In December 2020, the quintessential gaming & emerging tech events company — SiGMA — interviewed MADLORD founder and Audio Director Jorge De Lellis for their SiGMA Magazine issue 13.
What sort of work goes into creating the soundtrack for an online slot? Can you briefly explain the process?
First, I help the game producer to define the type of music they want. Even if they are unfamiliar with musical terms or sound design jargon. Also, at MADLORD, much research is undertaken. And it’s not confined only to music styles. We also take a deep dive into culture — into myths and legends — to fully immerse ourselves into the game’s theme.
Next, several genre-specific instruments are loaded into Nuendo (the audio-production software). Then, melodic and harmonic ideas — created with just a piano — are tested to determine if they work with the emotional map that the music composer needs to follow. If these initial ideas work, then the music is arranged with the right instruments. The free-spin music loop is created first, since it is the most elaborate.
What impact does music and sound have on the player experience?
The impact of music and sound in multiline video slot experiences is mind boggling. In casino games winning money is unquestionably part of that experience. Graphics and game mechanics are also part of the experience.
But above all, emotions are at the heart of the human experience. And that is where music and sound shine through like nothing else.
A study by the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland in Australia established that ‘arousal’ is one of the primary rewards that a gambler gets from playing slot games. So it is not just about money. A study by the University of Glasgow in Scotland stated that ‘arousal’ is the major reinforcer of regular gambling behavior — critical for retention. And a study by the University of Waterloo in Canada provided evidence that win sounds and sound effects influence arousal levels in slot players. Furthermore, music heightens arousal levels in humans and enhances almost any experience.
In essence, the music and sound used in multiline video slot machines works in two ways. Firstly, as an incredibly powerful enhancer of the experience that the game already offers — it skyrockets the emotional excitement and arousal of gambling to the next level. Secondly, it creates instant emotional perceptions that images, numbers and words never will.
How important is the soundtrack and sound effects when it comes to creating an engaging and immersive online slot?
Short answer: more important than you can imagine. Music and sound are embedded in human culture from ancient times and, thus, they create powerful instinctive reactions at the very core of our decision-making processes. We are all susceptible to the power of music and sound. And there are scientific studies that prove this to be true.
An outstanding game needs to have both engagement and immersion. Engagement is active — clicking on the spin button, selecting a card, dancing while winning, focusing, etc. Whereas immersion is passive.
Win sounds and sound effects are crucial because they increase engagement. Adding a powerful layer of highly charged emotional content to game events (e.g., near misses, LDWs). This creates even more excitement and emotional thrills that push entertainment so much further.
The more thrilling the emotions that a person experiences, the more they are engaged to repeat that experience.
Now, especially in this day and age where mobile phones dominate user-experiences, soundtracks are crucial for creating immersion. Consider the following:
Even the most fantastic and impressive game-theme experience created though impressive background landscapes and surrounding graphics — that shines on a 27-inch desktop monitor — will utterly die on a tiny mobile phone screen!
When you think about immersion, you really imagine the experience you get from watching Terminator on a 65-foot cinema screen!
However, plugin tiny, portable in-ear headphones into your mobile phone, and a great music score and fantastic sound design will propel your mobile experience into the stratosphere! At MADLORD, we are now working on creating sonic experiences aimed for mobile that rival traditional desktop experiences.
Does music and sound create the same effect on every player?
Not exactly. That is why when composing music or working on sound design at MADLORD, we also tailor sounds to engage the particular player profile. For example, Philippines versus German land-based players versus UK versus hard-core players, etc.
Read SiGMA Magazine issue 13
Read the original interview now (page 114).