Katja Rogers, Matthias Jörg, and Michael Weber. 2019. Effects of Background Music on Risk-Taking and General Player Experience. In Proceedings of the 2019 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY ’19). ACM. doi:10.1145/3311350.3347158
Music affects our emotions and behaviour in real life, yet despite its prevalence in games, we have a limited understanding of its potential as a tool to explicitly influence player experience and behaviour in games. In this work, we investigate whether we can affect players' risk-taking behaviour through the presence and attributes of background music. We built a game that operationalizes risk behaviour by repeatedly giving players the choice between a safe but less rewarding course, and a risky but potentially more rewarding course. In a mixed-design user study (N=60), we explored the impact of music presence, tempo, and affective inflection on players' in-game risk behaviour and overall player experience. We found an effect of music presence on risk behaviour in the first playthrough, i.e., in the absence of other prior knowledge about the game. Further, music affect and tempo affected player immersion, as well as experienced mastery and challenge. Based on these findings, we discuss implications for game design and future research directions.