Okay so we all know what music can do when playing game. It can make you feel rushed, like anything in the shadows can grab you at any given moment, it can make you feel like you want to cry during important cut scenes, at other times it can make you feel like a regular action hero or it can make you feel relaxed. That’s the goal of the music, to help set the feeling of the area in the video game you’re in. If you were to play a game without the music in it, chances are that the game wouldn’t be as good and it wouldn’t have the same feel as what the game achieves with the music.
A dive into history:
Music in video games has been around since the beginning of the gaming industry in the 70’s, though it wasn’t always like how we know it to be today. Back then, the music was simple, usually bits of the track would be used sparingly between levels or at the start of the game.
According to my research, the first game that used continues background music to set the mood was Taito’s Space Invaders. It has 4 bass notes at most, in a repeating loop but the music did influence how you feel. The closer the enemy gets to the player, the faster the music becomes, making you feel rushed and more eager to take out the enemy.
The first game to have multiple tracks was Konami’s Frogger from 1981. This game had at least 11 different tracks that were played during game play, in addition to this, the game also had the level starting and game over themes which would change according to the player’s actions. The feature of music interacting with the player’s movement was further improved in Namco’s game Dig Dug from 1983, in this game the music would stop playing as soon as the player stopped moving.
In the late 80′s, music for games started to improve and it was being written by people who had more experience when it came to music. You can tell this by the simple fact that the compositions for the music changed noticeably and stated to become more complex than the simple tones from games like Space Invader or Frogger.
In the 90’s music started to change completely. Instead of the normal tones that were usually being used, themes for games now started to have lyrics in them. Not just that though, the technology that was being used to make sure that music played was now able to play acoustic sounds. They even got to the point in the 90’s where you could swap out the cd from the game you were playing and pop in a cd from your own music collection, of course if the game needed a certain bit of data, you’d have to change the disks again.
As for the current game consoles on the market, almost all of them support the option to play your own music during the game, providing that you’ve saved it to the console’s hard disk.
What game music is like today:
About this I can be pretty brief. Nowadays, the music in video games is pretty much like the soundtracks of modern day movies. Popular artists are sometimes hired to make the track to a game and in most cases orchestras are hired to play the music you hear in games like Skyrim or Assassin’s Creed Revelations.
Today game music is a genre more than capable of standing alone, it’s been done in Japan for a number of years, but nowadays, music is released on CD around the same time that the game is released. What’s also noticeable is that there are concerts given in honour of the music in games, usually these concerts will play music from games like the Final Fantasy series or games made by Nintendo or just general iconic music pieces from games.
I think we can all agree that games wouldn’t be the same without their, sometimes epic, music. It really gives an extra atmosphere to the game you’re playing. I’d suggest you try this out for yourself. If you are playing a game in which you think the music is really adding to the atmosphere, pause it and turn the music off, see what happens and how you feel about the segment you’re playing in the game. I would suggest you try this in a game you’ve already played though; otherwise you might ruin a great piece of music for yourself by only hearing half of it.