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Tatlow, Stephen. ‘Authenticity in Sound Design for Virtual Reality’. In History as Fantasy, edited by James Cook, Alexander Kolassa, Alex Robinson and Adam Whittaker. Abingdon: Routledge, forthcoming.
Virtual reality technology offers new opportunities for the creation of immersive historical experiences. With these new opportunities comes new problems. One potentially problematic aspect of immersion within virtual reality is authenticity: the user’s belief that the virtuality they perceive would exist in reality. This chapter examines challenges to authenticity within the sound design of virtual reality environments. These challenges emerge from technical considerations such as technological mediatisation of sound and practical considerations such as audience subjectivity. Drawing on research into sound design, sound technology, historical recreation and other related topics, possible ways to negotiate authenticity within virtual reality are suggested and reasonable expectations for authentic sound design in virtual reality are established.
Tatlow, Stephen. ‘Exploring issues in the categorisation of HME courses through FOI surveys of gender demographics in UK higher education institutions’. British Journal of Music Education, forthcoming.
A common conclusion drawn from publicly available Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data releases is that Higher Music Education (HME) courses have a predominantly male population. However, HESA data has key issues when examining HME courses: which courses are reported as ‘music’ courses to HESA; how do universities decide which courses are ‘music’ courses; how many different topics are contained within the umbrella of ‘music’ courses? To address questions of gender representation in HME, universities in the UK were approached with FOIA requests for the gender demographics of student populations on “music-related” courses.
Information was gained on 3456 courses populations between 2014 and 2020, which was categorised by subject of study. Six core undergraduate topics were identified: generic music degrees (female bias), degrees combining music and technology (male bias), degrees combining music and business (no gender bias), degrees on popular music (male bias), degrees combining music and theatre (female bias) and major conservatoire courses (no gender bias). No area was accurately represented by HESA data, and gender representation varied significantly between areas. These findings have implications for discussions of gender representation in HME across the UK.
Tatlow, Stephen. ‘Music and Narrative Experience in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn’. In The Music of Nobuo Uematsu in the Final Fantasy Series, edited by Richard Anatone, 206-235. Bristol: Intellect, 2022.
Collection abstract: Japanese musician and composer Nobuo Uematsu has built his career and reputation on his soundtracks to the enduring Final Fantasy video game series, which are notable for their remarkable cinematic feel. Today Uematsu is one of Japan’s most beloved living composers, credited with inspiring a new generation of classical music fans. This volume, the first book-length study of the music of Uematsu, takes a variety of different analytical approaches to his body of work. It offers readers interested in ludomusicology—the study of and research into video game music—a variety of ways with which to understand Uematsu’s compositional process and the role that video game music has in the overall gaming experience.
Stephen Tatlow's contribution can be found as Ch.8 of this collection.
Summers, Tim, James Cook, Will Famer, Elisa Raffaella Ferrè, Lucy Harrison, Rich Hemming, Andra Ivănescu, Luke Reed, Flossie Roberts, Richard Stevens, Stephen Tatlow, Laryssa Whittaker. ‘Music and Sound in Virtual/Augmented Realities—Questions, Challenges and Approaches: A Multidisciplinary Roundtable’. Journal of Sound and Music in Games 2, no. 2 (1 April 2021): 63–83. https://doi.org/10.1525/jsmg.2021.2.2.63.
The mid-to-late 2010s saw a renewed interest in virtual reality technologies with the release of a wide selection of consumer VR headsets and glasses, and the increased power of smartphones to provide augmented reality experiences. While research on sound and music in these technologies has started to gather pace, practice and research continue to grapple with significant creative and practical questions. In addition, such discussions have tended to be limited within disciplinary or professional silos. The roundtable presented here was an effort to begin conversations across a variety of fields of research and practice. We shared perspectives and exchanged views informed by different disciplinary traditions and experiences. We also sought to identify key questions and issues regarding music and sound in VR/AR. Three main themes are presented here: 1) Spaces and musical performances, 2) Realities and realism, and 3) Movement, orientation, and disorientation.
Tatlow, Stephen. ‘Everyone in Space Wants to Hear You Scream: Toward a Framework for Understanding Player Voice in Virtual Worlds’. Journal of Sound and Music in Games 1, no. 3 (1 July 2020): 15–34. https://doi.org/10.1525/jsmg.2020.1.3.15.
When considering player voice in the context of game sound, existing examinations remain inconclusive. As player voice exists in a liminal position between reality and virtuality, some academics see them as sonic violations of the game space. Voice can convey information about identity, which may oppose our understanding of the avatars within the game world. Voice can facilitate social communication, which may remind us of the physical world outside the virtuality. Mediations of voice into the virtual world may introduce obstacles or inflections that interfere with our enjoyment of the virtual space. Alongside these concerns, however, we can also find virtual worlds that prioritize and privilege player voice. Player voice can become part of character identity. Gameworlds can encourage us to communicate ludically, without disrupting immersion. Interruptions and disruptions can be limited by players.
Amongst others, the virtual world of the long-running MMORPG EVE Online demonstrates how voice can coexist with immersion. Marketing materials for the game now place player voice at the center of consumer focus. Including an interview with one of the videographers who placed player voice at the center of his fan videos, the article uses EVE Online as a case study for the integration of player voice into virtual worlds.
By examining virtual worlds and the role of voice within them, this article develops a framework for understanding player voice in the context of game sound. This allows us to recognize how player voice, an often overlooked aspect of game sound, can function within virtual worlds.