|The card's front face||The card's back face|
|A phase of gameplay promoting a restful state of mind.|
Relaxation is one typical phase of the Emotional Script during gameplay. It is used both alone and integrated in an iterated sequence that can also involve some or all of the phases of Anticipation, Engagement, and Decay (the R-A-E-D Iterations).
Even when a game does not have Relaxation as its prevalent emotional goal, the phases of Relaxation are instrumental to build the emotional contrast that will emphasize the value of following phases of Anticipation or Engagement. This is particularly relevant, considering that the player's experience is mostly dependent on the interpretation of the game's Emotional Script.
For historical reasons, Music is the most explored means to implement Relaxation. Yet, other sound explorations, namely those that, in turn, resort to Entrainment techniques, have been effectively used, too. Ambiance is also commonly explored in association with Relaxation, usually portraying an acoustic environment that is pleasing and not too demanding in terms of attention (which also means not too overloaded with "pleasing" elements).
The Aesthetic qualities of the acoustic composition may also be relevant to Relaxation. Qualities that may be considered positive (e.g., "pleasing") are more prone to induce relaxation that those that may be perceived as negative. Nevertheless, it may also be argued that an excessive (positive) appreciation for the composition, per se, may be counterproductive. To start with, because it can mean an increased level of arousal that would no longer be perceived as Relaxation; but also because such appreciation may divert the player from the immersion in the game world to an appreciation of the game product itself (which may counter the design intent).
Sound has been historically explored as a tool to induce and sustain states of mind, including Relaxation. At a fundamental level the idea is to create a resonance between the stimuli and the listener's inner psychophysiological systems through some Entrainment process, in a state that matches the intended emotional state. In the field of Music this has been done and documented for ages. Cinema also has adopted and adapted the use of Music to lead the listener to a certain state of mind. In turn, the game industry has considered techniques both from film practice and Music, not forgetting the particularities of the media, which open new opportunities and call for specific approaches to Music.