External Context and Zelda’s Magic Circle

As I mentioned in my last post, the music and sound design of Ocarina of Time has been an element of the game I have noticed and appreciated more and more the more I play through the game. One interesting phenomenon with the game that I have discovered, however, is that the current near-meme status that some of the sound design elements have achieved in gamer and internet culture have altered the associations I make with the sound effects, which alters the feel of the gameplay itself. For instance, I have heard Link’s spin attack yell used as a sample in songs, and have done so myself when making music. The “secret discovery” sound effect is another that I have heard so often in other Zelda games and outside of the context of a video game that I am somewhat dissociated from the game world when I hear it. It makes me wonder if the magic circle created by the rules of the game can eventually be worn away as the game becomes more of a cultural artifact than an immersive gamic experience and the player becomes increasingly distracted from the gamic experience by the constant sonic reminder that they’re playing a Zelda game and not actually exploring the landscape of Hyrule and fighting monsters to rescue the kingdom. To extend this line of thought, I also wonder if this phenomenon may mean that it is impossible to create a convincing magic circle with the continuation of a successful series. As the series gains a following and its own place in gamer/internet/general culture, it becomes impossible to disassociate elements of the game from their appearance outside of the game. Nintendo, however, seems to have wholly embraced the relevance of their games outside the context of the digital video game world, with games like the Super Smash Bros. series creating a context-collapsing post-modern mashup of the most popular Nintendo characters.

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