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The Impact of Multichannel Game Audio on the Quality of Player Experience and In-game Performance

Rees-Jones, Joe (2018) The Impact of Multichannel Game Audio on the Quality of Player Experience and In-game Performance. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Multichannel audio is a term used in reference to a collection of techniques designed to present sound to a listener from all directions. This can be done either over a collection of loudspeakers surrounding the listener, or over a pair of headphones by virtualising sound sources at specific positions. The most popular commercial example is surround-sound, a technique whereby sounds that make up an auditory scene are divided among a defined group of audio channels and played back over an array of loudspeakers. Interactive video games are well suited to this kind of audio presentation, due to the way in which in-game sounds react dynamically to player actions. Employing multichannel game audio gives the potential of immersive and enveloping soundscapes whilst also adding possible tactical advantages. However, it is unclear as to whether these factors actually impact a player’s overall experience. There is a general consensus in the wider gaming community that surround-sound audio is beneficial for gameplay but there is very little academic work to back this up. It is therefore important to investigate empirically how players react to multichannel game audio, and hence the main motivation for this thesis. The aim was to find if a surround-sound system can outperform other systems with fewer audio channels (like mono and stereo). This was done by performing listening tests that assessed the perceived spatial sound quality and preferences towards some commonly used multichannel systems for game audio playback over both loudspeakers and headphones. There was also a focus on how multichannel audio might influence the success of a player in a game, based on their in-game score and their navigation within a virtual world. Results suggest that surround-sound game audio is preferable over more regularly used two-channel stereo systems, because it is perceived to have higher spatial sound quality and there is an improvement in player performance. This illustrates the potential for multichannel game audio as a tool to positively influence player experiences, a core goal many game designers strive to achieve.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Electronics (York)
Depositing User: Mr Joe Rees-Jones
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2019 14:00
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2019 14:00
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23687

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