Implications of Interactivity: What does it mean for sound to be “interactive”

Video games have had a turbulent life in the short time they have been around. With sales exploding over recent years however it is no surprise of the quality of sound development that has been made. Cheng tells us in her “Monstrous Noise” article, how In the early days of video games composers took limited sounds and had to make grandiose effects with them. The technological restraints limited the early development of these interactive features. In Keren Collins article she talks about this growth and how over time music has been developed in games to provide feedback to a player. Feedback is all those sounds that you hear every second of the game. Some are interactive while others are non-interactive. I’m a video game enthusiast and although I dont play as much as I would like, I can personally attest to the benefit of sound quality development over the last decade. Games of course can be played with the sound off, but turning the sound off in a videogame can be detrimental to some. I mentioned during my presentation that I was watching my friends play NFL Blitz 2001 on Nintendo 64 one night, when one of them decided to put on some music instead of listening to the game through the television. My other friend protested saying he likes to hear the “hike” sound from the quarterback, and that having the game audible helps him play better. When my other friend initially refused to raise the volume, he put the game on pause and refused to play until the volume was adjusted. While this may have been an extreme reaction, after reading Collins article, it is more understandable.

The main issue the article deals with is how interactive sound differs from non-interactive sound. This next generation of sound style focuses on how interactive sound literally helps the user. As Bert Bongers notes “Interaction between a human and a system is a two way process. The system is controlled by the user and the system gives feedback to help the user to articulate the control or feed-forward to actively guide the user.” An example of this is in  Cheng’s article. “The white noise causes fear but also guides the player through the game and helps identify enemies.” Interactive sound “steers the players actions with masterful efficiency.”

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