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Perceptible sound of heartbeating.


Character Soundprint , Awareness , Emotional Script , Entrainment , Anticipation , Imminent Death , Engagement .
Makes use of:
Foley .


The sound of the Heartbeat, or some variation that more or less consciously resembles it, is a common presence in games.

The use of Heartbeat-like stimuli is rooted on the principle of Entrainment and it has a great impact in terms of the Emotional Script. It is usually associated to situations when it is required an exceptionally high level of Awareness.

Heartbeat-like stimuli may be part of Character Soundprint or may integrate the interface in a non-diegetic manner.

For Entrainment to be more effective, the intensity (loudness) of the Heartbeat starts discreetly and gradually increases to match the drama, possibly to the point of becoming the dominant sound. When the kind of Awareness that is to be signalled is related to time (as in Hurry Up!), it is common that the rhythm also increases, as that time vanishes, emulating the process of increasing Heartbeat rate of a person when facing an affliction.


InFamous: When in Imminent Death, hearing gets affected and Cole's heartbeat becomes the prevalent sound.
Dead to Rights: Retribution: When sneaking, Shadow's hearing focuses on people's acoustic expression and particularly in Heartbeat, which not only works as a beacon but also allows inferring their state of alertness.
Heavy Rain: The sound of the Heartbeat adds meaning to the already very emotional facial expression.
[show less examples...]
Limbo: A background pulse that resembles the Heartbeat augments the drama.
Fable III [SPOILER VIDEO]: The Heartbeat leaves no doubt that the player has a dramatic decision in hands.
Buzz!: Brain of the World:
Deadly Premonition:
The Path:

Additional Comments

In the field of music, the emotional effect of tempo relative to the Heartbeat has long been explored [pending ref].