Expression vs Engagement

In the video above Eran Egozy of Harmonix Music, makers of guitar hero, describe how they have always pushed towards a goal of everyone being able to enjoy the expression of music. Egozy presents previous works, and describes nature of game interaction in musical games. The key takeaway of this presentation is the concept of balancing expression and engagement in musical games. Through the iterative development within their games various approaches have been tested in the field, and this presentation serves as a review of their strengths and weaknesses in the context of expression. Egozy poses the question of whether expression can exist in a game environment at all, as no agency is given for creative deviation from the mind of the user. Contrary to this statement Ergozy’s mission statement is to provide levels of musical engagement to anyone, musically proficient or not. Many of the systems deployed work through sophisticated audio and visual feedback that allows development of a game dynamic. In some game platforms levels of virtuosity have been allowed but have received mixed success. In other games no expression was present but large levels of player engagement and flow were observed. In their most recent game development, Fantasia Music Evolved, a balance is said to be struck between game engagement and expressive affordances. By including interactive music content and unique musical variations this game excels in both game and music contexts, while simultaneously supporting one of the most important concepts in game immersion, narcissism, as exemplified by the lasting level of inclusion in the game. An example of the game being played is shown below, albeit a little impaired…

Roli Seaboard Grand

Just in case you haven’t seen it, its awesome. Part of the new breed of expressive musical controllers that allow new dimensions of expression in electronic music. The company based in Dalston, London are pushing forward with beautifully designed products that don’t compromise on key functionality. Go visit their products page for a better look!

The continuous pitch control mechanism allows a performer to introduce musical “systematic deviations”. These deviations are the things missing from standard electronic music controllers unless all kinds of other controllerism is exploited. This simple yet elegant approach can be used to faithfully recreate original acoustic instruments or explore new depths by providing tactile micro control to an array of synthesis parameters. Plus its got squishy keys which is always nice.