Hear The Music, Play The Game. Music And Game Design: Interplays And Perspectives

Call for articles
GAME – Games as Art, Media, Entertainment
Hear The Music, Play The Game. Music And Game Design: Interplays And Perspectives
Edited by Hillegonda C. Rietveld and Marco Benoît Carbone

Music composition and sound design in video games are important dimensions in the experience of play, gaining increased acknowledgement and attention within the game industry. The growing relevance and success of several kinds of music-based games, and their codification in novel genres and sub-genres, illustrates one tendency in this shift of focus towards the aural in relation to the usually visual dominance of the medium. This calls for an attempt to reconsider the often-overlooked impact of music and its role in defining games. Arguably, a distinction can be made between games in which music functions in the background, and games in which music is an integral part of the game mechanics. For example, attention to game music demands a reconsideration of the importance of sonic content in past productions, and to look at practices like the revival of chip music, associated with early arcade, console, and home computer games. Meanwhile, the music industry has recognized the importance of game music, as demonstrated by the growing amount of releases of game sound tracks as well as occasional in-game music sales in and across new and different markets. Composers and sound designers have too often been regarded as contributors to the final phases of game development, despite the central affective power of music production in game design and the experience of play.

So far, academic research has focused mostly on general aspects of sound design. There seems to exist a vastly unexplored area of analysis for thinking about how technological change, market differentiations, and evolving social contexts of media consumption have affected game-music interactions over the past decades. With this call for papers, we encourage research on music as a multi-faceted creative and professional practice, of importance to the development and understanding of video games. Through a focus on music in relation to the overall game architecture we wish to emphasize the aural as a crucial dimension. Encouraging contributions from video game and music scholars, including musicologists, semioticians and media researchers, we are interested in papers exploring the intersections, interaction, and growing reciprocal influences between these fields.

We are particularly interested in analyses that focus on aspects and issues at the intersection of game and music studies that include, but not are limited to, the following themes:

  • The general impact of music in game experience, on the acoustic space of games and on how a game is played within its sonic architecture.
  • Non-linear approaches to music in game making: interactive sonicscapes, audio environments, immersive experiences.
  • The impact of technologies in music creation: audio chips, storage devices, gaming systems and their relation with music design and musicians.
  • Music game genres, streams, prototypes and innovative programming and/or performance, seen in professional, audience, and cultural context.
  • Composers and music makers within game production teams or as game makers, seen through their specific background and contexts as composers, DJs, singers, voice actors, from different disciplinary perspectives.
  • Game musicians as game personalities and their impact on defining leading franchises, brands, and gaming universes.

Authors are encouraged to submit an initial proposal of 500 words (excluding bibliography) by 15 October 2015 as a Word document or PDF to rietvehc[at]lsbu.ac.uk and marcobenoitcarbone[at]gmail.com. The proposal should describe the topic, outline the main aims and question or argument, and provide relevant references. Notification of acceptance to the issue will be communicated by 5 November 2015. Authors of successful proposals will then be asked to submit a full article of no more than 7,000 words by 25 February 2016. Papers will undergo a double-blind peer review process. Accepted contributions will be published in a 2016 issue of GAME – Games as Art, Media, Entertainment.

Marco Benoît Carbone (London College of Communication): marcobenoitcarbone[at]gmail.com
Prof Hillegonda C. Rietveld (London South Bank University): rietvehc[at]lsbu.ac.uk