Paper presented at Digra 2007 conference in Tokyo, Japan.

Music video games are an old but small genre of games. The earliest direct ancestors emerged in the 1970ies. Some recent music video games were hugely successful. Until today, there are only a few different approaches to their design. The purpose of this article is to shed light on what these design principles are, and how the player is immersed. By analysing several games qualitatively, we extracted certain typical features of games of this genre: active scores, rhythm action, quantisation, synaesthesia, play as performance, free-form play, and sound agents. All these aspects of music video games are discussed in this paper with the aim of describing how they affect the interactivity of the games. The result is a grammar of the language of music video games. Linked to adequate metaphors, this grammar can build a veritable repository for rhythm based, melodically interactive games and digital electronic instruments.

Pichlmair, M. and Kayali, F. (2007) Levels of Sound: On the Principles of Interactivity in Music Video Games. Proceedings of the Digital Games Research Association 2007 Conference "Situated play". Tokyo. Accepted for publication.

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