Emotional Sound in Computer Games


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Emotional Sound in Computer Games

  1. 1. Psychologically Motivated Techniques for Inger Ekman Department of Media Technology Helsinki University of Technology Emotional Sound in Computer Games
  2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>Emotions – a short introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Emotion and fiction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Real emotions with unreal events? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How do we create emotion with sound? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive-evaluative frameworks and sound </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-cognitive and unconscious emotion </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Implications for game sound design </li></ul>
  3. 3. Emotions <ul><li>Temporary affective reactions to events </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluation of an event of significance in relation to a goal or situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Involves readiness to act and preparation for certain types of actions + sense of urgency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experienced as a distinctive type of mental state + bodily changes , expressions, actions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Compare to mood, personality: longer timescale, lack of directionality </li></ul>
  4. 4. What causes emotions? <ul><li>EVALUATIVE processes </li></ul><ul><li>Emotion is evolutionarily motivated, related to survival: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Succeeding, positive, beneficial -> Pleasure, ”pursue” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Failing, negative, harmful -> Displeasure, ”avoid” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More detail: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anticipated outcome, ”I should be able to do this” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perceived cause, ”That guy is standing in my way” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social aspect, cultural norms, ”I’m supposed to stay calm” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>... </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The social aspect requires being able to understand and predict others’ emotions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Empathetically relating to how they would feel in a certain situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Automatically mirroring emotions </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. ” Unconscious emotion” and misattribution <ul><li>Emotions require evaluation, just not necessarily conscious evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>” Unconscious emotion” or pre-cognitive value judgements – judgements such as like/dislike can be instantaneous </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluations may change with time as a result of cognitive evaluation and re-evaluation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The process of assigning emotion to certain events is prone to error: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluation takes place all the time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bodily processes make us feel different all the time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to distinguish which event causes which emotion? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>When we don’t get it right -> misattribution </li></ul>
  6. 6. Emotion and Fiction <ul><li>Emotion relates to evaluation. </li></ul><ul><li>Why would evaluation of fictional events make us feel anything? </li></ul><ul><li>Fictive game events become meaningful and cause real emotions through relation with the player </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Empathy with fictive characters if the events seem relevant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Emotional investment in the events on screen requires we have adequate understanding to make sense of events. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluations related to progress in game </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Requires understanding basic rules and investing in goal-related behavior. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Unconscious emotion ”colors” our perception of temporally congruent events </li></ul>
  7. 7. Sound and Emotion <ul><li>Sound can help create a sense of apparent reality which increases chances of investing emotionally in fictive events </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not about realistic sound, but facilitating understanding of the story </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Narrative fit </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sound can facilitate gameplay </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Any sound that supports meaningful play, helps make sense of own actions in relation to game progress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Functional fit </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sound provides ample material for ’loose’ emotions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-cognitive value judgements: low-level psychology (contrast, affective-mimicry) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive processes not consciously attended to (music, periferal processes) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Sound and Emotion Emotions Influencing perception Emotions from story and playing Game: Goal-related evaluation Story: Empathetic evaluation Game goals match Character goals Moods Bodily states Non-attentional evaluations Unconscious emotion Emotional events Jolly mix of everything
  9. 9. Implications for Game Sound Design <ul><li>Two competing mindsets: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>story-driven and goal-driven </li></ul></ul><ul><li>-> Two competing sound design strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Depend on different evaluation processes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Partly contradictory </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A lot of emotion created with ’loose sound’ </li></ul>
  10. 10. Alternative Roles for Sound <ul><li>Gaming </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on playing, doing </li></ul><ul><li>Guide attention to play-related events & object </li></ul><ul><li>Sounds highlight multiple choices, alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Highlight emotional moments in user decision-making </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation related to goal-structure, actions within the game </li></ul><ul><li>Sounds facilitate doing </li></ul><ul><li>Story </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>Focus attention on important story components </li></ul><ul><li>Sounds support telling a single story </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasize predetermined emotional arch </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation related to empathetic relation with protagonist </li></ul><ul><li>Sounds explain/hide non-activity </li></ul>