Queen's University Logo

Special Issue: The Soundtrack

Special Issue Call for Papers:

Musical Disruptions in Video Games

Guest editor: Dr. Stephanie Lind (Queen’s University)

Deadline for submission:  15 March 2019

While music in many video games is often designed to seamlessly embed into the player’s experience, thus contributing to immersion, in some games music functions instead as a disruption, interrupting the gameplay experience.

For example, in rhythm games such as Guitar Hero, these disruptions function as cues to the player about their progress through a level game; a failed level means that the audio is cut (literally disrupted).  But in subtler cases, musical disruptions may function as anachronisms, or as dramatic contrast meant to emotionally engage the player. For example, in Assassin’s Creed, electronically-distorted music and sounds are a reminder to the player that their character is a modern-day victim transported virtually to the past through memory.  In Battlefield 1’s ‘Flight of the Pigeon’, a shift of orchestration from percussion-heavy, low-register brass and strings to a higher-register piano is a dramatic contrast that highlights the shift from human to bird perspective, disengaging the player from the heavy emotional impact of battle to a spacious, uplifting moment of freedom.  

These musical disruptions can signal elements of narrative, of success versus failure in gameplay, of changes in perspective and more.  As a result, these disruptions are a key element of the game experience, contributing not only to the narrative of the game but also to its emotional impact on the player.

We seek a range of work on the topic of musical disruption in video games incorporating musical and/or interdisciplinary perspectives, including but not limited to: musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory/analysis, communication/media studies, cultural studies, sound studies and cognition studies.  Questions about the suitability of a possible proposal are encouraged and may be sent to the e-mail listed below before the deadline.

All articles submitted should be original work and must not be under consideration by other publications.  Emerging scholars are encouraged to apply and, if accepted, will be given an opportunity for early feedback in the writing process.

Please send expressions of interest of approximately 500 words to gamemusicqueens@gmail.com or stephanie.lind@queensu.ca by 15 March 2019.  Authors will be notified by 15 April 2019 regarding whether they will be invited to submit a full article based on their expression of interest.

Full articles should be 6000–8000 words in length.  Completed articles will be due by 30 July 2019. Final acceptance will be subject to blind peer review.