In the age of participatory and convergence paradigms, video game music has its own networked culture with cybercommunities that discuss, share, and create content, thus opening up a creative space for artistic activities in a constant digital flow. Music composition and production is one of these activities, with files made available on several platforms such as SoundCloud and YouTube, specifically in the format of modification files (or mods). Building on research for a master’s dissertation, this article examines a new model of online artistic production in the form of the circulation of musical mods that were composed and shared on the Nexus Mods platform for the The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim video games. These mods add new musical material that is similar to the existing soundtrack of both titles, but the majority of the files in this platform’s audio category are related only to sounds, not to musical composition. By using titles such as “better sounds” or “immersive sounds” to describe their additions, many modders aim to give other gamers a more immersive experience in the game(s). In this case, immersive relates not only to the musical style and sound quality of the aural effects but also a plausible construction of the reality in which the gamers live, play, and negotiate meaning relating to their own social context. Intersecting “playbour,” fandom, aural immersion, and audiovisual literacy, these audio modders work on adding new layers to the soundscapes and environments of the virtual worlds presented in the two games. The modders regard immersion as a key aspect of design and playability, and they contribute audio material to enable their social capital and visibility on online platforms.
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Research Article| April 01 2021
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Joana Freitas; Kill the Orchestra: On Music, Mods, and Immersion in The Elder Scrolls on the Nexus Mods Platform. Journal of Sound and Music in Games 1 April 2021; 2 (2): 22–41. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jsmg.2021.2.2.22
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