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《NieR _ Automata》_ Immersion Research on Game Music

NieR music


How do the soundtracks enhance immersion in computer games? --- A case study of《NieR:Automata》 

gameplay. scores

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Thesis Abstract

How do adaptive music and audio design build up the believability of game worlds?

The purpose of this study was to investigate how soundtracks and audio design can contribute to the establishment of immersion in computer games. Another aim was to find out how the game audio works with the visual can intensify the emotional bonds between the players and the fictional world of games.


《NieR: Automata》, the Japanese action role-playing game, was the subject of this study. The score analysis of selected soundtracks and the related gameplay videos of five main endings (ABCDE) were scrutinised in this study.


Players' 'extention of self'

The Audio enhancement framework in SCI-model was proposed by this study as the research method, which can divide into three domains : Sensory immersion, Challenged-based immersion, and Imaginary immersion. The concept of Flow was distinguished from immersion in the study. Besides, theories from Michel Chion and Ernst Toch were utilised on inspecting the functionality of audio in multimedia and the music analysis. Finally, the embodied cognition approach was applied to examine imaginary immersion, whose findings suggested that the auditory realm of games is crucial to turns the characters as the player’s ‘extension of self’ to sense and react to the game world. 

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What is the role of soundtracks for immersion in computer games?

The results revealed that the immersion in computer games benefits from the ‘emotion-inducing’ function of soundtracks to make players identify with the scenario and characters in games. Next, it was discovered that spatial audio design combined with adaptive music can effectively elicit the player’s empathy with characters, which supports stronger emotional bonds and the believability of game world by providing high sensorimotor contingency.

The principal conclusion was that to evaluate the immersive level of a game is to assess how much it “renders the fidelity to our aural memory”, instead of how much it ‘preserve the fidelity to reality’. Lastly, it was found that players would immerse themselves further if the thematic depth is offered via the recursive structure of games.  

Read the full research paper here. Scroll down for the Appendix content. For detailed score analysis, please click the soundtrack names or page number.

 #1 MACHINE VILLAGE  p.21-23

Gameplay 3: Machine Village firstly appears with soundtrack <17.Pascal>

Chorus comes in after Pascal has shown his kindness.


Satre: 'Do you believe that existence precedes essence?'

9S: 'Wait, they have genders?'


Gameplay 9:

9S comes out of the tunnel by the flight unit, flying toward the screen then leaving off the left side.

 #3 SILENCE  p.55

Gameplay 8:

The most tough battle right before Ending A. After two combat tunes, the silence highlights the war is over.

 #4 TONE FILTER  p.61-62

Gameplay 19:

The long transition from normal track to 8-bit version shows the difficulty and uncertainty of Hacking.

When Devola & Popola are talking, <12.Emil's Shop> in soft volume shows that Emil is somewhere not close to the Resource Unit.

 #5 TOP SECRET  p.85

Gameplay 19:

Only the Layer 1 of <34. Alien Manifestation> has been processed by Tone Filter. The clean mix helps players digest the subversive secret.

 #6 LO-FI  p.100-101

Gameplay 16:

The increasing noise level indicates the character's vitality, for example, 2B's final battle. 

 #7 ENDING D & E  p.113-115, 121, 146

Gameplay 21:

Ending D


9S' will

The transition to Ending E


 Pod 042's WILL

 Instructive screen as a new storytelling interface

 #8 JUKEBOX  p.140

Gameplay 18:

Magic circle and paradoxical design -

Breaking immersion vs. 

Empowering players

 #9 ACCESS POINT  p.143

Gameplay 18:

Integrating players' free choice to game mechanics - Teleportation screen = Loading screen.

The dialogues show the personality of avatars: A2, machines.


 Music changes its reverb when AccessPoint menu opens.

 #10 REBIRTH  p.144

Gameplay 8:

Music supports the Primary & Secondary emotions of the scene (Ending A & B). 

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