Varley, Matthew (2018) A Case Study on Understanding the Influence of Diegetic Audio on Immersion in a Third-Person Role-Playing Game. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis investigates the influence of diegetic audio in relation to creating immersive
gameplay experiences in third-person perspective games. Previous research suggests
that immersion is key to an excellent gaming experience (Brown & Cairns, 2004). In
particular, certain works show the influence of audio in relation to immersive experiences
(Stockburger, 2003; Jorgensen, 2008, 2011; Grimshaw, 2007, 2012; Huiberts, 2010;
Usher, 2012). Drawing on this evidence, I created a video-game wherein diegetic audio
could be manipulated adaptively in an experimental environment as the game is played.
A convergent parallel mixed-method case study (Creswell, 2014) was developed to
determine if removing, modifying, or de-synchronising elements of the diegetic
soundscape in a third-person role-playing game (RPG) at runtime would negatively affect
immersion in the game. First, I examined quantitative aspects of gamer preference, genre
expectations, and previous experiences of immersion, to determine the likelihood of
becoming immersed in the test game. Next, ten participants played the game whilst,
unknown to them, auditory aspects of the game were modified. Finally, players took part
in a semi-structured interview to reveal how they felt the audio changes influenced their
immersion in the game, or if they noticed the changes.
Findings showed that participants were engaged sufficiently that none noticed the
adaptation of key avatar sounds, such as footsteps, and none noticed a discontinuity in
ambient background sounds. Players revealed that much of their attention was taken up
with completing game objectives and learning the game controls. This suggests that
when a player’s attention is diverted by an objective, less attention is free to give to
sounds that are not crucial for that task: challenge-based immersion is increased, whilst
immersion in the sensory aspects of the game is decreased. Developing an experimental
game environment offers further insight into the role of diegetic audio in third-person
perspective games, and how it influences immersive gameplay experiences.

FINAL THESIS (6).pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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