NL: Symposium Videogame Music: Play, Fans, Space


The Videogame Music Symposium: Play, Fans, Space on 13 September, 2011, was a true success! The Sweelinckzaal in Utrecht welcomed over 60 guests – researchers, students, videogame designers, composers, and journalists – throughout the course of this exciting day. The comprehensive aim of this symposium was to outline an agenda for videogame music research, and it did just that.

Karen Collins of University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, kicked off the day with a keynote presentation on how we can learn about social interaction between players, and the motivations for interacting with sound. By examining the many means of playing "with" the game, she began to extrapolate general game design principles.

Following Collins’ keynote, adaptive audio designer Rik Nieuwdorp of Claynote and videogame audio researcher Richard van Tol of HKU and Creative Heroes presented a practical introduction to adaptive sound and music by situating the making of Bohm within a current academic discourse on adaptive audio. Rik and Richard were joined by a panel on Play: Interactive Sound and Music led by videogame music researcher Michiel Kamp, with videogame audio designer and researcher Sander Huiberts of HKU and Creative Heroes, and Editor in Chief and co-founder of Control Magazine, Matthijs Dierckx. The panel discussion explored what adaptive audio consists of, parameters of how it is (and isn’t) achieved, and how it is designed and produced to react appropriately to – and even anticipate – gameplay.

The afternoon session began with a keynote presentation by Mads Haahr of Trinity College Dublin and Haunted Planet Studios. Using examples of his own work on Viking Ghost Hunt(2009), and Falkland Ghost Hunt (2010) at Haunted Planet Studio, Haahr explored audio as a crucial component of location-based mobile games, introducing key concepts such as psychoacoustics and techniques such as generative audio to the discourse.

The Space: 3D Sound and Music workshop immediately followed Haahr’s keynote with volunteer demonstrations of Ju-On, Papa Sangre and Demor, led by videogame music composer and researcher Than van Nispen of Muziek institute MultiMedia (MiMM) in a darkened room. Van Nispen was joined by panelists Mads Haahr, Michiel Kamp, videogame journalist Anna Sonnemans of IDG Netherlands, and moderator Sander Huiberts. The panel discussed audio as prominent in the horror game genre, and explored topics ranging from the demand for a unified videogame audio design vocabulary and the impact and importance of relative silence in gameplay.

Prof. Dr. Joost Raessens of Utrecht University and the Center for the Study of Digital Games and Play concluded the symposium with a keynote presentation that situated sound and music in the field of game studies. He expressed a great sense of urgency with regards to videogame music research. The research field has only just begun to emerge, with Karen Collins as a pioneer; and the symposium has demonstrated not only that there are many more research directions to explore, but also that Utrecht University would be an ideal location for a future platform of videogame music studies.

In closing, all symposium guests received a Limited Edition of C64 Orchestra, courtesy of Prof. Dr. Joost Raessens, and celebrated the completion of the first Videogame Music Symposium at Bar Walden with an exclusive performance by the famed Nintendo DS musician DS-10 Dominatör.

The 2011 Videogame Music Symposium: Play, Fans, Space met the objectives it set out to achieve and more, sparking due discussion about videogame sound, music and audio amongst key players in and around the field, and setting the stage for further development and study of videogame music.

Text by: Maria Koomen, as published on:

This article gives a brief overview of the Videogame Music Symposium: Play, Fans, Space, on September 13, 2011 in Utrecht, NL.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this exciting event!

Original announcement
VIDEOGAME MUSIC: PLAY, FANS, SPACE 13 September 2011 Utrecht University, NL Music is vital to videogaming. A game soundtrack draws players into the game space’s atmosphere with heroic melodies, exotic drums or spooky white noise; it enables them to identify characters and situations through leitmotifs; it warns them for imminent danger and helps them navigate through fights with 3D sound clues. Videogame music is also very popular outside the direct gaming context. Game soundtracks are commercially successful and are performed by full orchestras at game music concerts. Fannish engagement with videogame music has led to worldwide communities creating game music remixes, mash-ups and parodies. With internationally renowned speakers from the fields of game studies and game music research, game designers and students, this one-day symposium at Utrecht University seeks to outline an agenda for videogame music research. The symposium investigates music’s contribution to three important domains of videogaming: Play, Fans, and Space. In addition, a game music workshop will enable researchers, students, designers and gamers to join forces in the development and study of videogame music.

Keynote speakers Karen Collins (Waterloo University, Canada).

Mads Haahr (Dept Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin, Haunted Planet Studios) http://www.hauntedplanet.c​om/

Joost Raessens (Utrecht University, Center for the Study of Digital Games and Play (GAP)) http://www.gamesandplay.or​g/

Text by: Maria Koomen, as published on:

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