Grieg Research School in Interdisciplinary Music Studies

Project title: Building musical agency through gameplay - Musical experience, action, and learning in the world of digital games

Project period: August 2013 – September 2017

Main supervisor: Lauri Väkevä

Co-supervisor: Andrew R. Brown

Co-supervisor: Catharina Christophersen


The project:

In my doctoral research I focus on music technology and learning in commercial entertainment video games and online game culture. The leading idea is that it is possible to construct musical agency and develop different kind of game musician identities in video games and online game culture. My general research question is: How is musical agency and identity constructed in video games and online game culture?

This process I investigate through the concepts of experience, learning, and culture. Here, learning is seen as the mediating step between music game experiences and cultural participation. For instance, to be able to participate in game specific music cultures you need to have played the specific game and have some kind of musical experience in relationship to it.

My research is designed as an ethnographic case study. The case is the music universe of the LittleBigPlanet game series, and the participants are gamers, audio designers, composers of interactive music, and composers of licensed music tracks representing different parts of the music universe of LittleBigPlanet. They all provide unique perspectives on development of agency and identity in this context. Data is collected using a combination of methods including interviews and participant observation of playing games, forum activities, and other publishing and social media activities. The results will be analysed in relation to the theoretical framework, and implications are expected to provide new insight that can increase music educators’ and decision-makers’ understandings of 21th century music practices, as well as how they are taught and learned in contemporary digital music cultures. 

Sigrid Jordal Havre is a PhD candidate at Bergen University College and a doctoral student at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki. She is working in the field of music education. Her research area is music technology and education, and in her doctoral thesis she investigates various aspects of learning in commercial video games and online games culture.