Announcement: New JSMG Editors-in-Chief

Our editorial team for JSMG has now completed work on the last issues of Volume 3, and with that, we reach the end of a critical milestone in the journal’s history. Under the leadership of Professor Stephen Baysted, the journal has been well established as a high-quality publication with diverse authorship and growing readership. At our recent annual editorial board meeting, we were pleased to review data pointing to strong growth in downloads and views. Launching journals has never been easy, and especially in relatively small research domains. With Stephen’s guidance, a lot of hard work from the editorial team and our partners at the University of California Press, and the support of the whole editorial board, JSMG has established a strong foundation. The journal was nominated for a G.A.N.G award last year, is highly regarded as a successful new launch publication in the broader research community, and has also recently been approved for indexing by SCOPUS – an endorsement of its quality and vitality. Stephen is now stepping down as Editor-in-Chief, although he will remain on the Editorial Board to continue to guide the journal, with a particular focus on continuing to develop the journal’s connections with industry professionals. We are tremendously grateful to him for the important role he has played in launching JSMG and establishing such a diverse and quality research publication.

We are delighted to announce that Dr Elizabeth Medina-Gray and Dr Timothy Summers will succeed Stephen as co-Editors-in-Chief for JSMG effective for Volume 4. Elizabeth and Tim have been critical to the journal’s success, and the supportive work they do with authors has been especially welcome and valued. We will continue to promote diversity and inclusion, and seek to further improve access to the journal as it continues to grow its impact.

To further these goals, we are also pleased to announce that we are seeking an addition to the editorial team, joining Elizabeth, Tim, and Dr Jennifer Smith, our Reviews Editor. We are now recruiting a new Development Editor to help increase the journal’s engagement with new topics, disciplines and audiences. This is a senior position, and an exciting opportunity to significantly shape the direction of the journal and inform the work of SSSMG on a wide-ranging and strategic level. Further particulars are available in the job advert here (please feel free to circulate.)

New Affiliation with GAiN

GAiN logo

We are pleased to announce a new affiliation between the Society for the Study of Sound and Music in Games (SSSMG) and Game Audio in Norway (GAiN,, further expanding our existing partnerships with regional organizations dedicated to sound and music in games.

We are delighted to be affiliated with GAiN and to be associated with their efforts to support industry professionals in Norway and beyond! The SSSMG’s mission is to support the development of sophisticated understandings of sound and music in video games from any and all perspectives, and we’re always excited to be able to collaborate with diverse groups of scholars and practitioners from all over the world. GAiN’s mission is highly complementary to our own, and we look forward to opportunities to further develop this partnership.

Mark Sweeney

Executive Director

Society for the Study of Sound and Music in Games

The Journal of Sound and Music in Games: Call for Papers

Intersections Between Game Music and Electronic Dance Music

The Journal of Sound and Music in Games <> invites contributions to its first special issue, in which stylistic and cultural intersections will be explored between game music and electronic dance music.

With electronic dance music, we refer to musical styles that are produced and developed by and for DJs and their dancefloors at clubs, raves and festivals (Rietveld, 2018). Game music is understood here as the soundtrack to interactive digital video and arcade games, in which the musical outcome exists in a dynamic relationship with the game play. Such nonlinearity may also be identified in how the dance DJ interacts with the dancefloor, selecting a set from a range of musical recordings.

Like game music, electronic dance music internally consists of loop-based musemes, encouraged by the affordances of digital audio workstations (DAWs) that are available for personal computers (Austin, 2016). Embraced for digital gaming in Europe, affordable home computing also offered access to electronic dance music production as Weinel (2018) observes in the context of rave culture. In addition, Gallagher (2017: 13) notes that grime (a genre that shares its genealogy with electronic dance music) “has always had strong ties to gaming, from producers who cut their compositional teeth on Mario Paint (Nintendo R&D1, 1992) to MCs who incorporate videogame references into their lyrics, album titles and aliases.” Not only at home, but also outdoors it is possible to identify cultural points of connection between game and dance cultures. Due to age-related licencing parameters in many parts of the world, game arcades are more accessible to younger participants than dance clubs; for some, games may well offer a first encounter with electronic dance music.

In this context, we wish to investigate how game music and electronic dance music developed not only in parallel worlds but also in tandem. The intersections between game and dance music cultures are manifold, including homage and reference to game sounds and culture in electronic dance music; commonalities in composition and production technologies; as well as references to electronic dance music and its concomitant cultures in music and dance games.

We invite proposals for research articles on game music and electronic dance music, which will be double-blind peer-reviewed and published as a special issue of the Journal of Sound and Music in Games. We also welcome proposals for other kinds of materials, which should be discussed with the editors in the first instance.

Themes can include:

  • Influences of game music techniques on dance music production techniques
  • Relationships between game culture and electronic dance music culture, in terms of design, sound, music techniques
  • Game cultural references in electronic dance music
  • Games that employ electronic dance music
  • References to electronic dance music culture in game design
  • Uses of electronic dance music as core game element
  • Dance music, identity, and games

Submit proposals to by 3 September 2021, including a 300-word abstract, supported by a provisional bibliography, and a 150-word author biography.

Successful authors will be invited to submit full articles (c. 7,000 words) for double-blind peer-review by 10 April 2022.

For further information, please contact the Guest Editors, Dr Melanie Fritsch and Prof Hillegonda C Rietveld, at


  • Austin, M (2016) Sample, Cycle, Sync: The Music Sequencer and Its Influence on Music Video Games. Austin, M. (Ed) Music Video Games: Performance, Politics, and Play. New York & London: Bloomsbury. 107-124
  • Gallagher, R. (2017) “All the Other Players Want to Look at My Pad”: Grime, Gaming, and Digital Identity. GAME: The Italian Journal of Game Studies. 6/1. 13-29
  • Rietveld, H.C. (2018) Dancing in the Technoculture. Emmerson, S. (Ed) The Routledge Research Companion to Electronic Music: Reaching Out with Technology. New York NY & London: Routledge. 113-134
  • Weinel, J. (2018) Inner Sound: Altered States of Consciousness in Electronic Music and Audio-Visual Media. New York NY: Oxford UP.

Journal of Sound and Music in Games seeks a Reviews Editor

The Journal of Sound and Music in Games (JSMG) is seeking a Reviews Editor. The Reviews Editor is a voluntary position on the JSMG Editorial Board, and responsibilities include:

  • Identifying recent books and other material for review.
  • Contacting potential contributors to solicit reviews of particular material, and respond to potential contributors who contact the journal wishing to write a review.
  • Contacting publishers to request review copies of books and other material.
  • Receiving and editing submitted reviews.
  • Contacting authors of reviewed material to ask if they would like to respond to the review; receive and edit subsequent responses.
  • Coordinating with the Associate Editors and Editor-in-Chief to prepare reviews and responses for each quarterly issue of the journal.
  • Ensuring a diversity of voices and perspectives in the reviews section of the Journal.
  • Representing the Journal at conferences/other events, and participate in editorial meetings to contribute to the development of the Journal.

Position Requirements

  • University education (or significant experience dealing with scholarly materials), ideally in a broadly relevant subject area.
  • Excellent working knowledge of the field of scholarship.
  • Very good English language proficiency.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with authors in order to produce timely delivery of materials.
  • Ability to navigate delicate situations and communicate with authors diplomatically. 
  • An understanding of the tone appropriate for review in an academic journal.

Professional editing experience is not required for this position.

We welcome expressions of interest to the editors ( in this post by 31st July 2021.

JSMG 1:1 Published

We hope everyone is already aware of the publication of the first issue of the Journal of Sound and Music in Games, and wanted to formally post our gratitude to the editorial team, authors, peer reviewers and staff at the University of California Press for all their hard work in bringing this excellent inaugural issue to fruition.

With the ongoing and widespread impact of Covid-19 affecting all walks of life, UCP have extended the free trial period through to the end of June so please do take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy reading the journal!

In other news, despite the disappointment of having both NACVGM and Ludo 2020 in-person conferences cancelled this year due to the pandemic, SSSMG have recently finalized a formal Code of Conduct policy that has not only been adopted by the two conference committees, but also now applies to all society members and covers online as well as in-person conduct.

The Executive Committee wish all members and the wider community our best wishes during these challenging times.

JSMG Accepting Submissions

We are pleased to announce that JSMG is now accepting submissions. While we finalize the configuration of our peer-review management system with our publisher, we will temporarily accept submissions via email. Please feel free to get in touch with the Editors if you have any queries. More information about the vision for the initial issue will be shared in due course.

See here for instructions.

SSSMG partners with University of California Press to launch Journal of Sound and Music in Games

The Society for the Study of Sound and Music in Games is pleased to announce the launch of the Journal of Sound and Music in Games (JSMG), to be published in partnership with the University of California Press (UC Press).

JSMG will be an academic peer-reviewed journal presenting high-quality research on video game music and sound. The journal will be an outward-looking publication that seeks to engage game audio practitioners and researchers from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, computer science, media studies, psychology and sociology, as well as musicology.

“With their strong pedigree in these fields, we are delighted to be partnering with UC Press for the launch of our journal”, said Mark Sweeney, Executive Director of the SSSMG. “We are grateful to SSSMG for this wonderful opportunity to work with them on developing and launching the Journal of Sound and Music in Games, which serves a unique, diverse, and growing area of scholarship and practice”, said David Famiano, Journals Publisher at UC Press.

The new journal features a world-class editorial board, led by Editor-in-Chief Professor Stephen Baysted. “Scholarly research in what has, until very recently, been considered an embryonic field of enquiry has grown exponentially in the past decade and a half and so today our discipline comes of age with the launch of the world’s first journal dedicated to the study of sound and music in games.”  said Professor Baysted. “We are especially delighted to be working with the University of California Press whose vision and aims for this project are entirely aligned with our own.”

JSMG welcomes contributions from academics and industry professionals and aims to publish research from across the disciplinary spectrum. More information will be shared through the SSSMG website in due course.



SSSMG was founded in 2016 to bring together the emerging community devoted to the study of sound and music in games. The Society is a not-for-profit organization for members who primarily identify themselves as academic and professionals working in the video game audio industry.

Press Contact: Mark Sweeney, Executive Director, SSSMG | Email: | Society for the Study of Sound and Music in Games, University of Chichester, Bognor Regis Campus, Upper Bognor Road, Bognor Regis, PO21 1HR, United Kingdom


About University of California Press

University of California Press is one of the most forward-thinking scholarly publishers in the nation. For more than 120 years, it has championed work that influences public discourse and challenges the status quo in multiple fields of study. At a time of dramatic change for publishing and scholarship, UC Press collaborates with scholars, librarians, authors, and students to stay ahead of today’s knowledge demands and shape the future of publishing.

Press Contact: Peter Perez, Director, Public Relations & Communications, UC Press | +1 (510) 883-8318 | Email: | 155 Grand Avenue, Suite 400 | Oakland, California 94612-3758


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SSSMG Executive Committee Appointments & Journal Announcement

We are delighted to announce that the SSSMG Board has formally appointed its Executive Committee. The Committee has been very busy over the past few months on a new project that is at the heart of the Society’s mission, and we are therefore pleased to finally share with the community that the SSSMG intends to launch a new journal entitled the Journal of Sound & Music in Games (JSMG).

JSMG will be an academic peer-reviewed journal presenting high-quality research on video game music and sound. The journal will not seal game audio into a scholarly suburb, but will instead be an outward-looking publication that seeks to engage game audio practitioners and researchers from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, computer science, media studies, psychology and sociology, as well as musicology. After consultation with leading academics in the field over the past several years, SSSMG believe that there is demand for such a journal, and such a publication is necessary for the evolution of research.

After completing a rigorous selection process, we are especially excited to announce that Professor Stephen Baysted has been appointed as the inaugural Editor-in-chief of JSMG. Professor Baysted will work closely with Dr Elizabeth Medina-Gray and Dr Timothy Summers who have accepted roles as Associate Editors, and this team will be supported by the Editorial Board, who simultaneously comprise the SSSMG Board.

We’re thrilled to have such a strong editorial team in place to launch JSMG, and look forward to sharing more information on our plans as things progress.

SSSMG Executive Committee

Michael L. Austin, Secretary
Stephen Baysted, Editor-in-chief
Karen M. Cook
Melanie Fritsch, Communications Officer
William Gibbons
Elizabeth Medina-Gray, Associate Editor
Timothy Summers, Associate Editor
Mark Sweeney, Director

SSSMG Website Updates

Following Ludo2017, we’re pleased to announce some minor updates to the website that we hope members will find fun & useful:

  • Gaming ID handles – members can now share their Steam/PSN/Xbox/Other IDs on their profiles to better facilitate… international research collaboration! Please do feel free to join me in some Portal 2 Co-op (other games are available).
  • Enhanced gamification – members may have noticed that from the outset, they accrue activity points for engaging with the community via the website. We have done some ‘balancing’, added more ways to gain points, and have in place a badge system to further encourage engagement! If anybody would like to volunteer to work with me on creating a range of fun ludo-punning achievement badges for SSSMG members, please get in touch at Some basic graphic design skills would be particularly useful.

Update your profiles and let the virtual networking commence!

Bibliography reflections

A video game audio bibliography was originally set up on the Ludomusicology research group website. With the launch of SSSMG as a platform for the game audio research community came the idea of moving the bibliography to this website and to allow members to contribute suggestions. (For the time being, we will continue to maintain a duplicate of the SSSMG bibliography on the old website for accessibility and bookmarks.) Throughout this year, we have been working on a big update to the bibliography for the launch of this website, which has prompted me to make a few observations in the form of this blog post—the first in what we hope will be a series for the society.

Before jumping into a discussion of the bibliography proper and what it may reveal about the field of academic video game audio and music studies, the usual disclaimers are in order. Of course, this bibliography is very much a work in progress. Any conclusions drawn from it in this blog post are subject to change as more entries are added and need to be taken with a pinch of salt. That said, the bibliography does ultimately aim at a complete list of publications on the topic, however impossible that may prove to be. Since the launch of the SSSMG website and the bibliography entry form, we have been getting a steady influx of entry suggestions—including both new and upcoming publications and older ones. While there might still be many ‘unknown unknowns’—particularly in scholarly disciplines further removed from SSSMG members’ areas of expertise—the hope is that as the society’s membership grows and as more scholars and practitioners discover the bibliography, the blanks will gradually be filled in.

Some overviews of the field can be found in the introductions and prefaces to existing monographs and particularly edited collections. Most of these stress academia’s tardiness when it comes to game audio, with different disciplines only turning their attention to the topic in the early 2000s. Ludomusicology: Approaches to Video Game Music (2016) paints with a broad brush, suggesting 2008 as the year the study of video game music really kicked off with Karen Collins’ monograph Game Sound and her edited collection From Pac-Man to Pop Music; Zach Whalen’s earlier articles (2004; 2007) are seen as a kind of prehistory. The Routledge volume Music in Video Games: Studying Play (2014) is less concerned with establishing beginnings and milestones, also mentioning David Bessell’s ‘What’s that Funny Noise?’ (2002), Axel Stockburger’s contribution to the first DiGRA conference in 2003, and Rod Munday’s chapter in the same volume as Zach Whalen’s ‘Case of Silent Hill’ (2007). Equally important is the volume’s mention of Scott Lipscomb and Sean Zehnder’s 2004 experimental study on the presence of soundtracks in video games. From Pac-Man to Pop Music includes a vital selected annotated bibliography by Erica Kudisch, which does not attempt a history of the field, but does include general game studies sources in which audio is discussed, such as Steven L. Kent’s Ultimate History of Video Games (Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing, 2001)—something the SSSMG bibliography mostly omits at this point. Kudisch also mentions Karen Collins’ early work on video game music, going back to 2004.

Chart 1. Number of bibliography entries by year

As Chart 1 shows, the field did only really get off the ground in the early 2000s, with only sporadic publications in the 1980s and 1990s (more on these below). But what is surprising is the number of publications before 2008. Recent years have seen the publication of large numbers of chapters in the various edited volumes dedicated to video game audio, and in more general volumes such as the Oxford Handbooks, which skews the results in Chart 1 somewhat. In Chart 2, edited volumes are taken as a single publication, and 2006-8 surprisingly is shown to be the most prolific period of scholarship on the topic. These years do include a disproportionally large number of entries of conference papers, such as those for DiGRA and Audio Mostly. The bibliography might still be lacking important papers from these conferences in other years, particularly Audio Mostly since its inception in 2006. Even then, this is the period in which scholars such as Mark Grimshaw, Kiri Miller, Kristine Jørgensen, and Fares Kayali and Martin Pichlmair published their first research on the topic, as well as Joanna Demers’ 2006 study of Dance Dance Revolution, which is often omitted from overviews of the field’s history.

Chart 2. Number of bibliography entries by year excluding chapters in edited volumes

The bibliography does contain entries that predate Bessell’s 2002 chapter. Most importantly, there is Matthew Belinkie’s paper ‘Video Game Music: Not Just Kid Stuff,’ hosted by the Video Game Music Archive. It not only includes an overview of the field at the time, but valuable interviews with game composers at a point in history where ‘Redbook audio, more than any other development … attracted new composers to video games.’ Going even further back reveals some of the flaws and inconsistencies that the bibliography currently has. There are a couple of papers for the International Computer Music Conference (Schmidt 1989; Lendino 1998), a paper on interactive music design (Borchers & Mühlhäuser 1998), a general history of game music (Herz 1997), and the very first entry is a manual by Tim Knight on ‘Mastering Sound and Music on the Atari ST’ (1987). No doubt there are other manuals like this one for early consoles, and submissions for entries such as these are wholeheartedly encouraged.

The difference between Charts 1 and 2 shows the enormous impact that the various edited volumes have had recently, starting from From Pac-Man to Pop Music, up to the release of two volumes over this summer, the Ludomusicology Equinox volume and Michael Austin’s Music Video Games, published with Bloomsbury. These volumes have made it possible and even necessary to move beyond general overviews and theories of video game music and/or audio to more specific case studies, experiments, and even sub-fields. K. J. Donnelly’s chapter on Plants vs. Zombies in Music in Video Games and Willem Strank’s study of iMuse in Peter Moormann’s Music and Game (2013), for instance, might have been deemed too niche if they had originally been submitted to more general journals of musicology or music and the moving image.

At the same time, a number of important themes are emerging that can almost be called sub-fields, such as the study of chiptune, and related to that nostalgia for the sounds of older console generations (e.g. Kizzire 2014; Cheng 2014; Lomeland 2014). The study of musical play in games—what might controversially be called ‘ludomusicology proper’—has often centred on the Guitar Hero series (van Elferen 2011; Miller 2009; Moseley 2013), but has been expanded by scholars such as Steven B. Reale (2014) to ask questions of non-music games such as L.A. Noire, and by Andrew Dolphin and Anahid Kassabian and Freya Jarman to relate music games and apps, to toys, to musical instruments; Nicola Dibben and Samantha Blickhan’s studies of Björk’s Biophilia can also be said to fit into this category. Another example is the study of music and sound—and the relationship between these two—in horror games. Silent Hill has been a rewarding case study in this regard, occupying scholars from Zach Whalen (2007) to Guillaume Roux-Girard (2011), William Cheng (2013), and Isabella van Elferen (2016).

These sub-fields (or at least areas of focus) offer a way into a more organised usage of keywords in the bibliography. At the moment, some keywords taken by themselves are too general or too vague (‘technology’ appears 35 times) to be of much use in a search function. Keywords like ‘horror’ (appearing 8 times) offer a much firmer idea of the topics discussed in the texts—although it should be said that the ubiquity of some terms can be explained by the tendency towards general overviews of game music and audio in the early days of the field. There are, for instance, 28 entries with ‘dynamic music’ as a keyword up to 2011, and only 7 since then. Even if we account for the terminology problem (dynamic vs. adaptive vs. interactive audio—this bibliography tries to follow Collins’ 2008 definitions), that is a significant difference. Of course, many of the games discussed in publications since 2011 have dynamic musical soundtracks, and their dynamic features are certainly mentioned in those articles, but more and more often theories of dynamism are taken for granted and not the primary focus of the research. This is a good thing: a set of axioms or at least a common ground is a sign that the field is moving forward.

One final observation is the contribution of the Oxford Handbooks (OH) to the field. Starting with Mark Grimshaw’s 2011 contribution to the OH of Sound Studies, there have been 34 chapters related to video game audio and music in various OHs—including 13 chapters in the OH of Interactive Audio (2014). The OH chapters have been at least as varied in their topics as those in the edited volumes. Moreover, they offer much needed interdisciplinary insights and exposure, often being bookended by studies of quite different media and subjects. Derek Burrill and Melissa Blanco Borelli’s chapter on Dance Central in the OH of Dance and the Popular Screen, for instance, is preceded by chapters on the remediation of hip-hop and Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’ At the very least, the OHs have offered an antidote to academic insulation and hopefully they have drawn more interest in video game sound and music from scholars in other fields and disciplines.

To reiterate, none of these observations should be taken as statistically significant facts. The bibliography is far from complete, both in terms of entries and their organisation; in fact, I had to make several corrections while drawing up this blog post. Any and all suggestions are more than welcome, and there are still some important questions to be answered. To what extent should the bibliography include texts that don’t focus on video game audio, but do make significant mention of the topic? To what extent should the bibliography include publications in the popular press, and which ones? Right now, we have adopted a ‘the more, the merrier’ stance, but is this wise in the long run? Should we be stricter in the allocation and use of keywords, perhaps through drop-down menus and suggestion boxes instead of blank fields? Hopefully, the flaws and inconsistencies in the current bibliography (although certainly not put there deliberately!) will encourage more interaction, and make for a livelier and more self-knowing field.

Finally, we would like to thank everyone for registering and participating on the site. Within its first month, SSSMG has grown to 90 members, and we look forward to the continued growth and development of the society next year. Everyone is wholeheartedly encouraged to contribute on the forums, to the bibliography or by suggesting blog posts themselves. For now, we wish everyone happy holidays and a wonderful 2017.

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