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Durham University


Music, Media and Technologies

Kate Mancey (University of Liverpool) – The hidden soundtrack: music making in Rez Infinite

15:40-17:10 - Session III: Theories and applications

United Game Artists’ Rez Infinite (PSVR) is a musical rail shooter, its hidden soundtrack is created through the use of reward stingers which are dictated by the player’s actions. The player essentially becomes a musician in the game as the musical reward for their in-game ability builds on a sparse rhythmic background and takes precedence in both volume and processed proximity to the player’s ear. Through analysis of the musical construction of these stingers in relation to the looping background music (the original soundtack), we see how this second soundtrack is just as vital to gameflow, as the music creates a feedback loop, leading to a better environment for sustained gameplay. Playing musically, in time with the soundtrack, benefits the player. Adhering to rhythmic conventions when timing shots makes it easier to advance through the levels, and quickens the control learning process. As the levels increase in difficulty, the original soundtrack increases in tempo and in complexity, to encourage a faster pace of shooting and therefore more successful game play. The player becomes a musician, playing the video game as if it were an instrument without being acutely aware. By applying Sweester and Wyeth’s GameFlow model (2005), an extension of Csikszentmihalyi ‘s Flow Theory (1990), we can draw parallels between learning a musical instrument and learning to play a video game, with sonic reward as a large facilitator. In conclusion, this paper discusses video games as a music creation tool, and the musicality of video game play, through analysis of Rez Infinite, exploring the role of reward stingers in play.