The Acoustic Ecology of the First-Person Shooter


PhD thesis, University of Waikato, New Zealand.
Examined and accepted without revisions by Theo van Leeuwen (University of Technology, Sydney) and Matteo Bittanti (University of Stanford).
Supervisors:  Sean Cubitt, Craig Hight, Gareth Schott and Bevin Yeatman.
(Published as: Grimshaw, M. (2008). The Acoustic Ecology of the First-Person Shooter: The Player, Sound and Immersion in the First-Person Shooter Computer Game. Saarbr├╝cken: VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller e.K. ISBN: 3639024087).


This thesis contributes to the field of Game Studies by presenting the hypothesis that the player(s) and soundscape(s) in the first-person shooter (FPS) game, and the relationships between them, may be construed as an acoustic ecology. It explores the idea that the single-player FPS game acoustic ecology has the basic components of player and soundscape and that the relationships between these two lead to the creation and perception of a variety of spaces within the game world constituting a significant contributing factor to player immersion in that world. Additionally, in a multiplayer FPS game, these individual acoustic ecologies form part of a larger acoustic ecology which may be explained through autopoietic principles.

There has been little written on digital game sound (much less on FPS game sound) and so the research contained within this thesis is an important contribution to the Game Studies field. Furthermore, the elaboration of the hypothesis provides insight into the role of sound in the perception of a variety of spaces in the FPS game, and player immersion in those spaces, and this has significance not only for Game Studies but also for other disciplines such as virtual environment design and the study of real-world acoustic ecologies.

A text-based methodology is employed in which literature from a range of disciplines is researched for concepts relevant to the hypothesis but, where necessary, new concepts will be devised. The aim of the methodology is to construct a conceptual framework which is used to explicate the hypothesis and which may, with future refinement, be used for the study of sound in digital game genres other than FPS.

Suggested citation:

Grimshaw, Mark. (2007). The acoustic ecology of the first-person shooter. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Waikato, New Zealand.