Playable Sound

Hauntology in Bioshock, a Video Game for a Lost Future


The medium of VideoGames, recognised as a hyper-sensory event and a new “form of literacy”  according to Zimmerman, allows for the creation of atmospheres which exceed the sum of the parts, meaning audio, graphics, mechanics etc. This paper focuses on the immersive, Dionysian aspect of sound which can create a nostalgic atmosphere for a lost future. Bioshock, displaying all sorts of atmospheric qualities, is a multi-awarded, first-person shooter game with RPG, horror and stealth game references. Its soundtrack will be analysed through the spectrum of hauntology, a term coined by Derrida, aiming to show how audio can be used to evoke extra-musical memories and contribute to the creation of a rich synthetic reality resulting in the longing of an unrealised utopia.

Keywords: soundtrack, video game, hauntology, memory, referential listening

co-authored with Polyxeni Mantzou


 4th International Congress on Ambiances, Alloaesthesia: Senses, Inventions, Worlds, Réseau International Ambiances


Dec 2020, France


Proceedings of the conference