Refining the Zone: Enriched Video Game Immersion in Hub Zones through Phases of Musical Re-Composition

Benjamin Lang and Ross McLennan Part of CW18

Immersion is a vital aspect of the video game experience (Brown, E. Cairns, P. 2004), and game audio plays a significant role in its design and consumption. Favourable audio has been shown to have a marked effect on the experience of immersion in video games (Gasselseder, H. 2014), while undesirable audio can negatively affect sensory and imaginative immersion (Brown, E. Cairns, P. 2004). As video game hubs in hub-based game designs are such an integral part of the overall experience, audio elements within hub zones must be as immersive as possible.

This study will attempt to improve levels of game immersion in hub zones by improving one aspect of audio design – the music. The research will require ten participants to interact with a re-composed hub environment for a duration of ten minutes. During this interaction, visual observations of the participants will measure any visual indicators of enjoyment and immersion. After the interaction period is complete, participants will be interviewed: how did they feel; how much time had they felt had passed and how much of an influence did the music have on their levels of enjoyment and immersion.

The research will be conducted using the methodological framework of action research, a cycling system of research where a product is created, tested, results reflected upon, then refined and created again using the information gathered. In order to gather enough data to create an effective immersive hub composition, three cycles of action research will be conducted. If successful, this iterative re-composition process could help improve immersion in hub environments – and video games in general.