $139.95 UK List Price: £ 94.95  

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