The abbreviation GAMPSISS stands for GAmeful Music Performances for Smart, Inclusive, and Sustainable Societies. It is an interdisciplinary research project, initiated by the Rotterdam Arts and Sciences Lab (RASL). We investigate the integration of games and gamification in classical music concerts, so that its audiences may engage themselves in meaningful modes of listening, eventually resulting in a listening culture from which citizens and society could benefit.
Four research institutions are taking part: Codarts University for the Arts, Rotterdam; Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of History, Culture, and Communication, Department of Arts and Culture Studies; Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Technology, Policy, and Management, Department of MultiActor Systems, Section Policy Analysis; and the Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam. Next to these knowledge institutions, a range of public and private partners are participating in the project.
Smart, inclusive, and sustainable societies need citizens that are able to listen to multiple voices attentively. Therefore, listening takes a central place in our theoretical considerations. While deep, active listening to music is not the same as social listening in a democratic society, these different forms of listening require a similar set of skills and attitudes. Public values such as openness and tolerance to be rooted in citizens’ minds and behaviour. These values give rise to democratic citizenship and civic participation. Although classical music has shown its potential for transferring societal values in the 19th century, mainly through the template of elevation, the importance of classical music concerts is threatened by the decline and rapid ageing of its audience. In addition, the increasing digitalization and streaming of music is changing the nature of the relation between music and its audience, making the boundaries between musical genres more blurry and less meaningful. These changes in listening practices and the smoothing out of genre differences and cultural hierarchies makes it less likely that audiences will have meaningful, transforming experiences when attending a classical music concert.
Healthy democratic societies need citizens that are willing and able to listen to others. Earlier research has indicated that an active listening culture gives rise to more empathic behaviour. In this project, we investigate if through games and gamification we can enhance the relevance of listening on an individual level, as well as how an active listening culture may be encouraged. Furthermore, attracting the attention of a new social segment that is significantly more diverse than the current concert audience, is our final ambition.
In today’s world, games are important for activating people and sparking public debate. They are an increasing force in education, skill training and entertainment. Prompted by our public and private partners, we will explore how artistic performances that fuse classical music and gaming will contribute to transforming the existing listening culture into one required for smart, inclusive, and sustainable societies to emerge. This way, we aim to address the current relevance of classical music at the level of the product, the sector and society at large. The game that we envision and will develop in this research trajectory functions as an integrated form of access that respects the original cultural product yet simultaneously redefines it. It is pervasive, engaging with sets of values from real life and interweaving them in order to contribute to a citizenship that does not remain between the walls of the concert hall.
As our research is right on the intersection of the artistic and the academic knowledge production, our research design combines analytical, design oriented and artistic research. The nature of the research is interdisciplinary, since all researchers feedback to – and intervene in each other’s disciplines. The importance of this approach lies in the fact that the research needs 1] an artist who deeply understands classical music from a maker’s point of view; 2] academics on existing listening cultures of audiences and their social values to translate her findings and hold them against state of the art knowledge in the social sciences; and 3] someone who can converge all forces into a high end product in terms of game design, interaction design and practical usage. As its scientific methods the project employs audience research, experiments, secondary survey data on trends in society and listening culture, and design science research. Several ludic music performances will be designed, performed and evaluated with a mixed methods approach to answer our research questions.