“Designing an Auditory Experience Using a Location-based Computer Game” by Kristiansen

Erik Kristiansen presented “Designing an Auditory Experience Using a Location-based Computer Game” at the “Sound, Art, Auditory Cultures” conference in Copenhagen (28.-30.11.07). These are personal notes I took of his paper – not a summary or review.

Didn’t manage to get Kristiansen’s card, but at least a picture of one – at the wine reception of the conference.

Erik Kristiansen’s interest is to go beyond audio as part of the game or supporting the game to audio-mostly games – and how they intersect with pervasive gaming or location-based games. Erik Kristiansen is designing a new audio-mostly pervasive game. It is “serious” game where the participants are supposed to learn something. It is called Klintespillet (I’m not 100% sure about the spelling here…it translates as “Cliff Game”). The exiting thing is that it works without maps or screens. The participants are depended on listening to find the 29 hotspots in the outdoor area. The outdoor players are guided by online players that have access to maps and the outdoor player’s location.

Picture of the cliffs on Mons by dacoba on flickr.

Kristiansen explains the game in his abstract:

‘In cooperation with a new geological museum (“Geocenter Møns Klint”) and the Danish Forest and Nature Agency (“Skov og Naturstyrelsen”), we wanted to design a new way of experiencing the nature. A part of the wood (approx. 1km2) close to the museum at the island of Møn was chosen. As the experience is aimed at children at the age of 13-15 years, it was decided to use a computer game in a new way. Provided with hand held computers and headsets the players explore the wood while hearing voices telling a complicated story. The game is to uncover as much of the story as possible. The gamers hear different parts of the story in different sites of the wood. What the gamers hear pretend to be snippets of conversation recorded at the spot they are hearing them. Consequently the gamers have to move through the wood, visiting different sites, to hear as much of the drama as possible. … While the players move around the wood, other players using a conventional pc, are part of the same game and auditory experience – but without using their body. ‘

He introduced several examples of audio mostly games and installations:

“REXplorer” (developed by RWTH Aachen), a commercial GPS+mobile phone audio guide for tourists in Regensburg.

“The Songs of North”, developed by the University of Tampere, where a pda screen acts as a drum to communicate with other players over several days.

“Wanderer” by Hielscher and Heitlager that works with audio commands such as “left” or “right”.

“Organum” by Niemeyer is a voice-controlled game/art installation.

“I love bees” is a complicated (marketing campaign) where people had to pick up messages form public phone boxes and collaboratively had to puzzle together the story over months.

“Core Sample” by Teri Rueb (I blogged about this piece earlier this year here) is also mentioned.

Kristiansen also presented some background research in the area of audio and gaming, for example:
a recent PhD by Kristine Jorgenson . Her research ‘focuses on computer games research. She is in particular interested in questions about audio, spatiality, and player actions, in addition to comparative perspectives between computer games and the film medium. Kristine Jørgensen’s PhD dissertation from Copenhagen University is an investigation of the functionality of computer game audio, and focuses on the relationship between game audio and player actions.’ (From her website).

Overall, my impression is that the area of sound and gaming is still under researched but there seems to be a growing interest and community, http://www.gamessound.com/ by Karen Collins who is also publishing the book “From Pac Man to Pop Music” with Ashgate in 2008.

Let’s hope for more exciting research in the area of sound and gaming, especially for the mobile context!


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