Game Audio in Audio Games : Towards a Theory on the Roles and Functions of Sound in Audio Games

University essay from Högskolan Dalarna/Ljud- och musikproduktion


For the past few decades, researchers have increased our understanding of how sound functions within various audio–visual media formats. With a different focus in mind, this study aims to identify the roles and functions of sound in relation to the game form Audio Games, in order to explore the potential of sound when acting as an autonomous narrative form. Because this is still a relatively unexplored research field, the main purpose of this study is to help establish a theoretical ground and stimulate further research within the field of audio games. By adopting an interdisciplinary approach to the topic, this research relies on theoretical studies, examinations of audio games and contact with the audio game community. In order to reveal the roles of sound, the gathered data is analyzed according to both a contextual and a functional perspective.

The research shows that a distinction between the terms ‘function’ and ‘role’ is important when analyzing sound in digital games. The analysis therefore results in the identification of two analytical levels that help define the functions and roles of an entity within a social context, named the Functional and the Interfunctional levels. In addition to successfully identifying three main roles of sound within audio games—each describing the relationship between sound and the entities game system, player and virtual environment—many other issues are also addressed. Consequently, and in accordance with its purpose, this study provides a broad foundation for further research of sound in both audio games and video games.

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