A Review of Karen Collins's Playing with Sound: A Theory of Interacting with Sound and Music in Video Games

  • Heyden Jennekens University of Guelph


Playing with Sound, by Karen Collins, is an exploration of the interactions between the sonic layer of video games and the player. The scholarly monograph is organized into five chapters, and speaks to gamers, philosophers, and psychologists. The text approaches the subject matter as more than just a question of sound and a listener, but rather as a question of sound and a partner. The partner (or player) uses the interactive sound in video games to find, create, obscure, and elicit meaning. Within the sonic layer of video games exist many types of sound, such as ambience, reverberations, responses in both language and action, sound effects, interface sounds and, of course, music. These elements can exist both inside and outside of the game. Collins explores video game sound as an experience and does so while adopting the perspective of the player and incorporating insights from disciplines as varied as philosophy, psychology, computer science, and film studies.