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games research

The Wonders of Immersion

A relatively recent game, Guild Wars 2, has released a handful of videos covering the sound team’s efforts to immerse the user into the game via audio tracks.  They begin by describing the immense detail they put into each sound.  Every individual piece has multi-variable rapidly changing audio tracks layering sub-tracks within sub-tracks.  They use a dynamic mixing system to replicate the character’s perception of the sounds in his/her environment.  In layman’s terms, certain sounds are amplfied, edited, or muffled to replicate the sensation of hearing something behind you, in front of you, or through a door.

McGonigal explains how one of the “fixes” for reality is that there needs to be an emotional activation, something to focus our energy (Fix #2).   Audio tracks and sound effects are a few of the subtle pieces of a game that focus the attention, an addition that has long since permeated video game development.  Often times, player take this for granted.  In the classic game Tetris, as the player’s tower of pieces approaches the top, the music accelerates to simulate the adrenaline rush felt by the player.  In some player-vs.-player simulations, like the Halo franchise, the game comments on and encourages success, noting minor achievements such as a ‘Killing Spree’, ‘Kill from the Grave’, or ‘Revenge’.  The various forms of audio, both direct and indirect, create a level of immersion that, despite high-definition graphics, visual effects cannot single-handedly create.  Game designers strive to entice all five senses in video games to invoke the strongest emotions.   Guild Wars 2 shows this higher caliber of work put into these audio tracks, sometimes even going “outside of the box” to achieve what they are looking for.

Here are the links of the videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiamRvDqk9s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5x2kO0Jq6A

I would love to see what you guys can find on other game designers.

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