Ambiance Up, Music Down

Click the play button below to listen while you read.

Listening to the sounds above may help aid synthesis of the following text (No video to watch).

I like immersion in games. In World of Warcraft, you were allowed to adjust audio sliders for music, ambiance, and combat/interface sounds. One of my favorite things to do would be to slide everything down except for the sounds of my character and the ambient sounds of the game world. It made the game feel much more satisfying as an emulation of reality (ignoring the fact that WoW’s art style is heavily stylized on purpose). There were wondrous environments to explore there, aided by the sounds of crickets, birds, tumbling wood, sand storms, or rainfall. One of my favorite parts of this was how it gave the game more emotion by removing noise, instead of adding it.

Life is often silent, and I can remember many occasions being alone in some thick forest, casting out the reel of my fishing line, and just listening to the hum of the developer’s vision. It’s art unlike any other. I think I could appreciate it in a big way because I also liked camping, hiking, and exploring. The game allowed you to experience that sense of exploration; most importantly, it still let a feeling of wonder fall on you, as though you were exploring it yourself.

There’s something to be said about the desire to make games more life-like. By making a playable environment with elements of reality, you’re essentially removing the physical or mental work that goes along with attaining those experiences while still providing the feelings of being there. Some games succeed at this more than others, usually with role-playing games capping the top of the list. Other times, fans have modified games that already contain elements of exploration in order to make the visual experience more pleasurable for the user.

Below are two such examples of fan-made realism (click the images for larger pictures). The left picture is from the Grand Theft Auto 4 (GTA4) realism mod (link). The picture on the right is for a realistic Minecraft mod (link).

GTA4 Realism Mod   Minecraft Realism Mod

These games, and others that try to further immerse the player, are quite different in their original intents. GTA4 is a triple-A title about a man involved in gangs, violence, and money in a fictional city based on New York. Minecraft is an indie-made pseudo-dungeon crawler about gathering resources and building up your environment. Both of these games excel in turning the environment into a living world where the user is able to connect with people, places, and emotions.

Turning up the ambiance isn’t the only way to experience a game in more depth. It just serves as a lesson in that direction. Turning down the music can often even detract (i.e. don’t take the title as law). Trying to connect more closely to a game is something I would suggest to everyone at least once. It’s similar to the way you can get lost in a good novel or start crying during a compelling movie. Yet, it’s so much more experiential due to the medium. Experiencing a world, virtual or otherwise, in a new way is a great way to see life from a different perspective and to reflect on what it is about reality or virtual worlds that truly resonates with you.

Kid Goes Crazy About His Game

I am pretty sure most of you have seen this video already, but I looked at a recent post, and I have not seen it. Personally I find it very funny, but I think it can also be an educational video.

I thought it might be a good idea to post it here since we were talking about World of Warcraft in class and how it can help you to get certain skills required to get a job. Here is a video which is not going to support this argument, but will be more of a reminder for every one to take breaks while playing their games during the semester. I think that the kid from this video might be a great example of someone who forgot to take breaks while playing his favorite World of Warcraft and completely forgot about the real world. It is easy to tell that the boy really lost control over what is going on. I think that he does not understand the problem he has. The problem is that he is not able to distinguish the difference between his real personality and his game character. It is probably the effect of not taking breaks from the game and also the fact that apparently his parents reacted too late to their son’s addiction to that game. I believe that one of the best methods of learning is to learn from someone else’s mistakes rather than committing them yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijNohhowplI

Archives