It's almost time for the Whitney Biennial here in NYC, and the main page for the show includes this intriguing gameplay interaction:
Curator Carrion-Murayari is playing FIFA soccer with artist Ari Marcopoulos, who insists on a soundtrack of painful staticky noise for their play. The victor still stands up and shouts "Oh, yes!" when he scores a goal, but the viewing experience is nowhere near as uplifting and engaging and suspense building as the usual over-the-shoulder FIFA soccer viewing...
In a way, Marcopoulous' intervention is removing a big chunk of the cinematic triggers for empathy in the gaming experience, leaving the triggers embedded in the gameplay itself (as well as, of course, the visuals). I wonder if it affects the over-the-shoulder experience far more than the play experience, based on their behavior, and I wonder if this somehow confirms the ruminations of game scholars like Jesper Juul, on the relative unimportance of the trappings for the senses that frame the core mechanics. Or perhaps the unpleasant noise creates some kind of physical tension in the players that in a weird way, enhances the build-up to the goal.
This is why I sometimes feel that artists are the ultimate empiricists, putting social scientists in the dust, in the way they poke at key questions about experience.