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How to measure arousal effect of sound/music?

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Hi there,

I am currently working on my thesis project about the role of arousing sound on facilitating players' memory recall while they are playing an emergency training game. The idea comes from neurobiology evidence that arousing stimulus (sound, picture, film) is remembered better than neutral stimulus. I have found the criteria of arousing sound in literatures and are now trying to create one. However, I am still not sure on how to validate my sound that it indeed have an arousing effect. In this case, by arousing I meant an intense feeling/sense of urgency.
Have you, as sound designers/composers ever go through this process of validating your pieces to make sure that it creates an intended emotion/mood? And if it does, how do you do it?
Any feedback will be much appreciated. Thanks!

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Hi there,

I am currently working on my thesis project about the role of arousing sound on facilitating players' memory recall while they are playing an emergency training game. The idea comes from neurobiology evidence that arousing stimulus (sound, picture, film) is remembered better than neutral stimulus. I have found the criteria of arousing sound in literatures and are now trying to create one. However, I am still not sure on how to validate my sound that it indeed have an arousing effect. In this case, by arousing I meant an intense feeling/sense of urgency.
Have you, as sound designers/composers ever go through this process of validating your pieces to make sure that it creates an intended emotion/mood? And if it does, how do you do it?
Any feedback will be much appreciated. Thanks!


Well, we've performed playtesting to evaluate how a given chunk of a game impacts players but it's hardly scientific in the manner you're speaking. It's much more focused on:

1) was the player able to identify the goal(s) of the game in the playtest?

2) was the game too easy or too hard?

3) did the game create the needed mood?

But if you're writing a thesis then I'd imagine you'd need MUCH more scientific data to support your research - things like monitoring heartbeat and measuring pupils (if possible). None of that stuff was done in any of the playtests I took part in or in the reports I read.

When working for clients the evaluation of the music I submit is very subjective and usually comes down to I like this or I don't like this. I'm counting on the client to be able to objectively evaluate the music I submit and ensure it meets the overall project's vision and direction as well as promoting my own vision of how the audio fits within the game. Sometimes everything falls into place and sometimes a compromise or secondary meeting is needed to make sure we're both on the same track. But it's subjective in nature.

And in some ways I feel how music impacts players is also subjective. What works for some doesn't work for others, etc. I'm somewhat rambling but my point is I'm not sure many people have done the hardcore, scientific, data-driven tests on game audio like you're needed for your thesis. I'm certainly interested in what you find out! Please keep the forum posted. Best of luck!

Nate

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Sounds like you're after Biometrics - you should have a chat with the chaps from Vertical Slice (www.verticalslice.co.uk) - try chatting to @vsgr or @grmcall (Dr. Graham McAllister) on twitter - also @LinkYeah (Joel) and @totallygeek (Seb). They're pretty much the go-to guys for this kind of stuff - I think they're the only company in the world that offers biometric playtesting of clients games, and they've worked on some fairly major releases.

If you go ahead and chat to them keep me in the loop (I'm @jonnymartyr) as this is exactly the kind of stuff I'm interested in. It's a strange area where art meets science, and I'm not sure which side of the fence I sit on yet!


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You might have some luck with the Emotiv neural head set they have some metrics for "arousal"..


http://emotiv.com/

Good Luck!

-ddn

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Sounds like you're after Biometrics - you should have a chat with the chaps from Vertical Slice (www.verticalslice.co.uk) - try chatting to @vsgr or @grmcall (Dr. Graham McAllister) on twitter - also @LinkYeah (Joel) and @totallygeek (Seb). They're pretty much the go-to guys for this kind of stuff - I think they're the only company in the world that offers biometric playtesting of clients games, and they've worked on some fairly major releases.

If you go ahead and chat to them keep me in the loop (I'm @jonnymartyr) as this is exactly the kind of stuff I'm interested in. It's a strange area where art meets science, and I'm not sure which side of the fence I sit on yet!





My supervisor is not so keen on biometrics measurement because, according to her experience, it is difficult to conclude -to a certain degree of confidence- that the result will directly relates to the sound stimulus. She has come across this problem for too many times. For example, Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) results of a participant shows a spike on its signal. But when confirmed to the participant, turns out that was the moment when the participant realize he forgets to pick up her child at school. So, it is true that biometrics is pretty sensitive on measuring emotion, but there is too many extraneous variables that we can not control in an experiment, besides the intended stimulus.
Well, I guess this is exactly the issue that I would like very much to discuss with the guys from verticalslice. Thanks for pointing it out. Will keep you in the loop.
Have a good day!

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Well, we've performed playtesting to evaluate how a given chunk of a game impacts players but it's hardly scientific in the manner you're speaking. It's much more focused on:

1) was the player able to identify the goal(s) of the game in the playtest?

2) was the game too easy or too hard?

3) did the game create the needed mood?

But if you're writing a thesis then I'd imagine you'd need MUCH more scientific data to support your research - things like monitoring heartbeat and measuring pupils (if possible). None of that stuff was done in any of the playtests I took part in or in the reports I read.

When working for clients the evaluation of the music I submit is very subjective and usually comes down to I like this or I don't like this. I'm counting on the client to be able to objectively evaluate the music I submit and ensure it meets the overall project's vision and direction as well as promoting my own vision of how the audio fits within the game. Sometimes everything falls into place and sometimes a compromise or secondary meeting is needed to make sure we're both on the same track. But it's subjective in nature.

And in some ways I feel how music impacts players is also subjective. What works for some doesn't work for others, etc. I'm somewhat rambling but my point is I'm not sure many people have done the hardcore, scientific, data-driven tests on game audio like you're needed for your thesis. I'm certainly interested in what you find out! Please keep the forum posted. Best of luck!

Nate


Hi Nate,
Your explanation matches with what I have read so far in the neuroscience literatures, that basically there are two ways of measuring arousal/emotion: 1. Physiological which should be more objective, 2.Self Assessment which is subjective by nature. There is a scientific findings on measuring affective reaction using Self Assesment Manikin (SAM) which I think I will use for my thesis.
I agree with you that somehow sound/music impacts is highly subjective. However, after a long discussion with my supervisor, she convinced me that if a group of people shows a similar arousing tendency, it is enough to conclude that the sound is arousing. Probably in a couple of days I will post a survey link to ask this forum to asses my sound. Really hope to get feedbacks from all of you sound experts. As I am no expert at all.

Thanks for your explanation. Appreciated a lot!

Vicka

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