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The Journal of Sonic Studies
Journal of Sonic Studies, volume 6, nr. 1 (January 2014)Iain McGregor; Phil Turner; David Benyon: USING PARTICIPATORY VISUALISATION OF SOUNDSCAPES TO COMPARE DESIGNERS’ AND LISTENERS’ EXPERIENCES OF SOUND DESIGNS

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3.4 Design 04: Game Sound Effects

The fourth design utilized sound effects used for a commercially released console video game. All of the sound events were part of a company’s sound library, for designers to use in the construction of games. Eight separate audio files were included; the shortest was less than 1 second long and the longest 1 minute and 19 seconds (Audio 3). Half of the files, which were all recordings of a female voice speaking single words, were single sound events, and the remaining 4 were atmospheric constructs with between 3 to 5 sound events (see Table 9).

The designer considered all of the 18 sound events to be informative (see Figure 8), and either speech or sound effects. Full use was made of the range of the remaining attributes. For the material attribute, gas was predominantly used to classify the voices, most of the “birds”, and some of the dogs. Liquid was consistently chosen for “water”, and solid was applied to “kiss”, “hit”, and some of the dog sounds. There was increased consistency for the Interaction attribute. The designer used continuous to classify only the water sounds, all of the birds were intermittent, and all of the voices were impulsive. Only the dog sounds were inconsistent, being either impulsive or intermittent. The majority (10) of the sound events were temporally short, only 3 were medium, and 5 were long. Atmospheric sound effects, such as the waterfall, tended to be temporally long, whereas speech was either short or medium.

The listeners rated only 12 of the 18 sound events as being informative (see Figure 9). Four were found to be uninformative, 1 was neutral, and 1 was both informative and uninformative, illustrating that there were contradictory responses. Each of the sound events classified by the listeners as uninformative, as well as the single neutral sound event, were speech. Three of these were also unclear, whilst the remaining 2 were clear. The designer regarded only 1 of the sound events as unclear.

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Table 9: Key for figures 8 and 9

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Figure 8: Designer’s game sound effects visualisation

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Figure 9: Listeners’ game sound effects visualisation

When considering the sound design as a whole, sound effects can be considered successful when they are informative and convey the required emotions accurately. There is a difference for the two groups with regards to speech (see Table 10). The emotions are not conveyed, being consistently considered as neutral by the listeners as well as predominantly uninformative. However, the designer judged them to be both informative, conveying either positive or negative emotions. This is perhaps due to a problem with the dialogue delivery rather than the sound design. More sound events were considered clear by the listeners than by the designer, which may be due to the artificial nature of the task, where sound events were listened to in isolation, without reference to a game.

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Table 10: Summary of classifications