Skip to content

Video game giant supports PhD student’s non-linear time in music research

Matt Deegan, a Music and Sound PhD student at the University of Gloucestershire, has been awarded $10,000 by US video game giant Epic Games, to support his innovative research on non-linear time in music composition using computer game software.

Unlike in films or on TV, where the musical score is written with a specific scene in mind and will be the same each time it is played back, sound for a computer game is dependent on user input and will be different each time.

This means that music for the gaming industry, now worth an estimated $300 billion worldwide, needs to be interactive and adaptive – in other words, non-linear – because it is impossible to predict how long a player will spend trying to solve a puzzle or defeat an enemy.

Turning the situation on its head, Matt is carrying out research to find out how computer game software can be utilised to write non-linear music as the game is being played, providing the game player with a unique experience every time they play.

Matt’s study has received $10,000 in funding from Epic Games’ $100 million MegaGrants scheme that aims to support game developers, enterprise professionals and media and entertainment creators. Matt said: “To say I was thrilled that my application for funding was successful would be an understatement. The grant from Epic Games will help fund my PhD studies and purchase key equipment to use in my research.

“Computer games are big business and have grown inexorably since the 1970s. They are prevalent in our daily lives and exist on computers, tablets and mobile phones and follow different formats such as 2D, 3D, virtual and augmented reality.

“Sound design and music are an integral part of these formats and are created to enhance each game. There is a wide variety of sound, from explosion sound effects to full orchestral music scores, aimed at enhancing the player’s journey through the game.

“The idea of my research is to explore the possibilities surrounding music and sound creation using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine game development software.

“This software provides sophisticated tools for a range of elements including game development, virtual, augmented and mixed realities, film, video and live events, architecture, engineering and construction, and product design.

“No one can predict where technology will take us and how it will be consumed, and investigating audio creation and manipulation using this technology is not only exciting, but integral to future development.”