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NeuroChems avatar 12:41 PM on 05.26.2011  (server time)
CONSCIOUSTOID #1: Orbb, Mynx, and Angel

Greetings fellow Dtoiders!

I come bearing Conscioustoid, a series Iíll be trying to keep up with about a lesser known use for video games; academic research. As a graduate student in neuroscience, I have to read many, many journal articles to keep up with my studies and I thought why not read ones about GAMES. Now before you dismiss these as boring Vulcan science, Iím aiming to create discussion about the topics Iíll present and explain to the community at large whatís going on in your brain while youíre sitting in front of your screen for hours. I hope you find it as interesting as I do.

First, Iíd like to make a note on current research in video games. After researching this for quite a while, Iíve found it to be very similar to the gaming industry itself. A bunch of shit is put out that satisfies various government and corporate meatheads with their money-stoked furnaces, telling them what they want to hear about how video games make kids aggressive or fat or otherwise making games a social scapegoat. Digressing, there are some passionate researchers out there who aim to truly understand human-computer interaction and the effect this all-senses engaging media has on us earthlings.

As we can all attest, music provides an undoubted sensory factor to the gaming experience. Also, after recently seeing Video Games Live (which everyone needs to see immediately) this topic provided especially intriguing. A study I found out of Montreal back from 2005 used (I donít pick the games) Quake III Arena and set up a game in Q3DM3 with the player as a Klesk fighting an Orbb, Mynx, and Angel bot for 10 minutes. Two groups played with either no sound at all, or just the in-game music. They found that the gamers who played with the music had higher levels of stress hormone, cortisol, than the other group. Also interesting is that the gamers with elevated stress didnít report feeling stressed while they were gaming.

My two cents: From my personal experience, the music makes all the difference. If the narrative and play style donít get in the way, the music can make or break the immersion. Iíve been recently playing the Assassinís Creed series and the majestic, grandiose music playing even while aimlessly jumping around makes me feel like Iím doing something important. It makes me wonder what it would be like if there were some kind of music playing during multiplayerÖ Although I think being down 48 to 49 without the shotty or the sword is stressful enough already. We donít want people going code blue.

So, I ask, what effect does the music in your games have on you? Do you notice the music stressing you out? Some games, Halo and Assassinís Creed as alluded to, really put emphasis on the timing of music in certain sequences. On the other hand, the music can totally ďruinĒ a sceneÖcoughÖDeadly PremonitionÖ Does this make games better overall? Tell me!

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