A Prototype Ludomusicological Database

GameSound is a prototype database that reveals the music and sound effects present within video games in an effort to facilitate academic study. Using an interdisciplinary approach for categorization and display, GameSound allows online access to a meaningful dataset of technical and musicological data using dynamic search capabilities. Our goal is to develop GameSound into an indispensable resource for game scholars, ludomusicologists, and independent researchers.

What Is Ludomusicology?

Ludomusicology is an emerging sub-discipline of musicology that focuses on the academic study of the audio experienced in video games. Ludomusicology is interdisciplinary: fostering collaborations with, computer science, film, media studies, and communications. Our goal is to foster further growth in the field through the development of an online database that provides scholars with accessible tools to explore new research methodologies, such as integrated technical analysis and data analytics. GameSound includes both technical and musicological data, and features a growing collection of audio files, video clips, and gameplay screenshots.

Initial Dataset

GameSound’s initial dataset consists of 2178 audio files sourced from a Windows installation of Civilization IV. Using the metadata software MediaInfo we have automated the extraction of technical information with a high degree of accuracy. File durations are represented in a HH:MM.DDD format and range from a miniscule 00:00.010 to an enormous 21:28.280 in length. File sizes are precisely measured using Mebibytes (MiB) and range from 0.0003 MiB to 19.6574 MiB.

Civilization IV is an ideal pilot study for our prototype because of its open programming architecture. Developers have enabled transparent access to the game’s assets, making both data extraction and interpretation simpler than in comparable titles. Furthermore, Civilization IV was the first computer game to be nominated for (and win) a Grammy, granting it a special place in the history of ludomusicology and affirming its cultural significance.

Project Status

GameSound is an iterative work, meant to explore the ongoing technical challenges ludomusicologists face (data accessibility, lack of established standards, etc.) whilst studying video games and how these may be addressed using our database tool. Through presentations at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Regina and the McGill Music Graduate Students’ Society Symposium, we hope to engage with a diverse range of academics, opening a constructive and collaborative dialogue for the further development of our database tool and more broadly, for data analytics in the musicological field as a whole.