NACVGM 2020 – “Currencies, Values, and Exchanges of Game Sounds”

From the Abstract

Pete Smucker (Stetson University)

“Currencies, Values, and Exchanges of Game Sounds”

Antonio Gramsci’s critique of Verdi’s operas “recognized that the popular classes picked up certain ‘melodramatic tones and attitudes’ with passion and sincerity, to the point that they became incorporated into the language” (Salvagni 2013, 264). Similar attitudes may be expressed today regarding the appropriation of video game sounds and music into mainstream media.  Brorowing from Gramsci’s concept of “hegemony” (Gramsci 1926; Ramos 1982), and Pierre Bourdieu’s cultural capital (1986), this paper examines game sounds in terms of currencies, values, and their effects on class.

I pose three questions in order to investigate these aspects.  First, how might game sounds acquire value within games or in real life? Second, can these sounds serve as a currency and be exchanged in some manner? Third, is there a way to compare and measure the relative worth of game sounds against each other during gameplay? In order to answer this final question, I develop the concept of “ludic value of game sound currencies.”

One example of this concept is in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011).  Link’s harp playing can have little ludic value during most of the game.  Certain moments, however, have increased value, such as when Link must pay off a debt musically, rather than with monetary currency of the game.  This and other examples demonstrate how games sounds might carry different types of values, either within a game or in real life, and potentially affect the relationship between the “gamer class” and other societal classes.

Source: Bardic Knowledge

Source: NACVGM

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