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Stockburger, A. (2006). The rendered arena: Modalities of space in video and computer games. Unpublished thesis PhD, University of the Arts, London. 
Added by: sirfragalot (05/15/2008 10:06:35 AM)   
Resource type: Thesis/Dissertation
BibTeX citation key: Stockburger2006
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Categories: Sound Design
Keywords: Acousmatic sound, Sound objects, Space
Creators: Stockburger
Publisher: University of the Arts (London)
Resources citing this (Bibliography: WIKINDX Master Bibliography)
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During the last 30 years computer and videogames have grown into a large entertainment industry of economical as well as cultural and social importance.As a distinctive field of academic inquiry begins to evolve in the form of game studies, the majority of approaches can be identified as emerging either from a background of literary theory which motivates a concentration on narrative structures or from a dedicated focus on the rules in video and computer games. However, one of the most evident properties of those games is their shared participation in a variety of spatial illusions. Although most researchers share the view that issues related to mediated space are among the most significant factors characterising the new medium, as of yet, no coherent conceptual exploration of space and spatial representation in video and computer games has been undertaken.

This thesis focuses on the novel spatial paradigms emerging from computer and video games. It aims to develop an original theoretical framework that takes the hybrid nature of the medium into account. The goal of this work is to extend the present range of methodologies directed towards the analysis of digital games. In order to reveal the roots of the spatial apparatus at work an overview of the most significant conceptions of space in western thought is given. Henri Lefebvre’s reading of space as a triad of perceived, conceived and lived space is adopted. This serves to account for the multifaceted nature of the subject, enables the integration of divergent spatial conceptions as part of a coherent framework, and highlights the importance of experiential notions of spatiality. Starting from Michel Foucault’s notion of the heterotopia, game-space is posited as the dynamic interplay between different spatial modalities. As constitutive elements of the dynamic spatial system mobilized by digital games the following modalities are advanced: the physical space of the player, the space emerging from the narrative, the rules, the audiovisual representation and the kinaesthetic link between player and game. These different modalities are examined in detail in the light of a selected range of exemplary games. Based on a discussion of film theory in this context an original model that serves to distinguish between different visual representational strategies is presented. A chapter is dedicated to the analysis of the crucial and often overlooked role of sound for the generation of spatial illusions. It is argued that sound has to be regarded as the privileged element that enables the active use of representational space in three dimensions. Finally the proposed model is mobilised to explore how the work of contemporary artists relates to the spatial paradigms set forth by digital games. The critical dimension of artistic work in this context is outlined. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the impact of the prevalent modes of spatial practice in computer and video games on wider areas of everyday life.
Added by: sirfragalot  Last edited by: sirfragalot
Chapter 4 deals with audio and space in computer games.

Game sounds are treated as sound objects and categorized as:
speech sound objects,
effect sound objects (linked to visual objects or events in the game space),
zone sound objects (aurally define areas in the game space),
score sound objects (musical score) and
interface sound objects.

See also (Stockburger 2003).

Stockburger, A. 2003, November 4–6 The game environment from an auditive perspective. Paper presented at Level Up, Utrecht Universiteit.
Added by: sirfragalot  Last edited by: sirfragalot
p.176   "The sound theoretician R. Murray Schafer considers Aivilik culture as an example for the reversal of visual dominance developed in the European Renaissance. He points out that within the Eskimo culture acoustic space influences and supersedes visual space."   Added by: sirfragalot
Keywords:   Space Visual Space
p.176   "With the exception of a number of text-based games, the overwhelming majority [of computer games] have to be regarded as audiovisual kinaesthetic artefacts and the relationship between sound and image lies at the centre of the gaming experience."   Added by: sirfragalot
Keywords:   Kinaesthetics
p.182   "[...] it is quite obvious that a mode of reduced listening will not be achieved during the playing of an audiovisual game, simply because one is drawn
to construct relations between the visual and auditory information. It is, however, possible to describe sound qualities that are inherently spatial, independent of an indexical connection to their source."   Added by: sirfragalot
Keywords:   Listening modes
p.182   "[...] there is no “natural” relationship between a visual object and a sound, simply because all of these elements are brought together by an “artificial” program. This is not an entirely new phenomenon, since quite clearly in the case of film the relationship between the visual and the audible is also artificially established during the post-production phase. Still it could be argued that in the case of digital games there is an even higher degree of artificiality, since so many of the objects in play are part of imaginary universes."   Added by: sirfragalot
p.185   "[Effect sound objects may be] classified as being linked to the avatar, the game characters, objects, and events."   Added by: sirfragalot
Keywords:   Sound objects
p.187   "Game music has a huge emotional impact on the player and it generally enhances the feeling of immersion."   Added by: sirfragalot
Keywords:   Immersion Music
pp.190-208   Stockburger proposes five spatializing functions of sound objects:

  • Acousmatic function – defines the relation between a sound object and the
    visibility of the related visual element.
  • Indexical function – delivers information that is vital for the gameplay (e.g. ticking sound of bomb).
  • Spatial signature function – is present when the surrounding space affects the qualities of sound objects (e.g. echo, reverb).
  • Motion function – defines the motion of sound objects.
  • Motoric function – simulates movement or motion (motor sounds in racing or
    flying games, footstep sounds in FPS games).
  Added by: sirfragalot
Keywords:   Acousmatic sound Indexicality Space
p.194   "In a computer game, while there also exists a set of fixed relations between sound objects and visual objects, the temporal process of visualization and acousmatisation is much more flexible and open to variation. This state of affairs makes it necessary to regard acousmatic functions in a computer game as dynamic functions. There is a constant flux between user-controlled acousmatisation and visualisation on the one hand, and the scripted behaviour designed by game developers to prepare situations of suspense."   Added by: sirfragalot
Keywords:   Acousmatic sound Sound objects Visualization
p.205   "Immersive functions of sounds within the game space depend on low frequencies and the diffusion of individual sound events."   Added by: sirfragalot
Keywords:   Immersion
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