James M. Potter

writings on music, games, and culture

Tag: immersion

Players: compose yourselves

Game designers use music in games to try and control or shape your reaction to in-game events and circumstances so that it fits into their vision. But what happens when players aren’t content with this, and substituteĀ their own music for whatever the composer/sound designer has provided? The game experience can change in innumerable subtle and unpredictable ways according to what sounds the player is hearing.

In a fascinating recent study (which you can read in full here), Alexander Wharton and Karen Collins show just how disparate the game-playing styles of players can be when they are given (or choose) different music. Read the rest of this entry »

Immersion vs Realism vs Music

Is music in games ‘realistic’? Should it be?

One of the most important words being bandied around by games developers at the moment isĀ immersion. It is an absolutely key concept for any designer who wants to create an experience that will draw in the player for as long as they play the game, and, crucially, keep them coming back.

One of the ways some games attempt to engender a degree of immersion is by mimicking as closely as possible the look and feel of what we perhaps rather arrogantly call ‘the real world’. The first-person shooter genre is a particular fan of this approach. Setting aside certain bold attempts at a more surrealist or satirical art design (Team Fortress 2 springs to mind), the most successful FPS games in recent years have been marked by attention to detail, and the thorough working-out of how events would proceed in worlds which closely resemble our own: in other words, realism. It’s not difficult to find examples of this new verismo, driven by advances in graphical hardware that make it ever easier to emulate the real world: the Half-Life 2 franchise, Call of Duty, Battlefield, to name but a few popular examples. Read the rest of this entry »