d’Escriván, Julio and Collins, Nick (2011) Musical Goals, Graphical Lure and Narrative Drive: VisualAudio in Games. Journal of Visual Culture, 10 (2). pp. 238-246. ISSN 1470-4129

Musical computer games and their reward structures are transforming solitary and participative music making. Visuals in musical games tend to assume the role of music in video games as they become incidental to the gameplay or provide graphical aid for musical decision making. Constrained manifestations of musical skill in game software simulations point towards the development of real world musical skills. Yet, arguably, no video game so far developed requires the kind of sophisticated expression that a musician hones by training. The time-scale for mastery is an order of magnitude greater in traditional musical instruments and teaching, but we may be at the dawn of a new audiovisual musical learning paradigm. The more a videogame is like music, the more abstract it becomes and the more its rewards are deferred. The more music is like a rhythm-game, the less spontaneous it becomes and arguably the less self-expressive. To guarantee rewards and the achievement of goals, feedback must be direct: ‘you have scored X points’. Concrete rewards move a game forward, they articulate its progression. But they could coexist with the qualitative experience, doing for rhythm-games what Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) have done for first- person shooters. This social connectivity is implicit in online play modes, but a more profound social consequence in creative space could be engineered in the long term, particularly with enhanced understanding and appreciation of human emotional states in affective computing.

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