We’ve conducted a number of studies in games and interactive media to understand what people think about music and interactive media.
Our main goal was to get received opinion on current music solutions, to understand thoughts on interactive and adaptive music, to know what people might want in terms of these ideas and to look at how they see Melodrive as fitting in with these aspirations. We wanted to get at underlying issues such as: Are music solutions too limited and repetitive at present? Do people want to be involved and create music themselves? Does interactive music enhance interactive experiences and gaming? We put together a survey that asked questions focussing on these topics.
We submitted the survey to popular forums and social media, such as VR/gaming subreddits and Facebook groups. We gave attention to gamers and those interested in VR, such as players of Roblox (a game creation platform), and enthusiasts of social VR platforms, such as High Fidelity and VRChat.
We gathered lots of interesting data, much of which bodes well for the prospects of interactive and adaptive music. We compiled 179 respondents data from four demographics: Gamers + VR/AR users, Roblox gamers, and High Fidelity and VRChat communities.
Let’s look at the results a bit closer!
Users’ thoughts on music
It’s a simple point, but important to frame this research. Across all groups, most respondents (averaging 88%) thought that music adds a lot to the experience. They understood that music is an important component of games and interactive media, combining with other dimensions, such as visuals, sense of space, interaction with other agents, etc., to enhance the whole experience. However, the small remainder that did not agree should not be dismissed. While they may enjoy music, it’s more like they prefer an interactive experience without distraction, or to listen to ‘their own’ music from a different music streaming website. This is an important consideration and should be accounted for. Nevertheless, those that think that music contributes to an interactive experience are in an overwhelming majority, suggesting at the outset that we need to give the use of music in interactive experiences and gaming more attention.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, half of respondents reported being annoyed by looped music, where a track or section of a track is repeated over and over. This view is often qualified with comments about being bored by it, or that such music is not suitable for the changing online experience. Over half of listeners know what adaptive music is, hinting that they have knowledge of its benefits and might hold views about how it might be used.
Current music solutions
When we talk about current music solutions, we refer to how music is incorporated in the various systems of games and interactive media in general. It is clear from our data that people are unhappy about the present musical landscape. For a number of reasons. From the comments at the end of our surveys, they are concerned about lack of coherence, lack of interactivity or poor style choice. Sometimes, opinions about music simply rest on aesthetic judgements. Respondents are often dissatisfied with the music that’s on offer. And they want greater choice.
Opinions on interactive and adaptive music
When prompted with a definition of adaptive music (music that changes according to the events in a digital experience), more than half of participants (63%) chose the option that says that adaptive music is important for an interactive experience. This shows that users are probably aware of the benefit of the interaction between music and other media to enhance the overall interactive experience.
The vast majority of users (85%) agreed to ‘It’s important for the music to follow the visuals tightly’, and which was consistently agreed on by all sectors of the digital community. This affirms that music-visual coherence is important both for games and interactive genres to improve interactivity and immersion.
Users’ goals for interactive music
Roughly three quarters of participants agreed that they would like to create music for the interactive content they experience. The percentage was higher in the Roblox and High Fidelity sectors. This is understandable for the Roblox group, because many respondents probably do not just experience the content, they build it themselves in this game creation platform. It is only natural that they want close control over musical direction since virtually all other aspects are built from the bottom up.
Many users agreed that they would like to have unique music associated with their avatar and locations (64% average). This preference was strong within the High Fidelity community, perhaps because users who are active in a virtual world might seek ways to secure their identity. What better way than to have your own theme tune! It should be mentioned though that a small number of those in the interactive experience sector (specifically in VRChat) said in the comments section that they were worried that music could potentially disrupt communication. This is a significant point. Any music in an interactive experience must be appropriately managed to suit the experience and users.
Users and Melodrive
At the end of the surveys we introduced Melodrive and explained that it is an AI music engine that creates music in realtime, automatically. Melodrive uses deep adaptive music, where the music creation process can be controlled by user interaction, and the music changes its emotional state to match the interactive content. 90% of the respondents said they’d like to try Melodrive. We hope they weren’t just being polite! Also, across all groups, people said that they wanted to see Melodrive integrated into interactive experiences. Again, High Fidelity users were particularly keen, 100% of whom agreed with this statement.
We encourage all those interested to listen and provide feedback on our demos!
Takeaway lessons on users and music in interactive media
The broad picture on current music solutions is that they are deemed inadequate. This is often simply because the musical content is not good enough, or there is a lack of interactivity and interest, both between user and music and the experiential content and music.
Users want to have their hand in music creation. They want control over when music is integrated, what style is chosen, and perhaps, depending on their skill level and knowledge, the actual musical materials, such as arrangement and composition. Some just want to personalise their avatars with custom music that shows who they are, which is important in a digital world that is heavily pitched towards user-generated content.
Respondents from all sectors are eager to try out Melodrive. They can see the potential for it to be integrated into interactive experiences. This would be an important step, because Melodrive deals with all users’ reservations about interactive content and aspirations at once. Melodrive provides real-time, highly adaptive music for all occasions, no matter how generic or personalised. Melodrive generates interesting and original music and permits users and content providers to interact with the creative process.