“Sound Shapes” is in many respects a traditional video game, some may even say old-fashioned. Users control a character, in this case a ball, and move it left to right or top to bottom across a screen. Simple enough.
Except dig a little deeper and it becomes clear that “Sound Shapes” is not a traditional game at all. It can even be argued that “Sound Shapes” in an instrument masquerading as a game.
Released Tuesday as a downloadable game via Sony’s PlayStation Network, “Sound Shapes” contains original music from local pop eccentric Beck and EDM star Deadmau5, among others, and invites users to shred the songs, piece by piece, and then reassemble them to create a music-based universe.
“The word ‘gateway’ has terrible connotations, but I look at this as a gateway to music production,” says Alex Hackford, who works in AR at Sony Computer Entertainment America. “This shows you how to make a compelling game level, and illustrates how to sequence parts of different music.”
Pop music and video games have had a cozy relationship for years. Songs from major artists can be heard in sports games and throughout popular series such as “Grand Theft Auto,” and once-hot franchises like “Guitar Hero” invited gamers to reimagine themselves as budding rock stars.
“Sound Shapes” represents a more seamless integration. In the traditional game, levels are presented as grooves on a record, and every movement by the user reveals a new bit of the song.
No two people may ever hear the song the same. The sounds in the game are culled from individual studio tracks — a bass echo here, a tap of a hi-hat there — rather than the traditional masters of a song.
Explained Hackford: “I’ve seen the landscape change dramatically over the past 15 years, in terms of rights and rights management and what