Monday, July 26, 2010

ASMR and Video Games: Part I

I’ve seen videos off of YouTube posted on the ASMR Group’s wall on Facebook which showed certain video game trailers and so on that likely triggered ASMR for the viewer who recommended it.

This led me to think about games that I’ve played in the past that may have created this sort of sensation. Now, as my profile on the ASMR Research& Support website would suggest, I like to play the odd video game from time to time. I mean, who doesn’t nowadays? It’s become a huge industry, with much more progress to make over the years to come according to some.

I not only do it  to relax and unwind, but also because I have a fascination with sound and music in video games. I’ve had this for as long as I can remember, and I’ve collected sound libraries that would span many gigabytes, all stashed on CDS, DVDs, and on my hard drive too.

So this is quite fortunate, as I can therefore go through all of them, (or some of them anyway – too many!), and listen to some of the sounds which I felt triggered ASMR for me at one point while playing certain games. Not all of them trigger it for me, but some might, and in the past I might not have even been that aware that it was happening at the time. This creates a bit of a problem as it means I might not have any examples to write of.

But I can think of a few maybe off the top of my head.

Garrett One would probably be the Thief series. Anybody who’s into games, and may have played Thief: The Dark Project, Thief II: The Metal Age, or Thief: Deadly Shadows, knows that the series is well known for not only it’s reliance on stealth tactics in the game to survive, but also sound. Whether it’s eavesdropping on conversations, watching out for footsteps coming down corridors, or just listening to the ambient sounds and music, it’s a series of games that I’ve loved for many years, and spent quite a bit of time searching for the sounds from those games.

The files that are on the games’ CDs can usually be opened up with a program like Dragon Unpacker, which I’ve used numerous times over the years. It has support for many different file types. But as for TDP, I’ve had to resort to the internet seeing as my CD doesn’t work anymore.

And as I listen to the sounds in my collection, I’m not surprised that not only is the sound in these games quite superb, as I’ve known for some time, but also triggers off the sensation for me at times, especially when listening to some of the characters, like the fences in Thief: Deadly Shadows, or even the sly anti-hero protagonist, Garrett. He has quite a soft spoken voice, and tends to talk under his breath at points. This is likely a few of the reasons why I’ve replayed these titles so many times.

Another example might be System Shock 2. It was co-developed along with Irrational Games by the same studio that made Thief - Looking Glass Studios - which went under nigh on ten years ago.

SHODAN For this reason, it shares a number of voice actors from said series – except this time, most of the voices that you’ll hear in the game are those recorded on audio logs. I can still recall reaching the last bit of the game years ago and sitting there with my headphones on just listening to all of the logs, messages,  e-mails and so on.

I guess more recent examples might include BioShock 1& 2, which are essentially spiritual successors to the System Shock series, as they too were developed by Irrational, which is still around to this day, although it went under a name change at one point before eventually reverting back to its original. These titles, much like SS, had audio which could be found on records that were strewn around the games.

I don’t want to say that every game triggers ASMR for me, because it isn’t true, but generally games with high quality sound and voice acting, along with a fair share of dialogue to go with it, would be more likely candidates to pull it off. And even then, only a select handful of the characters’ voices in those games would achieve any sort of reaction.

Mainly they are soft-spoken, whispering, or those with a slow, methodical way of talking – and this is exactly the sort of voice we all look for when it comes to this wonderful sensation, when we want to trigger it off.

This is the first in a series of posts as regards ASMR triggers encountered in video games. Stay tuned for more to come!

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