Category: Conferences

Ludo2023 Programme and Schedule

For more details and registration link, see the main conference page.

Day 1: Thursday, March 23rd

Welcome and Registration
9:30–11:00Session 1Performing for Virtual Worlds
On June 18th 2022, I attended pop diva Charli XCX’s performance on the popular Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) Roblox. Charli’s Roblox appearance has been one of multiple in-game concerts that have been presented in the game since 2020. Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Pinkpantheress, Zara Larsson, David Guetta among others have also explored the in-game concert experience. As a format, in-game concerts have been receiving more attention by the audience as well as the games and music industries since the Covid-19 pandemic halted the traditional live music circuit, forcing musicians and professionals to turn towards the digital in the hopes of finding ways to connect with their audiences during a time when physical proximity was not a possibility.
After in-person events returned, in-game concerts like Charli’s are still produced and experienced by players. This fact proves the point that in-game concerts were not just compensation for the lack of traditional live music, but a new format of entertainment targeted at the intersection of gamers and music fans. By applying game mechanics inside musical experiences, in-game concerts provide sonic fun while allowing a closer engagement between fans and idols, even if through avatars.
            For a pop diva, the embodied musical performance is one of the most important aspects of their spectacle (SOARES, 2020). What then happens when the embodied musical performance of a pop diva is translated to the gaming environment, through the now-digital performance of an avatar? The present paper will address possible answers to this question, by drawing on Performance Studies, Game Studies, Ludomusicology and writings on virtuality. It is interested in the digital performance of the pop diva on in-game concerts, drawing on Charli XCX’s Roblox event as an example.
Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition is a critically acclaimed board game published by Fantasy Flight
Games. This epic space opera features 24 factions trying to conquer the galaxy. Each faction offers not only a unique play style but also a brief description of the faction’s history and motivations for galaxy-wide domination. As is typical for this genre, and science fiction in more general, worldbuilding of this game balances between familiar and strange elements. Accordingly, the factions include a diverse set of species, for example, human-like aliens, enigmatic entities made of fire, life threatening viruses, and monsters from other dimensions. Also, a few factions include music in their descriptions.
In this presentation, I examine how the depictions of music is used to create strange and unfamiliar entities or, conversely, to render otherwise alien beings more akin to human subjects. By adopting Tim Summers’s (2013) Spectrum of Alterity, and further developing the notion into a multidimensional tool for analysis with the semiotic square, I categorize the functions of music. Furthermore, the results are discussed in the light of posthumanist ontology of music.
The Pathless tells the story of the Hunter, the player character, on a mission to purify the corrupted spirits of an island and stop the antagonist, the Godslayer, from destroying the world. The setting of the game relies heavily on the virtual environment and location of the player. Game composer Austin Wintory used music he recorded with the traditional Tuvan music group Alash Ensemble. In his approach to making the music for the game, he held a jam session with Alash Ensemble and later orchestrated around the music he recorded with them. In the game, there are four bosses—the corrupted spirits—before the final boss, each which Wintory has represented with a different instrument. This instrument is tied to the spirit’s domain, so as the player traverses the map the solo instrument playing the melody of the environmental music will change based on their location. As the player defeats each boss, that instrument and music in that domain is removed from the game leaving only sounds of nature. This removal can be inferred as associating the music with danger. Wintory has participated—as Theodore Levin has explored—in a history of the West exporting Tuvan music for Western media. This history has stereotyped Tuvans as barbaric, which can be interpreted in some applications of Wintory’s music. However, despite this complicated history, this paper argues Wintory seeks to maintain a connection to the natural and supernatural Tuvan music has by emulating this relationship in the virtual environment of The Pathless.
Chair: Michael Austin
11:30–12:30Session 2 – Non-Human Encounters
With this paper I am drawing a correlation between the use of sound in late nineties video game Duke Nukem 3D, the philosopher Michel Foucault’s discourse on discipline and punishment, and Gilbert Simondon’s notion of individuation. I am observing that sound in Duke Nukem acts as an operator of punishment, paraphrasing Foucault’s notion. Foucault’s discourse on the various technologies of power resonates with Duke Nukem’s implied formula of jurisdiction, restraint, and control. Sound which texturises the temporality of the game by punctuating, and very often anticipating, the presence of antagonist alien creatures: a constellation of different species emitting distinctive, and peculiar sounds. A virtual space that unfolds through a soundography (defined as mapping space through sound) of creatures to be met, fought and punished, for having invaded the planet Earth. Here a Simondonian principle of individuation is brought about because of the specificity of the sounds uttered by the aliens encountered: sound univocal and repetitive that define the extraterrestrial species, and its individuation, its alterity, by juxtaposition with the voice and sounds of Duke Nukem, the only human protagonist of this classic first-person shooting game.
Through an analysis of the sounds and the music utilised in the video game, I maintain that the sonic environment of Duke Nukem 3D is not simply cooperating with the visual design, and in the overall outcome of the gaming experience, but is manifestly establishing principles of authority, discipline and individuation of what is alien to us, different and therefore to be restrained, punished and/or rejected.
In my paper, I will focus on presenting research findings concerning non-human ludomusicological spaces in the analysis of In Other Waters, a minimalist narrative walking simulator game created in 2020 by the one-person studio Jump Over the Age run by Gareth Damian Martin. Retro mechanics and aesthetics of the game are combined with modern ideologies (or ways of thinking) and unconventional narrative strategies (Byrd 2020).
During gameplay, the player unfolds the plot through carefully crafted narration and learns about the consequences of the failed attempts to manipulate the planet’s ecosystem. This process can be cathartic and thought-provoking. Therefore, under the simple yet engaging gameplay, In Other Waters smuggles heavy discourse on vital questions of contemporary humanity. These problems, however, are not new. In fact, the author’s choice of retro 80’ entourage may carry additional sense.
Researching humanistic and spatial aspects of the game, I will focus on the connections between contemporary sensibilities present in the game and problems of 80’ new wave in terms of apocalypse predictions (Janssen and Whitelock 2009), searching for identity (Cvejić 2009), and extra-terrestrial lifeforms (McLeod 2003). I will also show the clash between the terraforming urge of humans (Bratton 2019) and the mesmerising beauty of The Other, especially in terms of the spatial features and aquaticity of music.
The game touches on, explores and problematises multiple topics, such as space exploration and exploitation; ecological catastrophe, terraforming and humans playing god; corporatism and financial primate; identities of humans, AI and aliens. My analytical methods will be interdisciplinary, with particular emphasis on existing musicological research of aliens and aquaticity by, among others, Stock (2021), Summers (2013) and Szulakowska-Kulawik (2008).
Chair: Raymond Sookram
13:30–15:00Session 3 – Interactions with Alterity
This paper stems from a key section of my PhD thesis, which explores the concept of the “neo-silent” aesthetic in gaming – in other words, the selective omission (or muting) of diegetic sound and dialogue, and the foregrounding of non-diegetic music, in a similar vein to modern silent cinema. The paper considers the sonic lineage which links the development of game sound to the practices, limitations, and perceived universalism of silent cinema, and the engagement with this lineage by contemporary developers, sound designers, and composers. It also considers the particularities of avoiding diegetic sound in a gaming context, and the varying degrees of muteness adopted by practitioners, including the near-total diegetic suppression of games like Undertale and Fez (with continuous underscoring and quasi-musical approximations of speech), the entirely wordless (and textless) soundscapes of Limbo and Journey, the non-verbal (and non-human) “speech” of Stray and Untitled Goose Game, and the silent protagonists of Half-Life and The Stanley Parable (whose muteness exists, often inexplicably, in an otherwise “realistic” diegetic environment).
Throughout the paper, I will draw on the existing (somewhat disparate) scholarly literature on game silence to examine the prevalence, impact, and modalities of diegetic absence and wordlessness in gaming. I will also link this selective, self-constraining impulse to wider academic debates around meaningful absence, creative limitation, media obsolescence, and nostalgia. Overall, the interdisciplinary themes raised in this paper draw attention to an often-overlooked aspect of game sound, tying together several strands of existing research and contemplating games as an evocative counterfactual to the vococentricity of other audiovisual media. The paper also links to the ‘beyond human’ themes of Ludo2023 by exploring the idea that wordlessness in gaming extends beyond typical conceptions of human speech and offers valuable insights into paralinguistic communication.
How do we advocate for those who cannot speak? Can we sonically create meaningful “conversations” between the player and non-human entities? What techniques can we employ to promote deep listening as a gameplay mechanic? What does a future without humans sound like? This talk examines an approach to these questions through recent projects, focusing specifically on the experimental game installation TIKATMOS.
TIKATMOS is a deeply speculative game that explores gaps in conversation, sustainability, the future of humanity, and what it means to help. In this interactive installation, it is the distant future. Humanity has wiped itself out, but every single entity on Earth has become sentient. You run the info booth at the only Mall on Spaceship ATMOS, the ark that has left earth carrying one of every single being as they search out another place to call home. The installation has the player sit down at a physical work-station complete with a life-size “window” into the mall, a boutique other-worldy computer station, and a microphone in which to speak to the customers. Players tune into these unique languages, helping customers find the information they are looking for. While many voice-controlled games place the player in a role of commanding authority, TIKATMOS positions the player as a helper, trying their best to communicate with these NPCs even amidst their lack of a common language. TIKATMOS won the Live Action Game at the 2022 IndieCade awards.
Through its narrative, Bloodborne (2015), in typically Lovecraftian fashion, thoroughly problematizes the “virtue of knowledge”; the otherworldly nightmare that has fallen upon Yharnam stems directly from the irresponsible application of eldritch knowledge by those who have been tempted by its power, and the noble figures who seek to rectify those mistakes inevitably succumb to the temptation of power as well. Bloodborne’s gameplay systems, by contrast, establish the protagonist as an incorruptible, infinitely persevering hero, with the “Insight” system explicitly quantifying and rewarding (never penalizing) their accumulation of eldritch knowledge. This paper attempts to situate Bloodborne’s score among these contradictory thematizations, ultimately constructing two analytic interpretations-one “allied” with the narrative’s thematization and another with the gameplay’s-which the player can hear simultaneously, thus reconciling the apparent dilemma.
I first consider the perceptual properties of Bloodborne’s score: I identify a musical topic of “innocence” and demonstrate how Bloodborne mutates and parodizes this topic in its soundtrack ( especially in “Lullaby for Mergo”) in order to show various narrative-musical parallels on the subject of innocence. I then examine the function of Bloodborne’s score in three important contexts: first, the “boss battle” context, where music sounds as an extension of a monster’s materiality (Kolassa 2020) and as a frame for a scene where the player’s knowledge is particularly rewarded; next, the “Insight” context, where sound acts simultaneously as a herald and a reward for the protagonist’s knowledge; finally, the “community” context, where sound acts as evidence in a collaborative effort to solve the
opaque mystery that is Bloodborne’s story.
Chair: Karina Moritzen
    15:30-16:30Session 4 – Embodiments
    Near the end of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, ostensibly a fantasy game, players enter the technological realm of Shambhala and are greeted with an intense dubstep track, a radical change from the primarily orchestral instrumentation throughout the rest of the game. It is populated with difficult, robotic enemies called Titanus, and Viskam, indestructible turrets that attack from out of range. Similarly, in Astral Chain, after defeating “Noah, Soul of Ambition,” underscored by epic orchestral music, players battle the incorporeal “Noah Core,” the game’s penultimate challenge, in a visually foreign, technological arena, accompanied by an electronic track. Other notable examples such as guardians from Breath of the
    Wild (Bradford, 2020) fit this category.
    These tracks accompany a technological foe and are preceded by music that is embodied (Cox, 2016) as “playable” in that players recognize them as stemming from human action. The music of Shambhala and Noah Core feel generated or synthesized; in a sense, less “human.” In addition to being a clear filmic trope, this paper expands Bradford’s (2020) ludic examination of the “antagonistic mode” of the “mechanistic topic.” Composers can discernibly change a game’s musical style to amplify a robotic encounter’s perceived difficulty through the use of relatively less human or more noise-like timbres (Wallmark, 2014). This encompasses a specific embodied form of musical mechanism I label the “abrupt mode”; it incorporates the ludic trope of suddenly-technological enemies being threatening encounters. I encourage discussion regarding topical, embodied musicality on the connection between difficulty and immersion in games.
    Videogame music engages players, summoning us into the magical, virtual world it soundscapes, encouraging us to adhere to the ludic parameters at play. In this paper, I outline a new gestural analytical framework better suited to the playful audiovisual individualities of videogame design in order to reveal how players might become immersed in games.
    I will present a new analytical theory, graphically mapping gestures so as to determine the ways in which videogame music can successfully engage players to feel part of the ludo-narrative journey through a concept I term the ‘gestural potential’ of music. This paper presents a remapped recontextulisation of musical gesture theories presented by Robert Hatten (2004; 2018) in combination with a further fusion of scholarship, synthesising concepts from film and media studies, dance pedagogy, art, research that have, so far, been marked by their limited contact. By exploring ideas of design (Isbister, 2017), culture (Kassabian, 2013), and analysis (Summers, 2016; Middleton, 1993), we can identify how best to examine videogame music to reveal how players engage with games.
    By analysing the intriguing, juxtapositional ludomusical content of the videogames Super Mario World (1990) and Super Metroid (1994) side by side, this paper reveals how musical gestures can immerse players in disparate game worlds, leading to a audiovisual phenomenon I term ‘ludomusical cocooning.’ In a rapidly altering world, in which primarily audiovisual technologies of virtual entertainment and escape are competing for our attention, this paper’s analysis of how that very attention can be grasped is a timely one.
    Chair: Milly Gunn
    19:00Escape room game at ‘Escape’, 26-28 Morrison Street, Edinburgh.

    Day 2: Friday, March 24th

    9:30–11:00Session 5Sounds of Fantasy
    The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda, 2011) remains a titan of video game history, regularly ranking in critics’ lists of the greatest games of all time. In a game full of enchanted swords and magical spells, any Skyrim player knows that the most powerful weapon in your character’s arsenal will be the ancient incantation of “Fus Roh Dah,” which sends enemies flying to their doom. In the lore of the Elder Scrolls, these abilities position the player character of Skyrim within the long history of mythological beast-heroes, mortals whose animal qualities lift them to superhuman status. This vocal power is rare in the wider genre of role-playing video games, giving Skyrim’s silent protagonist the ability to exercise said power as a diegetic voice, literally speaking the language of the dragons, a power central to both the protagonist’s identity as the Dovahkiin and hero of Tamriel and the ludic design of the game. Drawing on scholarship in both voice studies and ludomusicology, including Yvonne Stingel-Voigt’s work on the multiple functions of the voice in video games and Federica Buongiorno and Helena De Preester’s discussions of re-embodiment in the digital space, I argue that the Dragonborn acts through the use of these vocalic-ludic commands not only as an anchor between the worlds of animal and man and mortal and divine, but also as a third link, one between the physical and virtual worlds, through the game’s re-voicing of its silent protagonist.
    Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia and the nine circles of hell, in which the damned are eternally doomed to hellish torments, have influenced generations of artists for centuries. Whether in visual arts, music or contemporary pop culture, the list of works in which the Divina Commedia has been processed or reinterpreted is long and constantly growing. It is therefore not surprising that quotes and references to Dante’s poetry can also be found repeatedly throughout the history of video games, when hell, demons or Satan himself are part of the game. One of the most famous and controversial adaptations in video games is Dante’s Inferno (2010).
    Compared to other video games, in which hell is represented by a soundtrack based on heavy metal, rock or EDM, audio director Paul Gorman wanted “… a score that leans more towards 20th century academic music than a Hollywood film score” for Dante’s Inferno (Mitchell 2014, p. 21). Compositions by Krzysztof Penderecki and György Ligeti were used for the temp-tracks, and compared to Deadspace, Gorman wanted a different form of aleatoric and melodic treatment. Together with the composer Garry Schyman, who already worked with avant-garde techniques in his compositions for Bioshock, the idea of a musical duality was born. While the choir represents the “sacred ethereality” and the “after-worldliness”, the orchestra and percussion supply the action and chaos.
    But what does hell sound like in Dante’s Inferno? Based on selected compositions such as “Dies Irae”, “Donasdogama Micma”, “Beatrice Taken”, “Babalon Ors” and the original scores provided by Garry Schyman, the paper aims to explore this question and show which techniques the composer used to translate the descent to hell into music. In what way does he adapt the anguished cries of the damned in his compositions? How does he stage the fight against Satan in his music? And finally, what information and interpretative possibilities can be derived from original scores and musical analysis in the research on video game music?
    There are a great number of film-to-video game adaptations, ranging from the monumentally catastrophic ET (1982) to expansive, beautifully crafted open world games depicting the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings universes. It is the latter of these that this paper will focus on. Both Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, in book and film format, are rich, diverse fictional universes, where the inclusion of the non-human is essential for narrative purpose. As is often the case in any narrative, the non-human is often associated with danger, threat, unease, or at the very least, ‘the other’. However, whilst these will be mentioned for reasons of brief context, it is the non-human allies that provide arguably the most fruitful analytical discussion.
    Musical exoticism and cultural appropriation are two ongoing sources of controversy in film scoring, with retrospective and contemporary film scores being subjected to higher levels of scrutiny than in the past. Video games are not immune to such discussions, and the case study in this paper – Lord of the Rings Online (2005 – present) – has many instances where ‘real world’ musical styles have been ‘othered’ for non-human species and locales in Tolkien’s fictional fantasy world.
    We will question (for example) the appropriateness and effectiveness of composer Chance Thomas depicting the Elves of Rivendell and Lothlorien with ethereal ‘far eastern’, Asian-inspired harmonies, whilst the humans of Rohan receive a strait-laced Western, Nordic-imbued underscore (all of which was inspired by Howard Shore’s film scores of 2001-03). We will conclude by asking: is this the only way, or can gamer understanding of the non-human through music lose the culturally-loaded, ‘exotic’ baggage?
    Chair: Dean Chalmers
    11:30-12:00Session 5.5
    On June 18th 2022, I attended pop diva Charli XCX’s performance on the popular Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) Roblox. Charli’s Roblox appearance has been one of multiple in-game concerts that have been presented in the game since 2020. Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Pinkpantheress, Zara Larsson, David Guetta among others have also explored the in-game concert experience. As a format, in-game concerts have been receiving more attention by the audience as well as the games and music industries since the Covid-19 pandemic halted the traditional live music circuit, forcing musicians and professionals to turn towards the digital in the hopes of finding ways to connect with their audiences during a time when physical proximity was not a possibility.
    After in-person events returned, in-game concerts like Charli’s are still produced and experienced by players. This fact proves the point that in-game concerts were not just compensation for the lack of traditional live music, but a new format of entertainment targeted at the intersection of gamers and music fans. By applying game mechanics inside musical experiences, in-game concerts provide sonic fun while allowing a closer engagement between fans and idols, even if through avatars.
                For a pop diva, the embodied musical performance is one of the most important aspects of their spectacle (SOARES, 2020). What then happens when the embodied musical performance of a pop diva is translated to the gaming environment, through the now-digital performance of an avatar? The present paper will address possible answers to this question, by drawing on Performance Studies, Game Studies, Ludomusicology and writings on virtuality. It is interested in the digital performance of the pop diva on in-game concerts, drawing on Charli XCX’s Roblox event as an example.
    12:00-12:30Community Engagement Discussion
    13:30–15:00Session 6 Rise of the Robots?
    In 1976, the term ‘fembot’ first appeared in the science-fiction vernacular within the film The Bionic Woman (1972) and was further popularised by the adventures of Austin Powers (1997) as a term describing feminine presenting robots or mechanical beings. 47 years later, research and discourse surrounding fembots
    and feminine AI within our pockets and everyday life is increasingly common (Ivy, 2012., Sutton, 2020). Virtual assistants such as Siri, Cortana (whose namesake is an AI from the Halo franchise), and Alexa, alongside voices for our SatNavs devices, and even the self-checkouts at local supermarkets are vocalised by disembodied female voices. These help us navigate everyday life, and provide advice and support, reproducing ‘stereotypical representations of gendered labour’ (Natale, 2020). Fembots, or ‘Gynoids’ (Asimov, 1979) have maintained their popularity as character tropes within the genre of sci-fi games for decades, although little research has been done to cross-examine relationships between the fembots in our everyday life, and those we encounter in our gaming lifes.
    This paper will highlight how the female voice is used in games to sonically portray either subservience or the murderous and sinister, yet often seductive, voice of a mechanical she-devil. This paper draws from research on speech within games, gender studies, and user interface design, alongside case studies from the franchises and games of Halo (343 Industries, 2001), Portal (Valve, 2007), System Shock (Nightdive Studios, 1984), Mass Effect (EA, 2007), and NUDE – Natural Ultimate Digital Experiment (Red Entertainment, 2003). From this methodology, a framework will be developed outlining the uses of vocal synthesis as a means to dehumanise the feminine voice and accompany descents into machinic madness from once subservient AI gynoids which players are often familiar with from everyday life.
    System Shock 2 remains one of the most lauded and influential video games of all time. While its genre is generally characterised as horror and action role-play, I suggest that this is an insufficient description. Rather the game is a tension between horror and ecstacy, agency and helplessness; these paradoxes are exemplified by the audio design of character dialogue. Our entanglement with the game operates in two directions: our “limit-experience” of the game world, as characterised by the multitudinous, medusoid sound of The Many and the cyborg connectivity of SHODAN’s emotionless affect; and our “limit-experience” as the player, our agency in building our character and our ability to give voice to these entities through our interaction with the UI. Yet the protagonist remains silent, and even as we project into the game world we are faced with certain expressive impossibilities. By contrasting the voicefullness of the non-player characters and voicelessness of the player character I identify the true “horror” of the game as lying in a tension between a desire to join the chorus of The Many and the fact that we cannot chose to do so. If The Many is comprised of multiple voices, then is our silence another expression of these voices or their antithesis? If The Many is a distinct, Gestalt voice, then is our external silence is more closely related to SHODAN’s simultaneous cyborg interconnectedness and singular god-like megalomania? Does the audio design include our silence, or is the player outside of the game’s sound?
    In August 2022, Gameloft and FreshPlanet issued a press release announcing that their music quiz game SongPop was now available for Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. SongPop was initially released as a social game for smartphones and Facebook in 2012 and shares mechanics with “Name That Tune,” a radio and television programme from the 1950s. By 2015, the game had been downloaded 100 million times and continues to maintain its popularity via newer iterations and a growing number of playlists and platforms on which the game can be played.
     Because a variety of “smart home” devices are Alexa-enabled, as are many headphones, speakers, watches, phones, speakers, and even cars, the press release boasts that “this means players are never far from some music trivia!” While this may be a selling point to some, it is disconcerting to others. Aside from long-standing concerns about privacy and corporate surveillance of users of virtual assistants (such as Alexa and Siri), SongPop itself has faced recent criticism related to the possible use of AI opponents (or bots) that encourage players to make in-game purchases in order to increase their chances of winning. In addition to addressing these issues, this paper will also discuss how this voice-forward game also raises additional issues related to accessibility as players negotiate the positive and negative aspects of this gamified sonic technology.
    Chair: Ben Major
    15:30–16:30Session 7 – Displaced and Recontextualized Voices
    By studying anime voice actors/actresses (“seiyuu” in Japanese) as a Japanese cultural export since the 1990s to the present day, I discuss the negotiation of transnational and national desires of a Cool Japaneseness through a “transmedia listening” of “monstrous seiyuu.”
    A response towards the “Lost Decades” of Japanese economic stagnation (1990s-present) was the policy of “Cool Japan” which aimed to restore national pride among Japanese citizens and promote it to a global audience. This policy led to the seiyuu’s “maturation period” (Yamasaki 2014) which featured the commodification of the seiyuu’s body along with their corresponding anime characters. Listening to seiyuu, therefore, includes the multimedia consumption of voice, body, and affect, which I call “transmedia listening,” a term derived from “transmedia storytelling” (Jenkins 2006). The international scale of “Cool Japan” creates this transmedia encounter of an imagined Other, culturally constructed through imaginal bodies.
    Through virtual ethnography on Chinese and English-speaking fan communities, I show
    how seiyuu are imagined as superior voice actors/actresses with voice-acting skills that break bodily limitations. Fans attribute these factors to a perceived Japaneseness, and are the basis of why fans often describe seiyuu as monsters. This perception constructs seiyuu as culturally “authentic,” emphasizing their affective and diverse vocal ability compared to voice actors of other countries. I argue that the myth of seiyuu’s Japaneseness positions them as essential to transmedia listening, as seiyuu are considered the only ones qualified for connecting their own bodies to anime characters through voice.
    In Remedy Entertainment’s Control (2019), the player joins the protagonist Jesse Faden as she is faced with a corrupting and malevolent enemy: the Hiss. As a form of parasite, this entity spreads by invading human hosts and seizing control of their bodies from within. Strikingly, victims possessed by the Hiss can be recognized thanks to a poem, which all hosts recite, with their distorted voices composing a haunting litany for the player to listen to.
    This proposal is a case study of Control’s Hiss, understood here as a vocal apparatus central to the game’s sound design. We will demonstrate how this antagonist and its behaviour inside Control’s acoustic ecology set up a rhetoric of bodies, in which the litany is both a signifier of potential danger and narrative elements, and a catalyst for player immersion. We will mainly analyse two game sequences, first a cutscene of Jesse’s first encounter with the Hiss, then a documented series of interactions with possessed victims.
    To study these sequences, we will focus on vocality (Bossis, 2005) as a critical component of Control’s rhetoric of bodies. This will allow us to use inputs from voice studies, and especially from Steven Connor’s cultural history of ventriloquism (2000). Listening to the Hiss as a ventriloquist without a body, but a multiplicity of dummies, we will demonstrate how the vocal aesthetics of Control relies on poetics of possession (Connor, 2000; Dolar, 2006) to subvert the usual processes through which video game characters are granted voices and interact with players with these voices.
    Chair: Jennifer Smith
      19:00 Evening: Mortal Kocktail, Edinburgh EH1

      Day 3: Saturday, March 25th

      9:30–11:00Session 8Prickly Questions of Sonic Experiences
      This paper explores two different versions of Sega’s flagship Sonic the Hedgehog platform game. Both versions were official Sega releases, both were released in 1991, both were distributed on cartridge and designed to run on the Sega Mega Drive console platform and both versions of the game cartridge contain exactly the same code. Both titles were advertised and marketed on the basis of the almost unbelievable speed of their gameplay. ‘Once you’ve played Sonic the Hedgehog, everything else seems a bit… slow’ ran Sega’s UK TV campaign. Yet, for all these similarities, one version of this flagship game ran 17.5% slower than the other.
      And, to be clear, this was not simply a change in the speed of the gameplay. It was not merely that Sonic ran slower, everything in the game ran slower, including the music. The same score, the same melodies, harmonies and drum patterns, were all performed on the same instruments, but with a nearly 20% difference in tempo. The surprising truth is that Sonic the Hedgehog ran faster in Japan than in Europe. As such, depending on where you were in the world, Sonic looked, played and, most noticeably, sounded different even though the same program was being executed. And, it was not just Sonic the Hedgehog. Throughout the 1990s and beyond, games as varied as Super Mario 64 and Tekken all exhibited dramatic variations in performance and playback speed.
      By exploring the inseparability of home videogame console platforms, domestic audiovisual display technologies, and international variations in television display standards and formats, this paper analyses the reasons for the existence of these multiple instances of ‘the same game’ (Giordano 2011) and, following Swalwell et al (2017) asks what might constitute the ‘original’ game in such circumstances? To complicate matters further, the paper notes that, like many other publishers who have mined their back catalogues, Sega’s subsequent re-releases of Sonic the Hedgehog have left the European and Japanese versions unequally available to players in 2023. Through these commercial processes that effectively canonise one version of the game, not only are complex, local histories erased (see Wade and Webber 2016), but also the experiences of millions of players are selectively forgotten.
      It is known that people develop attachments to certain pieces of music with which they have had meaningful experiences. As many of today’s adults have grown up in a culture of playing digital games, games can arguably be accounted for as a viable musical resource to engage with both within and outside gameplay, and to which people may develop music-based attachments they cherish in their lives. By focusing on fond memories of game music, Game Music Everyday Memories (GAMEM) project investigates how game music meaningfully embed into experiential, psychological and sociocultural processes of people’s lives. The present study provides an overlook of the four branches of exploratory research conducted in the project. In particular, the focus here is in discovering the potential of each type of research as a different approach for gaining an understanding on the more general phenomenon of game music attachment. In our proposed account, attachment to a particular game music is outlined (1) as an amount of emotional involvement in reminiscing related to the game music, (2) as cognitive-linguistic structures, incorporating the music and the self, being disclosed in the verbal reminiscing, (3) as personal motives (i.e., psychological functions) for coming back to the music, and (4) as varieties of situated gameplay experiences aesthetically entangled with the personally valued game music. Our hypothesis is that these four dimensions provide complementary views for utilizing interdisciplinary research in the future studies on the personal meaningfulness of game music.
      Attending a concert in Animal Crossing: New Horizons to get a commemorative recording, picking up cassettes in Metal Gear, unlocking and purchasing songs in Hades, or finding all the hidden jukeboxes in Final Fantasy VII Remake are only some examples of how music can become a collectable and a reward in video games. From a game studies perspective, rewards have been defined as “a positive return that serves to reinforce player behavior within a videogame” (Philips et al., 2013). Thus, the pursuit of completing a collection is one of the accustomed creator’s strategies to achieve the player’s commitment to the game. Reward is a concept that consistently appears in academic articles, but –mainly due to its complexity and varied typologies– only a few scholars have attempted to create a general taxonomy for reward types in which music and sensorial elements are taken into consideration (Philips et al., 2013 and 2015; Hallford & Hallford (2001). Ludomusicology, on the other hand, has tended to consider music as a reward by itself (Summers 2016: 58; Kamp, 2010, 138) or as a direct recompense for following a specific action (Wood 2009, 133; Summers 2016: 166, 193). In order to bring together these two seemingly unconnected perspectives, in this communication I will apply the existent reward systems taxonomies to collectable music objects proving its restricted applicability, mainly due to the double slope of the analyzed element: a collectable object in the game and an intangible product that fulfils functions of aesthetic enjoyment (Merriam 1964,223).
      Chair: James Ellis
      11:30-12:30Keynote: Yann van der Cruyssen, Music Music Composer and Sound Designer for games including Stray (2022), Game of Thrones (2012) and Test Drive Unlimited 2 (2011).
      13:30–15:00Session 9 – Expressive Technological Timbres
      Since the IBM 7094 surprised its audience in 1961 with the first computerized singing voice, many engineers started searching for technologies to (re)produce human speech with electronic aids. Because of the enormous cost and effort for digitizing sounds back in the day an alternative had to be found. For this, the insights of phonetics and techno-historical experiments with voders and vocoders were combined. From the midst of the 1970s hardware and software solutions for computerized speech output came to market – a market that had just been conquered by microprocessors and home computers which then got their own voice.
      Our talk will recapitulate this genealogy of digital-synthetic voice generation and its epistemological sources to show a specific application – first in hardware (arcades and pinball machines) then in software (home-computer games) based games. The essential technologies (formant synthesis, pulse-width modulation and low-resolution sampling) will be explained and performed by the apparatuses and programs of that time.
      Questions about how those games benefit from speech synthesis aesthetically and how the somewhat creepy synthetic voices from QBert, S.A.M., and low-res sampling became more common through their application within games will be discussed. To argue this we will show how specific speech sounds enrich the game soundscapes and thus the gaming experience. With the help of brought-in hardware and software speech synthesizers (Votrax SC-01, 1-Bit-Voice-Sampling, S.A.M.) this will be exemplified audibly. For this, the technologies shall enter the stage and explain themselves as co-speakers in a lecture performance.
      Through decades of (sub)cultural appropriation, chiptune has come a long way from vitalising the pixelated geometries of in-game worlds. Yet the hypermediacies of its micro-audio technologies remain the consistent distinctiveness of its ludomusicality (cf. Bolter and Grusin 2000, pp. 31-44; Hodkinson 2002, pp. 30-31). Chip-musicians unabashedly foreground anachronistic digital aesthetics; timbres are unmistakably synthetic, and obsolescence is celebrated beyond commercial abandonment. Consequently, questions regarding nostalgia’s role in chiptune’s longevity are common, often dramatically dividing opinion: phenomenologically, nostalgia is either relegated to gamers and demoscene veterans of a certain age or dismissed entirely as bearing no influence on chiptune’s progression as a scene (see Yabsley 2007, pp. 13, 27; Scheraga 2007; Carlsson 2010, p. 11, 42-50; McAlpine 2018, pp. 256-7).
      Overlooked in this discourse are younger participants who didn’t live through late 20th century video game and demoscene culture, yet nostalgia is cited as integral to their love of chiptune. Far from nostalgia’s typically ascribed bittersweet pessimism, some have paradoxically highlighted the liminality and uncanniness of nostalgia itself as a means of identification and belonging – playing within the hazy interstices of cultural memory, time, and place. Why is this phenomenon occurring for these demographics? How do such experiences of nostalgia become an affirmative form of identification, and how do chip-musical agencies engender these responses? Through interdisciplinary critical theory and autoethnographic reflections on chiptune and queer (listening) subjectivity, my paper sheds light on these questions by exploring the non/human encounters of chip-musicking (cf. Small 1998, pp. 1-8). In doing so, it will not only illuminate the much overlooked ‘drastic’ of chip-musical performativity (cf. Abbate 2004, pp. 505-36; cf. Van Elferen 2020, pp. 103-5), but also show how nostalgia for fictional times and places becomes an affirmative source of ludomusical self-expression.
      For as long as video games have been presenting characters, game designers have been faced with the question of how to give those characters a voice. Voice acting a full game is a resource-intensive undertaking, both technologically (especially in early games) and financially — the matter of fair pay for video game voice actors is an issue that is still of great concern for the industry (Plant 2022). Another aspect to this is that, to communicate the right kind of connection the players should have with characters, full voice acting might not be the best option available. Simlish is an example where the developers at Maxis deliberately chose to have their hapless characters speak in gibberish to make them seem relatable, but not attached to any one locality (although their success is debatable) (Lam 2018; Stoeber 2020; Adams 2011).
      One way in which this dilemma has been tackled by designers is to indicate speech using synthesized “beeps”, synchronized with text appearing onscreen. By combining the visual and audio cue, the impression of spoken dialogue is created, with the audio cues of the beeps semiotically and, critically, non-verbally, indicating that speech is occurring, while the accompanying text-box provides the verbal content of that speech. This approach can be seen in games including Earthbound (Ape & HAL Laboratory 1995), Undertale (Fox 2015)/Deltarune (Fox 2018), the Ace Attorney (Capcom 2001-2021) series, and Animal Crossing series (Nintendo 2001-2020), and others. This has been described by Stoeber as “Beep Speech” (2020). In this paper, we will explore the many ways in which beep speech manifests and has been developed upon, and the ways in which game designers have implemented it to convey the emotion and personality of their characters, as well as mediate the relationship between player and characters.
      Chair: Lidia López Gómez
      15:30–16:30Session 10 – Perceiving Worlds
      Games disrupt our sense of being in the world, allowing players to become, play as, and communicate as things, characters, and nonhuman actors. By playing as the nonhuman animal in ecologically tenuous situations, play is paired with precarity. In Shelter (2013), for instance, you play as a mother badger in a constant state of risk, guiding her five cubs as they search for food and shelter while protecting them from immediate harm inflicted by floods, forest fires, and other such natural disasters. For example, the cubs are occasionally startled by unfamiliar noises, running away from the player/mother outside their radius of safety. As their mother you must listen for and anticipate these noises while also chasing after the cubs, gathering them together to protect them from potential danger. Shelter’s posthumanist sensory elements call into question the human desire to connect with, play as, sense through, and even control the nonhuman animal across digital spaces. And like Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg’s video installation The Substitute (2019), these digital objects interrogate humanity’s “preoccupation with creating new life forms, while neglecting existing ones” (Ginsberg 2019). Operating at the intersection of multispecies ethnography, digital culture, and interface studies this presentation offers a posthumanist reading of multispecies sonic cultural phenomena in digital games. I argue that in-game multispecies listening, sounding, and playing along “as” and “with” the nonhuman avatar articulates the complexity of human-animal relationships, displaces the boundaries between human and other, and articulates ways of listening beyond the human to actual and virtual sensory ecologies.
      This paper explores the ontological horror of virtual rats, and the relationship of European epidemiological, historical and animal imaginaries in game soundscapes of the Black Death. Contributing to Green Game Studies recent turns to ecocriticism (Abraham 2018; Chang, 2019; Redder, B. D. & Schott, G. 2022) and early music studies (Cook et al., 2018, Cook, 2019; Meyer & Yri, 2020), I take A Plague Tale: Innocence (2019) and A Plague Tale: Requiem (2022) as case studies to put pressure on director Choteau’s assertion that: “If we have no rats, we have no game” (2022: n.p.). Rendering thousands of rats audio-visual-haptically (Keogh, 2018) through tense cello sautille and the feedback of repeating sampled screeches, the rodents embody plague as a ‘fluid’. This homogenization of rats reinforces the medium’s problematic tendency to enumerate rather than individuate animals in games (Tyler, 2022: 29-40), as well as contemporary and modern elisions of species as ‘rodents’ (McCormick, 2003) and ‘vermin’ (Holmberg, 2014).
      If the medieval often signifies the abject in relation to modernity, from which game music promises safe distance/‘authenticity’ (Cook et al., 2018), here the alternately messy/clean audio mix instead blends traces of folk and noisy feedback to conjure abject ‘vermin’ that both constitute and trouble relations (Cole, 2016). I connect Serres’ work on the parasitic interdependence of signal and noise (2007), Connor’s thesis that animals mediate medieval and modern phenomenology (2006: 6) and theories of atmospherics (Bohme, 2017; Griffero, 2017) to explore how writhing swarms of rats play with the senses. I argue that their tense and disorienting affects demonstrate the power of game atmospheres to enact affective forms of Chang’s mesocosm—experimental spaces between lab and nature (2019)—which here horrifyingly confront us with both our inability to either hear the animal or escape it.
      Chair: Liam Clark

        Ludo2023 Call for Papers

        The Ludomusicology Research Group is pleased to announce the Ludo2023 Twelfth European Conference on Video Game Music and Sound, to be held at the University of Edinburgh, 23-25 March next year. The organizers of Ludo2023 are now accepting proposals for research presentations.

        We welcome proposals on all aspects of sound and music in games.

        This year, we are particularly interested in papers that support the conference theme of ‘Sound and Music Beyond the Human’. Papers on this topic may include:
        ➢ Monstrosity, horror and the gothic
        ➢ Cyborgs and the machinic
        ➢ Transhumanism and posthumanism
        ➢ Non-human speech and voices
        ➢ Aliens and alterity
        ➢ Artificial intelligences and non-human agencies
        ➢ Dehumanising sounds
        ➢ Fantastic creatures and cosmic horror
        ➢ Uncanny voices and synthetic sounds
        ➢ Supernatural sound and music
        ➢ Creatures, fantastic and otherwise

        Presentations should last twenty minutes and will be followed by questions. Please submit your paper proposal (c.250 words) with a short provisional list of literature by email to by January 6th, 2023. We aim to communicate the programme decisions by January 20th, 2023. If you require more information, please email the organizers.

        We encourage practitioners and composers to submit proposals for showcasing practice as research. The conference will be held in person, but with remote access options available. | #ludo2023
        Hosted by James Cook, Reid School of Music, Edinburgh College of Art.
        Organized by Melanie Fritsch, Andra Ivănescu, Michiel Kamp & Tim Summers.

        Ludo22 Programme Announced

        The Ludomusicology Research Group is pleased to announce the Ludo2022 Eleventh European Conference on Video Game Music and Sound, to be held in person at Royal Holloway, University of London, with remote access options available.

        For information on the conference, see our conference information page here.

        The programme schedule and abstracts are available here!

        We look forward to you joining us in person and remotely in April!

        Ludo22 Programme and Schedule

        To register, visit our Eventbrite page for in-person tickets and free remote access registration.

        Please note: All times in the schedule are London time

        Day 1: 21st April

        10:00–11:30Session 1Instruments and Cultures
        The Legend of Zelda series (Nintendo, 1986-2017) is a frequent subject for Ludomusicology, not only because of its rich musical legacy and its canonical position among the history of videogames, but particularly because of its seamless and groundbreaking use of music as a ludic element. Indeed, ever since the franchise’s beginnings, music has been granted a prominent role in the Zelda universe. Such role has been maintained and improved across subsequent releases, and therefore consolidated as an essential element to the so-called “Zelda formula”.
        Music is so deeply interwoven into the series’ core that scholars such as Medina Gray (2014), Lind (2016), and Summers (2021), have often written about the different functions of music and means of music-making in Ocarina of Time (Nintendo, 1998) or Skyward Sword (Nintendo, 2011), but little attention has been paid to the role of musical instruments within the franchise’s soundtrack and lore. Musical instruments in The Legend of Zelda often appear as powerful objects imbued with magical abilities, able to alter the physical and spiritual state of people and beasts alike, transform night into day, and even control the flow of time.
        Thus, this paper aims to examine the complex negotiations between realism and fantasy underlying the various representations and functions of musical instruments in the Zelda series, focusing on those depicted in Link’s Awakening (Nintendo, 1993). Drawing from Organology and Musical Iconography, a cataloguing card model inspired by the proposal of the Royal College of Music from London has been applied, serving as a methodological basis for studying how musical instruments are reconfigured in the Zelda series, supporting its narrative, and shaping its mythology.
        China’s contemporary game industry presents a “blowout” type of development, its game production has gradually been established an unique game style – Xianxia games(仙侠游戏), such as XuanYuan Sword 3(《轩辕剑3》,PC), Chinese Paladin 3(《仙剑奇侠传3》,PC) and GloryofKings(《王者荣耀》,Mobile game).Xianxia game is based on Chinese Xianxia novels, the term of ‘Xianxia’ focuses on magic martial arts moves rather than the realistic cold weapons. The music composition of Chinese Xianxia games usually learn from the music style of Chinese martial arts movies or TV series, by using the combination of the colorful Chinese folk musical instruments, Western orchestral music and electronic music as the support, to highlight the “JiangHu(江湖)”scene. The original meaning of “JiangHu” refers to vast rivers and lakes, which later derived the meaning of “the world” and has nothing to do with rivers and lakes, but metaphorically refers to an alluvial underworld of hucksters and heroes beyond the reach of the imperial government. The soundtrack of Xianxia games expresses an open-minded view on life and worldview through Chinese traditional musical instruments, implies broad Chinese traditional cultural thoughts, and uses the unique timbre and techniques of Chinese national musical instruments to cooperate with the game content to show the artistic conception in Chinese ancient aesthetic thoughts. Based on case studies of recent Xianxia games, this paper explores how the application of Chinese traditional musical instruments in different scenes of Xianxia games and the embodiment of different techniques of Chinese traditional musical instruments in different musical emotions, to make the unique “Jianghu”scene.
        In the last couple of years, southeast Asian cultures started permeating the global popular culture through different medias, including video games. One specific aspect, the Java-Balinese gamelan music, on the other hand, has been present since at least the early 1990s, in turn leading a generation of international gamers into their first exposition to this musical culture. Despite this, there exists only a handful of ludomusicologcal articles covering this theme.
        This paper aims to provide a short introduction and discussion into how Java-Balinese gamelan as an ensemble (or parts of it as an instrument) and as a musical culture in video games and consists of three main parts. The first part is a discussion into the early uses of gamelan between 1990 and 2010 through five games with musical pieces using gamelan instruments or pieces inspired by its musical style. The second part includes a very short and condensed explanation of gamelan, mainly its spread into the US and Japan, its aesthetical understanding and its development in the late 20th and early 21st century. The last part focuses on three games with differing usages of gamelan music and discussion points. In Hotline Miami 2, gamelan was equated with an idyllic-tropical-exotic setting, whilst Civilization V and VI frames gamelan as a national culture whilst interpreting its original pieces under western musical perspectives. The last example Kena: Bridge of Spirits exemplifies a change of paradigm in which game composers and balinese gamelan groups worked together on composing the game’s music.
        Chair: Andra Ivănescu
        12:00–13:30Session 2 – Technologies of Potential
        The relationship between chess and music has been a topic of discussion for many centuries. It culminates in personalities that show deep (cultural) knowledge or highly rated performances in both domains (André Danican Philidor, Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, Sergey Prokofev, Arnold Schoenberg among many others) or rhetoric stylizations of players (e.g. Magnus Carlsen as the “Mozart of Chess”). In how far the two domains are separated or share the same faculties and cognitive resources is an ongoing discussion until today (Burgoyne et al. 2019).
        This study focuses on
        a) the transformational processes chess has run through during the last years under high adjustment pressure of pandemic measures restricting mobility like lockdowns. While the most used online platforms for playing chess were launched 5-15 years before the appearance of Covid-19, the political measures fghting the pandemic worked as a catalysator for a process that started with the appearance of the frst chess programs and computers in the 1950s: the so-called ‘digitalization’ of chess. During this process, the game recently experienced different waves of popularization by e.g. the Netfix series “The Queen’s Gambit” from 2020, but also new possibilities by the advance of digital infrastructure affording (i) a signifcantly denser media coverage of chess events, (ii) more intimate insights into professional players lives via social media and streaming platforms, (iii) new online versions of chess like (hyper-)bullet games, banter-blitz, hand and brain or kung fu chess (real-time chess).
        b) the implementation of music and sound in professional tournaments (online and on-site events) that took place during this transformation, where music played over headphones has been used to isolate players from their surrounding environment (a practice known e.g. from Chess Boxing).
        c) music as a ‘technology of the self’ (DeNora 2000, Foucault 1988) in professional as well as amateur (everyday) practices of playing chess.
        The study is based on
        d) qualitative analysis of (i) scientifc literature in the feld of ‘chess and music’ as well as on psychological coping mechanisms under contemporary pandemic pressure, (ii) news paper and magazine articles, blogs, online forums and streams covering chess events or contemporary developments in chess practices.
        e) qualitative and quantitative analysis of a survey conducted online on the platforms of, and between February 15 and March 15 2022.
        On March 1st, 2020, the 8-Bit Big Band performed at a sold-out concert in Boston’s Berklee Performance Center. The evening’s program, however, did not include the work of Duke Ellington or Count Basie. The performance involved a different kind of classic: video game music. In the recent decade, contemporary jazz musicians are expanding the art form’s canonical possibilities. Artists including the 8-Bit Big Band, insaneintherainmusic, and The Consouls are introducing video game music to the creative arena of jazz performance as a means for extemporization, reinterpretation, and expression.
        The intersection of game sound and jazz performance invites new questions: What games do these artists source? How does engaging with video game music influence the relationship between jazz musicians and their audiences? Furthermore, what new perspectives on the improvisatory nature of video game music manifest from examining the ontology of jazz standards? I argue that the output of the aforementioned artists illuminates how play in jazz performance and gameplay affords a uniquely embodied sonic experience of improvisation, interaction, and expression.
        This cross-disciplinary research draws on a wide range of rich perspectives in jazz studies and ludomusicology. Notably, work by Roger Moseley, Ted Gioia, Ingrid Monson, Karen Cook, Isabella van Elferen, and Andrew Kania. Jazz music remains largely absent from ludomusicological discourse. The growing number of contemporary jazz musicians who amalgamate improvisation with video game music beckons the growing need for such an inquiry into the emerging Great Video Game Songbook.
        ‘Small, cute and desirable’ and ‘designed purely to play games’ (Nintendo n.d.), the GameCube (codenamed Dolphin) is often described as being toy-like or even having a ‘Fisher-Price’ aesthetic (Kelly 2021; Robinson 2021). While this can be attributed, in part, to the industrial design of the device with its bright colours and carrying handle, this paper highlights the role of sound in defining the playful character of Nintendo’s console. However, rather than concentrating on in-game music or sound effects as is typical in platform studies (e.g. Montfort and Bogost 2009; Altice 2015), here we focus on the sounds that accompany the GameCube’s boot or startup sequence. The rationale for this is threefold:

        First, and most broadly, while platform studies reminds us that the sounds of particular games can be said to be enabled, afforded or shaped by the hardware and software constituents that comprise a platform, surely there can be no more readily identifiable sonic fingerprint of a platform than the startup sequence that plays each and every time the device is powered up – regardless of the game subsequently played. Indeed, regardless of whether a game is subsequently played. While we might easily overlook these startup chimes as mere filler to cover the booting, testing and tuning-up of the system’s components, these melodies and effects play an essential role in performing the overarching identity of a platform.

        Second, with regard to the GameCube specifically, I argue that it is the startup sounds, more than the visuals that accompany the system’s boot-up, that serve to communicate the accessible, toy-like aesthetic and qualities of the platform. This is achieved partly through composition and sound design, but also through the transformation of the startup sequence into a ludic space in which ‘hidden’ sonic variations may be revealed through the manipulation of the GameCube’s controllers. In this way, the platform becomes playful, if not playable, from the moment it is switched on.

        Third, we turn our attentions to a rather better-hidden, and altogether more downtempo, audio Easter Egg. As we play with the apparently innocuous ambience that underscores the GameCube’s system settings menu, an unexpected connection is made to Nintendo’s short-lived Famicom Disk System peripheral (1986) and its own startup theme. This paper reflects on what this tells us about Nintendo’s reverence for its heritage, the location of the GameCube within a corporate/technological/gameplay continuum, and perhaps even an attempt to recuperate past missteps.

        The paper concludes by considering the ‘afterlife’ (Guins 2014) of the GameCube startup sequence and the ways in which players/hackers have further transformed it into a site for audiovisual experimentation. By manipulating and deliberately corrupting the system’s BIOS in order to create kaleidoscopic arrangements of glitches, yet more ludic possibilities are created as the elements comprising the identity of the platform are rendered malleable and reconfigurable through creative exploration and play.
        Chair: Raymond Sookram
        14:30–15:30Keynote Session – Professor Karen M. Cook
        Chair: Michiel Kamp
          16:00–17:30Session 3 Identities in Play
          Written by Robert Kurvitz and developed by ZA/UM, the 2019 video game Disco Elysium puts the player in the role of an unnamed detective on a murder case in the fictional city of Revachol. Using the mechanics of a “detective RPG (role-playing game)”, the player character must navigate and interact with locals of the decaying urban borough of Martinaise, discovering a wide array of socioeconomic conflicts that plague the borough’s residents. Instead of interacting through physical conflict like many other role-playing games however, the player must use the statistics of their character’s skills and attributes to overcome complex social conflicts between themselves and the NPCs (non-player characters) they interact with, as well as different facets of the player character’s own psyche. Through these interactions, the player struggles and debates through various political ideologies. Much of the music, composed by the British rock band Sea Power, reflects the ideologies presented throughout the game. This presentation will look at how several music tracks and other game sounds symbolise aspects of your psyche as the player character, how you perceive the history and structure of the world around you, and how you interact with various political ideologies or NPC factions within the game world. Finally, using the Lacanian psychoanalytic concept of “the big other”, I will discuss how Disco Elysium is able to sonically represent its own metamodern critique of sociopolitical structures, ideologies, and social (dis)order through its original soundtrack.
          As with many issues related to identity, the LGBTQ+ community, and video games, designers representing drag performers within games and related media often lean heavily on negative stereotypes and caricatures. Other times, parts of the community are not represented at all. For instance, there are relatively few representations of drag performers within the canon video games, and in the ones that do include drag performers, such as Undertale’s Mettaton, they are often bosses to fight or enemies to avoid. With the recent release of a new mobile game based on the hit TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, the potential for positive (sonic) representations of drag performers in video games is steadily increasing. 
          Further, some pioneers of “digital drag” have begun in recent years to live stream their shows and other content over Twitch, mixing music, video games, and regular staples of drag performance, such as lip-synced performances of popular music. In February 2020, Twitch even invested in various drag performers and encouraged the production of more drag content on the platform through its Drag Community Development Program. In this space, performers combine high camp drag with visual and sonic elements of video games to provide a more visible and audible platform to the gaymer community.
          In this chapter, I will explore the various ways in which drag personas are represented sonically in video games, and I will examine the various points of exchange between live and live-streamed drag performance, video game music and sound, and representation of drag in other media (especially TV and online video).
          The study of trans experiences in game studies has often centered on the emergence of trans creators, issues of representation, and the inclusion of trans narratives in games. Some game studies narratives frame trans creators as needing to repurpose games to include their own experience. While this is true, the mechanics and formal elements of games already allow trans narratives to belong, but this line of inquiry has not been fully explored since trans experiences and game theory has not yet been codified as a mainstream method of game studies. What this means is that trans narratives are often framed as ludic interlopers rather an option as natural as any other mainstream narrative. In this paper, I will demonstrate how two trans creators use sound in video games to remediate gender dysphoria and other trans experiences. Drawing from sound theory, theories of play, and rhetorical listening, I argue that games’ extant ability to reconstruct realities allows trans creators to narrate their experiences. I also assert that the study of how game sound works has excluded its ability to remediate trans experiences, which has resulted in a deficit in games scholarship, especially in definitions of realism. In his article, Beyond Play, Thomas Malaby defines games as “semi bounded arenas that are relatively separable from everyday life, and what is at stake in them can range from very little to the entirety of one’s material, social, and cultural capital” (96) and that they are “activities that can accommodate any number and kind of stakes and are not intrinsically consequence free or, therefore, separable from everyday experience” (98). Games have the capacity to extend beyond the container of the virtual and therefore are an effective narrative medium to learn about and embody ours and others’ experiences. Furthermore, games complicate concepts of reality, realism, and realistic. By “reality”, I speak of the contextual, lived experiences of people. “Realism” is the representation of lived realities and “realistic” is the symbolic representation of something that appears real but is not necessarily a representation of realism. My definition of realism in games is drawn from film theorists such as Jean-Luc Comoli and Sergei Eisenstein. However, the ergodic nature of games calls for an additional consideration: action. In Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture, Alexander Galloway says that, Any game that depicts the real world must grapple with this question of action. In this way, realism in gaming is fundamentally a process of revisiting the material substrate of the medium and establishing correspondences with specific activities existent in the social reality of the gamer (84). Through action, the player navigates the game space and is continuously asked to call upon previous in-game experiences while relating to past ludic experiences and their lived experiences in the material world. The trifecta of these realities informs player decisions and their response to the content in the game world. Games, unlike film, require nontrivial effort to continue the progress of the narrative and it is that relationship to the effort that provides an extra dimension of realism. Therefore, the player can interact with the game space in ways that the creators may not have anticipated, which deepens our understanding of games and their associated realities.
          Chair: George Reid
            18:00 Social Evening at The Packhorse, Egham Hill

            Day 2: 22nd April

            10:00–11:30Session 4Player Cultures
            The novelty effect has not yet worn off for virtual reality headsets, although market penetration is increasing with the efforts of Facebook/Meta and others to help VR across the technology acceptance chasm. The expectations of novice VR users frequently align with the broader sociotechnical imaginaries of VR: they anticipate new, magical experiences and interactions within their headsets. Sometimes, indeed, they find these, but VR in its current stage of development does not always facilitate this. As VR settles into their everyday media ecosystems, patterns of usage reveal the frictions and affordances of the technology and the content currently available. 
            This paper will focus on the perceptions of musical experience in VR, drawing on a 6-month ethnographic study of 60 UK young people between the ages of 16-30 using Oculus Quest 2 headsets. Following DeNora’s(2000) well-known schema of analysis of music in everyday life, I will explore the ways in which a focus on the musical dimensions of VR experience reveals scope for its role in affective regulation and expression, self-modulation, embodied awareness, and social intimacy and organisation. Participants’ experiences indeed exhibit moments of the virtual ‘magic’ that they seek, and their identification of its absences signal desire for the integration of more of the ‘magical’ into their everyday experience– thus, I will argue, signalling some of the politics of the musical dimensions of VR’s sociotechnical imaginaries.
            This proposal examines the carnival party organised by Brazilian GTA RolePlay modding server (I refer to that specific modality here as GTA RP) Cidade Alta in February 2021, sponsored by brands such as Tinder, Engov and Trident. Cidade Alta is one of the most prominent Brazilian GTA RP servers and it represents here a starting point to develop the idea of a gaming scene, drawing on Will Straw’s concept of scenes and the connection between play and culture proposed by Huizinga. In Brazil, although not officially recognised by Rockstar Games, GTA RPs function in huge capacities, attracting thousands of viewers on Twitch, and generating profit by establishing advertising partnerships with big brands. In order to situate GTA RPs, the presentation intends to draw from Laukkanen’s modding scenes and Messias’ idea of “gambiarra” as a strategy to adapt technology in favour or Brazilian gamer’s interests. In 2021, a year in which carnival in Brazil was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cidade Alta accomplished the first GTA RP’s carnival, bringing in-game concerts by artists such as Monobloco, Leo Santtana and Luísa Sonza. This research analyses screen captures collected on Twitch during the event; journalistic accounts on the theme published on online media; and the virtual ethnography conducted by journalist Matheus Fernandes, published on Start UOL in order to define what a gamer scene is.
            My encounter with this year’s conference theme of ‘magical interaction’ conjured that certain something that unfolds for myself, and countless others, as chiptune plays. I reminisced about chipmusic vitalising the exhilarating geometries of in-game worlds. I recalled how chip-musicking became a means of self-expression. I reflected on what continues to draw me to the resonances of chip-sounds in my ludomusicality, as I play with chiptune and chiptune plays with me (Moseley 2016, pp. 1-7). For me, that magical something about chiptune is timbre.
            Integral to shaping our love of music but frustratingly ungraspable, timbre is key to the experience of chiptune’s vibrancy – its life (cf. Van Elferen 2020, pp. 2-4, 171). It’s the immediacy of timbre in chiptune that strikes and ‘sticks’ to the hearts and minds of fans (cf. Thompson and Biddle 2013, p. 5-11, 17; cf. Ahmed 2010, pp. 29-34). Sounds lovingly described as “raw”, “glitched”, “imperfect”, and “broken” can so profoundly ignite our memories, imaginaries, and stir bodily intensities. And in all strands of chip-musicking, such timbral qualities are the ‘consistent distinctiveness’ anchoring the identity of chiptune throughout its heterogeneous remediation (Hodkinson 2002, p. 30-34).
            Yet there remains a marked absence of research into the agency of timbre in chiptune and, more broadly, chiptune in play (cf. Fritsch and Summers 2021, pp. 8-11). How, exactly, do chiptune’s timbral qualities engender the responses that keep us coming back for more? Pursuing this enquiry through a concept I term ‘timbral enchantment’, my paper analyses chip-musicking through a ludomusicological adaptation of Jane Bennett’s vital materialism (2010, i-xii), and Isabella van Elferen’s theorisation of timbre as vibrant matter (2020, pp. 133-175). Through this interdisciplinary lens I will not only explore the vectors of chip-musical performativity, but also highlight the prominence of timbre in all ludomusical contexts.
            Chair: Alexander Espeseth
            12:00–13:30Session 5 Hades
            After entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a palpable upward shift toward consuming stories of familial catharsis and exploring the multi-cultural aspects between life and death. The modern retelling of the Ancient Greek myth of the kidnapping of Persephone, a goddess of Spring who was the daughter of Demeter (goddess of harvest) is one such popular story that embodies both topics. In 2020, Supergiant Games released Hades in 2020 to much acclaim and success, with their protagonist being Zagreus, the heir and son of Hades (god of the dead and King of the Underworld) attempting to escape the Underworld to find his mother. This paper will initially explore how the Hades soundtrack marries the dichotomy between Ancient Greek/Mediterranean style music with metal, using orchestral sound and voice to blend the two at key moments in the game’s narrative. As well as embodying the narrative’s themes on life and death, the soundtrack also exemplifies the themes surrounding dysfunctional family relations, coming to terms with one’s inescapable fate… and healing family divides to make a better future for yourself.
            Darren Korb’s soundtrack for Supergiant Games’ Hades was nominated by both BAFTA and The Game Awards for best music/soundtrack awards. From listening to the music in isolation it would be simple to see why in and of its pure musical conception and execution, but what this paper argues is that the true power behind Korb’s work lies in its interactivity with the game’s mythological setting and narrative, explored in three facets:
            Firstly, the role of instrumentation and compositional technique will be examined, exploring how Korb uses a combination of soundworlds: traditional instruments from around the Aegean, and modern soundworlds of rock and sci-fi, to support the artistic direction of Hades as a game set simultaneously in ancient mythology whilst remaining strangely out of time.
            Secondly, how the specific example of Orpheus — perhaps mythology’s most famous bard — and Eurydice’s story within the game is supported by their songs, and their synthesis into a duet between the two characters; how they act as a narrative foil to the player character through their songs, and how their musical place within the game interacts with the various tellings of their myth.
            Finally, there will be a discussion of the use of wider soundtrack to support the gameplay loop and the theme attempting (and often failing) to ascend out of Hades. Primarily this will involve an examination of the use of the “No Escape” leitmotif, and how its melody, instrumentation, and implementation in-game enforces a sense of hopelessness and futility in the escape effort, simultaneously challenging the player to defiantly succeed in their mission.
            One of the most successful and unusual moments in Supergiant Games’s rogue-like video game Hades (2020) is a strikingly ludomusical one. During one of the player’s many attempts to guide the protagonist, Zagreus, out of the underworld, the player enters a chamber, where, instead of the threatening enemies and urgent music that the player has by now come to expect, a voice sings a forlorn song. This song is Eurydice’s. Retellings of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice have appeared in video games before Hades, but this is strikingly different: in The Battle of Olympus(1988), based loosely on the myth, places Eurydice (renamed Helene) as the damsel in a standard damsel-in-distress narrative; in Terry Cavanagh’s philosophical flash platformer Don’t Look Back(2009),Orpheus’s quest (and thus Eurydice herself)ultimately reveals itself as a psychological journey within the imagination of a would-be Orpheus. Hades is novel among games for centering not just Eurydice but musicality itself, as Eurydice’s song (performed by Ashley Barrett) has a visceral effect in the game. Hades rewards players for quick decision-making, rapid reflexes, and pattern recognition, but many players, as evidenced from comments to the song on YouTube and elsewhere, put down their controller on first hearing Eurydice’s song. Eurydice’s voice thus has a power traditionally ascribed to Orpheus’s voice—in interrupting the ludic rhythm of the game, it brings the player to a state of rest and rapt attention.
            In giving this to music to Eurydice, the game playfully (and therefore effectively)makes the player examine their own relationship to this myth and the gendered dynamics that structure it, establishing Eurydice (to borrow a phrase from Carolyn Abbate) as an authorial voice (Abbate 1993228).In my paper, I propose to further explore Hades’s retelling of myth, seeing this ludomusical moment as exemplary for the game as a whole. For instance, the game is notable for the racial diversity of its characters—Eurydice herself is a Black woman. Eurydice’s voice ultimately enacts the power ascribed to Orpheus’s song, showing the transformative power that both myth and music can have for beliefs and ideas.
            Chair: Michael Austin
            14:30–15:30Keynote Session – Borislav Slavov
            Chair: Tim Summers
              16:00–17:30Session 6 – Gods and Monsters
              In the upcoming game “Aztech Forgotten Gods” developed by Mexican studio Lienzo, one of the slogans used to promote it says “What if the American continent was never conquered and the Great Aztec empire took off and continued growing well into the future?”. This question asks thus an imagined future from an imagined past. Penix-Tadsen (2012) comments that video games “respond to existing notions of culture, serving either to reify or challenge their dominance depending on how such notions are activated in the game realm” (p. 178). What existing notions are activated in Aztech Forgotten Gods? During the post-revolutionary period in Mexico, the national project undertook the enterprise to unify the national identity with the “mestizaje” idea (Alonso 2008, p. 46). Among musicians and composers, the response was the nationalist period. Madrid (2021) points out that the music of Carlos Chávez (nationalist composer) is “a specific articulation of imaginaries of past and future in dialog” (p. 14).

              The present paper does not propose establishing continuity from Carlos Chávez to the music from Aztech Forgotten Gods. Instead, its purpose is to observe how similar ideas, the representation of a past and future founded in prehispanic cultures, produced these cultural products. In the case of the nationalist composers, indigenous melodies and prehispanic instruments are combined with the orchestra and modernist languages. In turn, the music from Aztech Forgotten Gods uses indigenous flutes in combination with jaguar roars over rock music. Even though with different musical styles, the music from Aztech Forgotten Gods responds to similar cultural notions to those of the nationalist composers.
              The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the proliferation of various “Wagnerisms”,
              cultural movements influenced by the music dramas of Richard Wagner, that had
              powerful influence over modernist developments in music, literature, the visual arts,
              architecture, politics, cinema, and more. This presentation briefly explores the history
              and future possibilities of Wagnerism applied to game design. We will first consider the
              superficial qualities of fantasy RPG gaming, observing how the genre’s Tolkienist tropes
              mixed with lush sentimental soundtracks reveal an ancestry in Wagner’s operas. Then,
              we will examine the genre’s pre-history, examining Dungeons & Dragons’ roots in
              Prussian kriegspiel (wargame) and post-psychoanalytic rollenspiel (role-play), both of
              which relate to aspects of Wagner’s ideology and music. We will explore the historical
              relation between psychoanalytic theories of phantasy and music through rollenspiel’s
              connection to Wagner-inspired psychologies–most notably, Jung employs Wagner’s
              leitmotifs in an early definition of his concept of a mental “complex”, later famously taken
              up by Freud. Through this lens we will explore the deeper relations between music and 
              action essential to the process of interactive scoring, as mediated by the “mickey-
              mousing” of film scores, and cartoons in particular, a device arguably invented by
              Wagner. Finally, following Levi-Strauss’ claim that “we must recognize in Wagner the
              undeniable father of the structural analysis of myth,” concrete examples demonstrating
              the relation between theory and practice will be drawn from the author’s Soft Valkyrie, 
              an unabridged digital arrangement of Wagner’s opera Die Walküre that (to use Levi-
              Strauss’ language) “cooks” a new orchestration from the “raw” piano reduction, to 
              situate the piece within a mythic frame shared with D&D, Zelda, Final Fantasy, The
              Eldin Ring, etc.
              The Legend of Zelda games are not inherently themed around religion,
              however there are undercurrents of a religious nature present throughout the
              franchise. These take the form of magical rituals which call upon goddesses, sages,
              and divine power, the earliest example being the ‘bible’ item in the original
              installment of the franchise (Nintendo 1986), which was translated to ‘spell book’ in
              the English edition. Magic within the games is regularly seen to be harnessed by the
              player through musical performance. This article will explore the way in which rituals
              and prayer within the Hylian religion; one of magic and manipulation of the world, are
              presented by the playing of musical instruments. There are a number of ‘divine
              instruments’, such as the Ocarina of Time, the Wind Waker, and the Goddess Harp,
              the latter of which is an instrument regularly seen and heard in games ‘to represent
              religious gatherings and actions’ (Sayce 2015, p.24).
              Focusing on the use of musical instruments within the titles; Ocarina of Time
              (Nintendo 1998), Wind Waker (Nintendo 2002), and Skyward Sword (Nintendo
              2011), it becomes clear that musical performances serve two primary functions;
              music as prayer, and music as magic/manipulation. The former occurs in instances
              of NPC (non-playable-character) musical performance, whilst the latter takes place
              when the player character, Link, is the one performing these musical rituals to
              harness divine power. The outcome of this investigation shows that through the
              musical involvement afforded to the player by these divine instruments, the player
              takes on the role of a ‘participant’ (Morley 2009, p.165) within Hylian religious
              performances through musical interaction, as a means to interact with and
              manipulate the environment in order to progress.
              Chair: Lidia López Gómez
                17:30 Performance Session, Windsor Auditorium
                Nina Whiteman – Foley Island
                This joint paper presents two approaches to employing the Soundbrenner digital metronomes in the composition and performance of concert works with game-like interactions. We consider how such devices might shape notions of group-object interaction, failure and performativity. hhiiddeennvvoorrttiicceess (2022), composed by Luke Nickel for pianist Zubin Kanga, uses five Soundbrenner Core devices on the pianist’s arms and inside the piano. Their tempi are matched to the speeds of a network of rollercoasters shown on-screen. The constantly changing tempi between the hands creates a game of prediction and accuracy – the vertiginous accelerandi are almost impossible for a human performer to render completely accurately. Nickel’s work explores this gap between the computer-driven ideal, and
                the technologically-extended performer in a situation that makes similar demands on the performer as video games requiring a high degree of skill and accuracy. Mensura (2022) is a piece for open ensemble written by Mark Dyer for CoMA Manchester. Each performer measures their own heart rate and sends this tempo to a Soundbrenner Pulse device worn by another performer, creating a type of networked game. As well as employing various group breathing and music-making exercises to steer, synchronize and disrupt player heart rates and the resulting metric polyphony, the piece draws upon aspects of medieval music to create a theatrical sonic world. We will draw upon ethnographic documentation of the creative process of these works and contextualize this within the new interdisciplinary virtuosity of performers, the ontology of electronic instruments and models of gaming interactivity.
                Social Evening

                Day 3: 23rd April

                10:00–11:30Session 7Transmediality
                Transmedia narratives, defined as “a story that expands across many media and communication platforms” (Scolari, 2013), have become the standard way of understanding audiovisual creations, especially since the rise of collaborative platforms, such as YouTube. For this presentation, I consider these narratives in an extended way, examining how the aesthetics of a specific format can be applied to another and then creating a new autonomous product.
                Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding (2019) creates a turning point in transmedia narratives by imbuing the video game with music video aesthetics. Kojima uses preexisting music in key locations of the game, where the action halts. There are no surrounding dangers at that time, and the player interacts with music, camera movements and landscape, becoming the protagonist and architect of what I call a “dynamic music video”–following Collins’ definition of “dynamic music” (2008, 139).
                After experiencing the game, prosumers not only searched the preexistent music video in YouTube –which boosted its views since the premiere of the game–, but also shared their playthrough videos, each of them resulting in a different, personal music video of the same song.
                This study will analyze the musical transmedia narratives created from Death Stranding, both regarding the gameplay experience and the user-generated content, attending to their bidirectional motion: the one that converts the players’ experience in a music video inserted in a videogame, and the one that converts the video game in an autonomous music video.
                League of Legends (LOL) is a video game that has an incredibly large universe, with more than 150 characters with different backstories, abilities, and powers, that create a magical universe through the relationships between characters and their own mythology. The game was developed by Riot Games in 2009 and it belongs to the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre. The transmedia storytelling expansion across different platforms is one of its most relevant characteristics of this game, especially regarding to music videos. Besides, music is currently presented as an element to unify gamers across the word (FebrellColl, 2020). In this sense, popular music and music videos are relevant concepts to improve the promotion of the cultural product (Jeffery, 2017). Thus, the main aim of this paper is to know how LOL expands its narrative across the official music videos launched by LOL in YouTube. To that end, firstly we will describe the formal characteristics of the music videos, and secondly, we will apply to them the methodology of the seven principles of transmedia storytelling proposed by Jenkins (2010). In general terms, not only is it observed how the magical realm and the incredible backstories of the game are expanded through music videos, but also how famous bands like Imagine Dragons, Against The Current or 2WEI are contributing to the expansion of this universe.
                Since its release in 2009, League of Legends has steadily grown its presence and fanbase around the globe. Over the years, the popularity of the video game has afforded the creation of its own subculture, which was further potentiated when making the leap into esports. Since then, the game has progressively expanded its area of influence towards music and, more recently, television.
                In November 2021, Neflix launched Arcane, a TV series based on Riot Game’s popular video game. The nine episodes of the show portray the conflict between the citizens of Piltover, a progressist metropolis with revolutionary technologies, and the marginalized inhabitants from the underground city of Zaun. The main characters of the show, as well as the city names and depicted objects, respond to a preexistent narrative of the game, without this excluding unfamiliar viewers. 
                There are several strategies selected by League of Legends’ developers to appeal to a wider audience, beyond regular users. Riot Music, the group in charge of music and sound design at Riot Games, selected several pop bands and artists to create the show’s original soundtrack, bringing its fantastic world closer to spectators through recognizable sound. As DeNora (2000) underlines, music works as an artefact of memory and its constitution, bringing familiarity to the listener when associated with past experience. The most representative case in this approach between opposites was the billboard success Enemy, by Imagine Dragons.
                In this paper, I explore the intersection between Arcane’s universe and the music industry to which Riot Games has contributed for the past decade. Furthermore, I highlight the reception of the series among and beyond its gamer audience, in relation to the show’s music proposal, and the socialization processes that it has afforded for global viewers.
                Chair: James Ellis
                12:00–13:30Session 8 – Cultural Representation
                Rather than older, overly simplified, colonial (Mukherjee 2017) and harmful representations of indigenous cultures in cultural texts, more recent productions tend to depict these cultures in more affirmative light, focusing on a somehow deeper understanding of them. Those productions often rely on visual and textual references, like clothing, choreography, or language, but despite the consultations, traditional music is missing, and the religions they present are uniformised and superficial (Kalvig 2020, Fonneland 2020). TheSkabma – Snowfallgame, while belonging to this positive folklorism trend, is an exception. The main occurring paraphernalia is the Saami drum, Goavaddis, and the magic the main character has is used by drumming. The performative character of the music is quite rare in video games (Collins 2008, Summers 2016). Putting so much gravity on this element is connected with Saami tradition (Laiti et al. 2020). InSkabma,Saami culture is taken very seriously, without deformation coming from making it alike other more known cultures (especially Siberian shamanism). In European Christian and colonial tradition, the Saami people are considered to be the witchcraft nation. They are stereotypically demonised and misunderstood. In reality, however, their beliefs focused simply on sustaining a connection with nature (Fonneland and Äikäs 2020, Kasten 1989, Hagen 2006). In my presentation, I will show how music inSkabmais an essential part of worldbuilding in the field ofmythos. The game introduces players to a more profound understanding of actual culture through virtual imaginarium by using original elements in a fantastic yet uncompromising way.
                The idea of the Celtic, and its relationship with the historic and mythological, in multimedia, is investigated by Simon Nugent as a term that ‘connotes a distinct culture and race of people, primarily located in Ireland and Scotland, but also in Cornwall, Galicia, Brittany, and Wales’; however, the Celtic often tends to be used as an example of northern medievalisms to fetishize lost histories, rather than explicitly relate to any Celtic region. Whereas Nugent identifies the primary focus of celticisms to be that of Scottish and Irish heritage, the Welsh accent has been used in several video games to characterise the mythological Celtic and the magical.
                Whilst Welsh voices are used consistently within Western film and television to denote Wales, across diverse multimedia spaces like Star Trek: Discovery (d. Fuller & Kurtzman, 2017) and The Last Kingdom (BBC & Netflix, 2015), they are used in video games to suggest the magical or the ‘other’. This paper will consider how these Welsh voicesare used in the soundscape to signify medieval, mythological, and magical environments and characters, within game worlds, including the localisations of Japanese RPGs Ni No Kuni (Level-5, 2013) and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Monolith Soft, 2017).
                In 2013, game developer Jagex released a “new” title: Old School RuneScape (OSRS). Based on a 2007 backup of their award-winning MMORPG RuneScapeOSRS aimed to capitalise on feelings of nostalgia amongst current and former players. Since it’s release, the game has released content based on the modern RuneScape game alongside original content designed to fit within the “retro” OSRS game. Similarly, music within OSRS can be seen as a combination of restored 2007 music, “unmastered” music from RuneScape and new music for OSRS content. The resulting mixture of inspirations and approaches poses challenges to the concept of nostalgia within the OSRS soundtrack. 
                Technical limitations present from 2003-2007 placed barriers between musicians and composition in the original RuneScape game. These restrictions predominantly exist artificially within OSRS and, on some occasions, have been ignored: sound libraries have been changed, new instruments sampled, and audio hardware/software significantly improved. Alongside changes to audio implementation, challenges to the “authenticity” of the soundtrack can be found: new tracks have been added, including tracks which supplement or entirely replace music found in the original “nostalgic” release, and player experiences of music have been altered through music engine updates. Compositional approaches have also changed significantly, with new composers finding creative solutions to overcome any remaining artificial restrictions. 
                Despite these changes clearly challenging the nostalgic recreation at the heart of OSRS, the fan reactions to changes within and around the music has been generally positive. An understanding of how the fans visualise the “retro” aesthetic of OSRS  can be gained considering issues raised and discussed within the community: how do fans situate their sense of “nostalgia” in the context of a living, changing game? This offers broader contextualisation of questions surrounding recreating audio for “retro” remakes.
                Chair: Milly Gunn
                14:30–15:30Session 9 – Perceiving Worlds
                Shin Megami Tensei: Persona (also known worldwide simply as Persona) is a role-playing video game series that is usually described as ‘urban fantasy’ that takes place in modern Japan. The central concept of the series is collective unconsciousness, and many concepts within it are based on Jungian philosophy and archetypes. The players have a chance to experience two different worlds: the one all of us are used to (conscious) and the one created by the hearts of humanity (subconscious). The difference between the worlds is highlighted by various references to mythology, philosophy, religion, and literature themes that are present in the subconscious world within the game. Two worlds differ from each other in many aspects and so does the music that goes along and creates a unique atmosphere for each part of the series. It also changes the players’ perception of the events that are taking place on the screen, trying to create an audible distinction between the ‘conscious’ and ‘subconscious’ worlds. The aim of this paper is to discuss the ways the said distinction was reached, and how the players perceive these differences within the game and out of context. A survey on music perception and gaming experience among participants from different backgrounds is going to provide the necessary data that will help to reach the aim. My goal for this paper is to address the main differences in music that is used to create two different worlds in Persona series and provide insights on players’ experience and how these differences affect their perception of the games themselves.
                Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is a 2016 strategy video game in which the player guides a civilization from the Ancient Era to the present day and beyond. This research examines the music of Georgia in Civilization VI through the lens of authenticity. Three criteria are employed for this analysis: authenticity of performers, authenticity of performance practice, and temporal authenticity. The Georgian musical performances are by Trio Kavkasia, a North American group with over eighty-five years of experience singing Georgian music. These performances are arranged and adapted by composer Geoff Knorr, known for his work on other Civilization games. This music is placed in relationship to Georgian music scholarship as well as musical and non-musical scholarship on the Civilization series. Special attention is placed on the hymn “Shen Khar Venakhi” (“You Are the Vineyard”). This hymn was written in the twelfth century by King Demetre II and has survived both Russian and Soviet censorship to become one of the most beloved pieces of music in the country. It is used as the theme music for Georgia, appearing in four arrangements of increasing complexity corresponding to four eras of history (Ancient, Medieval, Industrial, and Atomic). Ultimately, due to the long and complex history of Georgian music, coupled with the very structure of Civilization VI and its musical implementation, complete authenticity is impossible. Even so, the game represents the rich musical tradition of Georgia well and exposes tens of thousands of players to it.
                Chair: Jennifer Smith
                  16:00–17:30Session 10 – Creatures
                  I’m an ornithologist and conservationist developing the forest, grassland, and wetland habitats of my aviary, attracting birds to my network of nature preserves in Wingspan. I listen across the the tabletop and digital versions of Wingspan, attuning my ear to the ways in which the game is part of this multisensory and interactive tradition of knowing the nonhuman animal through the visual and sonic realism of “field marks”and representational habitat detail that guide species identification in the field. I argue that versionings of Wingspan afford players different kinds of opportunities to look and listen more carefully to species-specific sonic behavior. Fans of the tabletop version expressed online that they wanted to hear,as well as see the birds they collected and played in their personal aviaries. With each expansion pack release, the percentage of sound-oriented fieldnotes increased, but they describe how their calls related to their habitat or make comparisons using anthropocentric musical terms (e.g., “flute-like” song). When players listen to the descriptions on each card they are rarely listening to the birds. While the tabletop game arguably remains the fan favorite, the digital edition takes the concept of building bird sanctuaries by adding the call of each bird played to aviary’s acoustic environment. In contrast to the tabletop version, the Wingspan digital game adaptation provides players with the opportunities to listen to the birds as not just a collection of visual specimens in the ecosystem of their board, but also as a soundscape of avian chaos.
                  Ludomusicology is concerned with, among other things, sounds and music as design elements in computer game culture and the musical practices of sound production. Part of this sound production is called “sound scraping.” “Sound scraping” refers to the “scraping together” of already known, natural sounds, as well as their rearrangement in the form of overlapping or mixing. The results are sounds that cannot be created or recorded naturally, for example dragon roars or the sounds of a purely virtually existing instrument. This method is primarily used in the field of computer game audiotracks for fantasy, adventure and role-playing games. The term itself was decisively coined in practice by sound designers and composers of game audio and soundtracks, for example the long-time sound designer of the “Game of Thrones” franchise, Paula Fairfield. In an interview with the online magazine GoldDerby on August 20, 2018, she explained in detail how she used sound scraping to create the distinctive dragon roars by using sounds from lions, elephants, tortoises and comodo dragons. But why does a dragon in the computer game originating from the Japanese “Pokémon” franchise ‘roar’ completely differently than a comparable lindworm from the video game of the American “World of Warcraft” franchise? The phenomenon of “sound scraping” to create sounds and music in computer games and its cultural historical background will be the focus of this presentation. The principle of “sound scraping”, despite great practical importance, has so far remained almost completely unnoticed scientifically. Especially in connection with the investigation of the sound production process as well as the cultural-historical background, a real research gap opens up here. It is an intregal and important part of fantastical game music and provides therefore interactions between the virtual and realistic sound world.
                  In addition to research methods of musicology, those of comparative media studies are also to be applied here. This interdisciplinary orientation enables the integration of different analytical techniques and the exchange with other scholars on an international level.
                  Many music video games imitate and gamify various activities related to composing and performing music (Austin, 2016) – from the guitar training simulator series Rocksmith (2014) to the viral hypercasual game Piano Tiles (2014). My Singing Monsters (Big Blue Bubble, 2012) is one of the early examples of free-to-play music games, and a very rare example of partnership with successful (at the time) music artists in the free-to-play economy. Sadly, the process of making music is only auxiliary to the core mechanics of the game, which reproduce the typical free-to-play business logic (Seufert, 2014). In my analysis of the political economy of the game, I suggest that it playfully introduces techniques of quantification and reification (Lukacs, 1972) of creative labor to its magical world, which results in alienation from the results of one’s artistic output. On a positive note, I demonstrate that the liberating potential of the game still can be found in its childish monstrosity, which can be best characterized by ‘abjection’ (Kristeva, 1984). This reliance on the typical aesthetic devices of children’s horror separates the game from the typical, potentially exploitative aesthetic of ‘cuteness’ (Page, 2016)  in free-to-play games that need to have mass appeal by design. While only a fraction of players uses the game to create music, it becomes a unique, personal, and non-alienable experience for each and every of them.
                  Chair: Stephen Tatlow

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