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Understanding The Psychology of Sound in Online Casino Gaming

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In the opening of the 1995 movie ‘Jumanji,’ a steady, deep and sinister pulsating beat is used to introduce the audience to the unique identity of the titular game. Jump ahead to the present day and the sound is so iconic that it has been carried over into the sequels of the film, as well as to a slot game based on the franchise.

The eerie thumping acts not only as an auditory effect to personify the game, but also prepares the audience and the characters, for the tumultuous emotional journey of peril and triumph. It’s a sound that acts as the perfect embodiment of how the world of entertainment, from video gaming to online casinos, owes a great deal to one frequently underestimated champion: sound engineering.

The Sounds of a Game: An Academic Perspective

Old-school gamers are likely familiar with the resonating sounds of games like Super Mario Bros, Sonic and Zelda, which are not only nostalgic and comforting to many, but also prove that sound can transport listeners to different times, places or emotional states. Iconic sounds from arcade games have spawned a new genre of music creation known as ‘Chiptune.’

Modern video games take sound design to an entirely new level. Armed with prolific studies, such as Grimshaw et al. (2008), the psychological effects of soundscapes in video gaming have gained attention from creators and developers alike. Designers are now hyper-focused on creating auditory environments that encircle the playing experience, creating more immersive worlds.

From the very start of the design process, sound engineers work with creators to understand the tone and theme of the game to make precise decisions on how to find, produce and mix the right sounds and music to execute the intended emotional effect on players as they engage with the game.

Sound Design Principles in Online Casinos

If sound design in video games proves a fascinating subject, online casinos take it to an entirely new level. The strategic use of sound in online casinos creates an environment that is not only engaging but also comforting and familiar—think of the delicate sound of virtual roulette wheels or the shuffling of cards while playing.

Sound design is also employed to craft a delightful gaming experience. According to a study conducted in 2013 by Dixon et al. and published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, the inclusion of celebratory sounds, even for small victories, gives players the impression of winning more often. As a result, this enhances their involvement and overall enjoyment.

An excerpt from the study explains, “[…] results showed that the sound influenced the arousal of participants both psychophysically and psychologically. The sound also influenced players’ preferences, with the majority of players preferring to play slot machines that were accompanied by winning sounds.”

Enhancing Experience Through Sound

Beyond the psychological implications, there lies a delicate art and science in composing music for online casino games. Each melody and every note is intentionally chosen and optimized to align with both the player and the game. Fast-paced rhythms and major keys, for example, are used to create an atmosphere of delight and joy.

Sounds of celebration, like the ringing of coins in a slot game, are tightly crafted to elicit resounding feelings of victory, even for small wins. The sound not only reinforces the excitement of winning but also creates a mood boost—more or less the opposite feeling created by the moody thud of Jumanji’s call to treacherous adventure.

The human ear and the human brain work together with the available formats of modern-day entertainment to create miraculous cause-and-effect questions. Yet, the field of sound and music design is only in its infancy. The complex domain blends psychological insights, artistic expression and technological innovation. Overall, it proves to be a subtle yet influential force, shaping how players experience, perceive and engage with modern-day digital platforms.

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