Effects of Background Music on Risk-Taking and General Player Experience

Katja Rogers, Matthias Jörg, Michael Weber,
Ulm University

Gustavo Tondello
Sep 30 · 2 min read

Music affects our emotions and behaviour in real life, yet despite its prevalence in games, we have a limited understanding of how it could be used to influence player experience and behaviour in games. In this work, we investigated whether we can affect players’ risk-taking behaviour through the presence and attributes of background music. We built a game that explores risk behaviour by repeatedly giving players the choice between a safe but less rewarding course, and a risky but potentially more rewarding course.

In a user study with 60 participants, we explored the impact of music presence and characteristics (tempo and arousal) on players’ in-game risk behaviour and overall player experience. We found that players in the first playthrough — when they had little or no prior knowledge of the game — were more likely to choose the risky level when there was no music present.

Further, slow, activating music was best to facilitate player immersion, while less activating music yielded better performance and higher experienced mastery.

Based on these findings, we discuss implications for game design and future research directions.


Contact author: Katja Rogers

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Dissecting the player experience
Thursday, 24 October 2019, 9:00–10:30

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Gustavo Tondello

Written by

Instructional support coordinator, University of Waterloo. Researcher, HCI Games Group. Logosophy student.

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