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The Evolution of Music in Video Games

I wonder how composers and musical directors choose the type and style of music to go with the games they take part in bringing to life. The music in games have evolved from the silent era of Magnavox Odyssey and single monotone melodies of Pong to full blown orchestral pieces and popular music by artists. Gone are the days where game music made no impact on a gamer’s experience. Today, music directors and supervisors have tapped into the emotional side of humans to capture and elevate the user experience while playing video games. Game music soundtracks have gained recognition and gone on to win awards such as the Ivor Novello Awards (Killzone 2), BAFTA (Far Cry 4) and even the Grammys (Civilization IV).

Console gaming is an engaging medium and it has become an platform for artists and composers to create masterpieces. Video game music has evolved as video games have become more technologically advanced and complex. Dedicated gamers have taken notice and began to appreciate good quality soundtracks, pushing composers to release good music. Creating music for games entails music composers, musical supervisors and a musical director working with game developers and game publishers. Game music now play on the characters emotions and also the gamers emotions while enhancing beautiful and picturistic sceneries, for example, the death of the Aerith at the hands of Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII. Game music enticement starts from epic game trailers such as Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, The Witcher 3 and Warcraft III. The awesome soundtracks of these trailers help the cinematics in a big way, enticing gamers to pre-order the games.

The different sounds in game music all play different roles and produce different effects, from chips, rhythmic drums to background symphonic music. The rhythm of the music in console games can also change depending on the situation or action of the player. There is the music to start a game, music for treasure collecting, music for game completion and dreaded music to indicate a character’s death or ‘Game Over’. For instance in the new Horizon Zero Dawn, when there is a fight scene, the music changes to a fast energetic beat to alert the player and get the adrenaline pumping while the character ‘Aloy’ defeats robot machines. The game features tribal, machine and beautiful nature music composed by the likes of Joris de Man (Killzone series), Niel Van der Leest (Pac-Man Run), The Flight (Alien:Isolation) and many others. The four-hour soundtrack can be listened to on Spotify.

Established artists from all genres are also beginning to feature in music for games. Games such as Grand Theft Auto, Madden 17, NBA2K17, Tony Hawk Underground, featured artists like Murs, Lady Gaga, Lorde, Aesop Rock, KISS, Flo Rida, Drake, The Clash, Deltron 3030, Rugged Man, NOFX, Sublime and Bracket and Jay Z. You have all styles, genres and tones of music in each game, indicating that in the 20th century gaming world, just having one style and genre of music in a game, does not cut it anymore. Artists have also partnered with gaming companies to create their own games that feature their own music. Let us not forget other games with musical instruments like Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and The Beatles: Rock band games that allows the players to horn their instrumental skills while playing rock music.

My all-time favorite game with music was Dance Dance Revolution slot arcade game (DDR) and all my coins went to playing this particular game. It featured english and Japanese songs from all genres ranging from classical, pop, house, techno to disco. It kept me fit, I got to sing along to the songs while trying to tell my feet to dance to the rhythm of the arrows. I also enjoyed the flashing lights and sounds the arcade machine made. If you do not have access to arcade games and you want flashy lights and music then a free online slots site such as Tuxgames is the way to go. The slot machine games are free to play and all the games feature some style of music. You can find various games like Guns N’ Roses and Motorhead which all feature music from their titular artists or just the regular bells and whistles synonymous to a vegas style slot machine. Some of the games feature rock band musics and marvel movie musics, it all depends on your taste.

In all, I am excited to see how game music will evolve in the years to come, how the style and genre will change over time. If you are interested in the soundtrack of games and want to listen to them,you can find them on the popular streaming services like Spotify, Google Music and Apple Music. Happy listening everyone!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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