Collection: Gareth Lawlor ICA

Gareth Lawlor ICA


Environmental Modeller and Sound Effects Composer

Gareth Lawlor


Research Area

How mood is impacted by sounds in games 


Research Question

How can I impact the mood of the player to reflect the desired mood of the game using sound?

How does music impact the player’s mood?

Does music improve a player’s mood in games?

How does music improve a player's mood in games?

How does music impact a player's mood in games?

How does non-diegetic sound impact a player’s mood and how to create immersion using diegetic sounds?

Research Area Description

I want to investigate how non-diegetic sounds have an impact on the player's emotions, to make them feel sadder or else happier. This can be very important in many games as it sets the mood of the overall game and can create empathy and other feeling with the character. I want to find out in particular what the different genres of music brews up what particular feelings. The genre, tempo, notes and instrument will play a huge role in discovering what makes the music brew emotions up in the sounds. I will also briefly investigate whether the sounds can actually do this by using some journal references and a user test of my own devise. 

As a quote from states  "Little research, however, has studied the direct relationship between low-level, structural properties of in-store music and outcome variables. Milliman’s (1982) seminal work examining the effects of a structural property— tempo— of musical selections on supermarket shoppers’ behaviours— spending— unfortunately did not stimulate large stream of follow-up research. In fact, to our knowledge, there is no published work to date examining the combined impact of more than one structural property omusic on consumer responses in a realistic field setting. This dearth of research represents a gaping our understanding, often leaving those designingandselecting environmental music reliant on little mothan partially informedguesswork with regard to music’s structural properties. ", this just shows how little is really known about the subject matter about making music that can emotionally impacts the listener and why this subject area is essential for the gaming industry to investigate

What I Plan On Doing

I plan on researching which specific music affects the person in different ways. the paper by Philips, the electronic company, Music directs your mood, by Marjolein D. van der Zwaag, Eindhoven: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 2012 – Proefschrift, I have found indicates a few types of music that affects the listener in numerous different ways, for example, sombre music makes the player more emotional, a game with a great example of this is the Walking Dead Game, where at the end the music makes the events much sadder than it is. I want to do the same, make the audience playing our game Overcome to feel to feel a certain way, using the music I compose for the game, a steady progression of sadness to elation, as the player continues through the dream, this will also be reflected in the art and design of the game too. The sounds in the game will gradually change also depending on what area you are in. The other areas I plan on investigating are the genres of the music, the instruments effect on the tone, the tempos effect and whether it actually does have an effect on the player or not using a user test.


Many of the areas I will be investigating will be very subjunctive, many has not been fully proven, It will also have many aspects to do with psychology which will be a challenge to get done in the small space we were given to research but I have found a few papers where studies have been occurring where some of the facts are proven and many are acknowledged as being true based on the findings in these studies. The Journal in Music directs your mood, by Marjolein D. van der Zwaag, Eindhoven: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 2012 – Proefschrift, uses a similar experiment to the one that I was planning, which is getting people to listen to music while doing general tasks, like washing up, and seeing how they feel after. Depending on the type of music they listened to they either felt happier or sadder, therefore proving that sound had an effect on their mood.  


The area I am researching is a pretty unchartered area for gaming. People have generally not discovered how important sound is to mood in games, and the games that have are the industry’s leading titles, such as The Last of Us, they use emotions to generate empathy between the users and the characters. That is what I am trying to discover, how this is possible to create sounds for a game that can evoke the right emotions that are needed for a particular part of the game. I will be investigating general music, and not gaming music to see and understand what techniques the music industry uses when applying emotion to its sounds and what do movies do to get that one good sounds that bring emotion to the forefront. To understand what tempo and genre direction we need to take to get the emotions that we want to portray in the game across and make the player and the charter empathise with each other.

Relevance To Game Concept

The relevance to the game concept with my research area is a bare key essential item in the game, the sounds need to be crucial in this game we are designing and that the music must reflect the mood of the level. The music will be reflecting on the mood of the player, this will hopefully create empathy with the character and the player. If this is achieved, I believe it will give the game an added layer of depth, and make the players realise what’s important in the case of a depressed person, how that person feels and just show them how awful it is and maybe coax them into helping someone they know that maybe, resembles the characters attitude.