Tag Archives: DIGC335

Audio: The True Hero In All Video Games?

The effect of video, images and all kinds of visual landscapes on our minds, are very vivid, and we commonly highlight the concept that a picture tells 1000 words – Indeed! But, why don’t we add the dimensional layer of Audio, that not only allows you to vividly visualise something with your eyes, but also being effected in an audible way to which heightens our senses, makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, creates tension and abruptly affects our reactions.

Video Games have endured a long journey from its early developments in the 8-bit Era (Third-generation consoles) 1972–1988 where simple, retro, chiptune electronic sounds from consoles such as Famicom/Nintendo (NES), Sega & Atari would be created for popular games like Pong! & Space Invaders in their super early developments with                        “one pulse sounds” and no background sounds. Its not until 1985 with games such as Super Mario Bros. when rhythmic strings of sounds and musical compositions would be created to provide aural clues in relation to the gameplay, where most commonly the music would gradually rise in tempo to induce a reaction in the user that time is essentially running out!

Throughout the 16, 32 & Early 64-bit Eras, musical compositions which were relative to the current setting of the gameplay would be created originally for those video games only. Where electronic music producers would create an album of soundtracks for entire games as they allowed for a larger amount of storage on Compact Disc (CDs).

It’s not until the 6th Generation gaming and onwards where sound design and audio within Video Games have become a collection and creative recipe of all variants of it’s predecessors. If you can, picture (aurally), soundscapes and sound design which create an urge in the user to feel emotion or react to sound in a way that effects their gameplay. The Metal Gear Solid Series is an excellent example of this,  where the gameplay soundtrack seamlessly mix into high-tense environments and then to more calming scenes where the user is safe in their current environment. Along with all Foley, Background, found sound design, the entire experience covers a range of depth, with viciously noticeable sounds in the foreground and the more subtle elements which create the atmosphere but aren’t necessarily always noticeable.

Without these complimentary aural senses the user is almost playing the entire video game blind. As their reactions to the challenges within the game assist to solve the obstacles the video game possesses. Essentially, sound design is the true reality behind what you see with your eyes, must also be seen with your ears.

The aim and “end game” for my research is to highlight how video games use audio in a creative and most interesting way to induce a reaction from the gamer – (And I’m not talking about Dance Dance Revolution, or Guitar Hero variants) The search for “clever use” of audio in video games is very limited, which I believe will be a challenge in itself. However, exploring tangents of this idea of “Audio Effect/Driven Video Games” will be something I have to explore further and then hopefully narrow down from there.

The Search continues – any ideas will be kindly appreciated

– Dan

Self-Driving Shenanigans

Technology is constantly evolving with an emphasis on making life more convenient and helping certain chores become less time-consuming. Self-driving cars are one of these technologies and it’s easy to see the ways in which you could benefit from them. You could be dropped off at work and the car could park itself, you would no longer need a designated driver on those late-night celebrations, there would be no need to get angry at someone who didn’t indicate and you could spend your time productively as you were chauffeured to your destination. Such simple changes that provide a whole new way of living, and yet there are still a few hurdles to cross before its initiation – on top of the fact that the technology has not been perfected.

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With both self-driving cars and humans on the roads, the legal issue of who is responsible for a crash comes into question – should the passenger or the software be blamed and who pays for the damages? Just recently, Google’s self-driving car was the cause of an accident for the first time – all previous incidents occurred when a driver took over its automated system (Kantrowitz, 2016). According to a report by Google, the car “believed the bus would stop or slow down” but the driver did neither of these actions (which is perfectly acceptable) and therefore it made contact with the vehicle. In the future, new laws will have to be implemented to ensure the safety of both drivers and passengers as well as eliminating any grey areas; a similar thing is occurring now with drones due to its increased use and popularity. To bring this back to my project, I’ll take a look into the legislation that is currently in place and what other laws they may have to take into account when autonomous cars are more wide-spread.

Another aspect of self-driving cars that needs to be addressed is the potential for cyber-terrorism. Anyone who has seen I, Robot may have a well-founded reason to be afraid of autonomous technology, but what happens when an autonomous vehicle is hacked not by an artificial intelligence, but by a terrorist? Cars could be be forced off the road, driven into crowds of people or made to crash into a building. Hackers have a knack for adapting to new technologies and those developing these vehicles must be aware of these possibilities while they design their cars.

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Google has used a series of car models for its road-testing including the Toyota Prius and Audi TT, but now their fleet mainly consists of prototypes and modified Lexus SUVs. However, Google is not the only company looking into the self-driving market; Volvo has planned to release 100 autonomous cars by 2017 that will be used by actual customers in Sweden (ONE News, 2016). As part of my research on self-driving cars, I will look at our car culture and compare it to how it may look in the future. If no one is driving the car, high-powered engines become unnecessary for the everyday trip and driving itself becomes a hobby rather than an expectation. So then will certain brands still grant passengers a level of status? Will a drivers licence no longer be a rite of passage? Will there be groups opposed to this autonomous driving? It will be interesting to see how our culture changes through time towards this technology and whether it is possible that one day driving will be limited to sports racing.

Reference List:
Kantrowitz, A. (2016), Watch This Sad Bus Driver Get Hit By A Driverless Car and Realize He Can Only Blame Technology, Buzzfeed. Accessed at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/alexkantrowitz/watch-googles-self-driving-car-hit-a-bus#.hfGOxpQK3q
– ONE News (2016), ‘Eyes OFF the road’: Driverless car experiment to send a whole new message, TVNZ. Accessed at: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/world/eyes-off-road-driverless-car-experiment-send-whole-new-message

Let’s Talk About the CD

November 13, 2015. That was the last time I bought a physical copy of an album. I know it’s not that long ago, but considering the world that we live in today, buying a physical copy is something of the past. But when did it become the norm to stop buying CDs and to start digitally download or stream music? And why do artists still stick with the format of the album?

On August 17, 1982, the first compact disc was manufactured in a Philips factory in Germany. Philips soon joined forces with Sony to develop and perfect the compact disc. Later in the year, the first CDs and CD players were introduced to the masses in Japan with great interest. Two years later, the disc took Europe by storm, with roughly 25 million CDs being produced (“History of the CD” n.d.). With this new musical technology now open to the public, the vinyl was replaced placed on the back burner.

We all know what the CD looks like (or I hope we all do).It’s a polycarbonate plastic disc with a transparent layer only 1.2mm thick. And on that disc there is 80 minutes of playing time (Crawford n.d.). Think about it: with 80 minutes on a CD, that’s about an average of 12 songs per album. And it’s not like artists are releasing albums every six months. It takes time to write, create, and produce. So once an album does get released, loyal fans and consumers want to listen to it right away. The thought of having to go to the store to buy the album barely crosses our minds, especially those of Millennia and Generation Z. Why waste the energy of buying a physical copy when you could be digitally downloading the album and have it in seconds?

My focus is to research how our culture has shaped and re-shaped the way that the consumer has access to music. I will look into the affect the “album” has on not only the listener, but the artist as well. More specifically, I will dig into the digital distribution of music, the importance (or insignificance) of the track list, and the mixtape/playlist relationship. Who knows, maybe the CD will find a way to climb back up the charts with artists like Tyler the Creator and Kendrick Lamar perfecting the album-dependent listening experience.

Resources:

Crawford, Awyn. “The Rise of the Compact Disc.” Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences. Web. 13 Mar. 2016<http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/the80sareback/2011/02/the-rise-of-the-compact-disc/&gt;.

“History of the CD.” Philips Research. Web. 13 Mar. 2016<http://www.research.philips.com/technologies/projects/cd/&gt;.