The Social and Technical Anatomy of Digital Bodies
Edited By Jaime Banks
Chapter Six: Voice & Sound: Player Contributions to Speech (Hanna Wirman / Rhys Jones)
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Voice & Sound
Player Contributions to Speech
HANNA WIRMAN & RHYS JONES
Turning the sound off on your favorite game offers a peak into just how much information is conveyed via music, sound effects, narration, and spoken dialogue. Game soundtracks and character voice remixes continue to garner audiences, such as the Final Fantasy franchise’s (1987) translation into orchestral concerts and the Diablo franchise’s (1996) Blood Raven voice sample remixed by the dubstep artist Ephixa. To this point, we often recognize canonical game characters based on what they sound like: Pac-Man’s paku-paku-paku, Sonic’s successive pings when colliding with gold rings, or Ryu’s Hadouken! Avatars’ voices—the aural, spoken qualities of speech—and the other sounds they make (from pings and grunts to spell effects) are important components of how players engage avatars.
THE HIGH COST OF AVATAR SOUND
While story-based PC games are typically well-crafted and often unique in atmospheric sound, game avatars remain without much aural variety. Except a few rare cases (e.g., Saints Row: The Third, 2011), it is typical for customizable avatars to either be silent or limited to variations in only the pitch and tone of their grunting and attacking sounds (e.g., Dark Souls III, 2016). More frequently, voice qualities are pre-assigned based on avatar race and gender (e.g., World of Warcraft, 2004). Options are limited by design or due to technical constraints, since customizable avatar sounds require...
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