~Proceedings ICMCISMCI2014 14-20 September 2014, Athens, Greece Computer Game Piece: Exploring Video Games as Means for Controlled Improvisation Dariusz Jackowski Francho Melendez CeTA Audiovisual Technology Centre dariusz.jackowski@gmail.com franchomelendez@gmail.com Andrzej Bauer The Fryderyk Chopin University of Music andrzejbauer@me.com Pawel Hendrich Cezary Duchnowski The Karol Lipiiski Academy of Music in Wroclaw pawel.hendrich@gmail.com cezary@duchnowski.pl ABSTRACT Video games provide an interesting framework of rules, actions, events, and user interaction for the exploration of music expression. In this paper we describe a set of computer games designed for group improvisation and controlled by playing musical instruments. The main contribution of our work is the two-way interaction between music and video games, as opposed to the more commonly explored one-way interaction. We investigate the different challenges involved, such as finding adequate game controlling events, provide enough expressive freedom to musicians, correct playing speed and game complexity, and different artistic expression forms. We also present the problems encountered, design considerations, and different proposed and tested solutions. The games developed in this project were used in a concert and a set of workshops. 1. INTRODUCTION The artistic exploration of novel means of musical expression is the first motivational element of our work. Games provide an interesting medium for music creation giving a set of controllable and uncontrollable events, rules, interaction, and visual support to engage the audience. This work explores the use of computer games as a framework for musical improvisation, a natural evolution of game pieces [1] where musicians control and play video games as they improvise music pieces. The main contribution of our work is the two-way interaction between music and video games, as opposed to the more commonly explored one-way interaction. In this paper we investigate different challenges involved in creating such framework, such as finding adequate game controlling events, provide enough expressive freedom to musicians, correct playing speed and complexity of the game, and different artistic expression forms. Section 3 present the problems encountered, design considerations, and the proposed and tested solutions. Our system was completely implemented and used in a performance as part of the cycle of improvisation concerts Copyright: 2014 Dariusz Jackowski et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. "Trans-Fuzja". It consists of four video-games where players are controlled by the musicians through their music performances. These games covered several types of interaction among players: collaborative (Mustetrix), competitivecollaborative (Pong), competitive without interaction between players (TreeStory), and competitive with interaction between players (Rip Switch). These games also cover a range of timing requirements. As described in detail in section 4, we found that both timing and the nature of the game have an important influence on the music produced, and need to be taken into consideration when designing this type of interaction. A second aspect of our work is educational. Presenting the creation of music through video games provide an attractive medium which audience, specially young audiences, can recognise and relate to. We believe that this field of work has the potential to ease the introduction of musical concepts to audiences that might not have apriori music interests. This aspect of the work will be further evaluated in future planned workshops as described in section 5. We are further developing the system to introduce more complex artistic interaction and to better use the system for educational purposes. 2. BACKGROUND AND PREVIOUS WORKS Computer games, as an audiovisual medium have been connected to music almost from the beginning. At first, this connection was limited to playing pre-composed music which was unaffected by the game state, except for different tunes connected to different game levels and tempo-synchronization, and sound effects as reaction to game events. Later, this relationship became more complex with two notable developments. The first one was the incorporation of generative music into the computer games. Some notable examples are iMuse, used in LucasArts games [2], "riffology" system used in Ballbrazer (more on that technique in [3]) and more recently in Rez. Also the sound effects started to have more musical meaning (for example, in aforementioned Rez). The second development is emergence of rhythm games and especially its music-based subgenre. Rhythm games are a subgenre of action games which requires players to take actions (most often to press the correct keys) at precise times, often according to the beat of underlying music. One of main types of those games are music video games such as Guitar Hero. These games started utiliz -88 -
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