Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts

Degree Name

Composition, Rhetoric, and Digital Media

First Advisor

Melissa Bianchi, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mario D'Agostino, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Juliette Kitchens, Ph.D.


This thesis examines the rhetorical impact of sound in video games from an interdisciplinary perspective. By synthesizing game studies research with rhetorical theory, the thesis puts the works of notable game scholars, such as Karen Collins, Ian Bogost, Iain Hart, and Paul Cairns in conversation with research on sonic rhetoric by scholars such as Tanya K. Rodrigue et. al and Steph Ceraso. The thesis uses a ludomusicological lens to analyze several video games in which sound and music are heavily emphasized elements within the gameplay experience, such as Banjo-Kazooie (Rare, 1998) and Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall, 2015). Through the analyses, the thesis argues that sound in these games contributes to their immersive and engaging game worlds as well as their rhetorical storytelling. The thesis also illustrates how game sounds (or a lack thereof) can function as symbolism and metaphor, help players express themselves through interactivity, and support the medium’s other narrative elements. Finally, the thesis describes the broader implications of its arguments for game studies and rhetorical research, including how sonic rhetoric can function with or against other modalities in games and how sound might be used to engage audiences in other forms of interactive media.