Video Game Music and it's Importance on More Than Just Gaming
“It can serve to enhance a sense of immersion, cue narrative or plot changes, act as an emotional signifier, enhance the sense of aesthetic continuity, and cultivate the the thematic unity of a video game.” While the rest of the article that this quote came from is really informative on the topic of video game music and the impact it can have on the game itself, I found this quote to stand out. I say that because it is nothing is SUPER FACTS!
Now I want you all to think back on your favorite video games of all time or one of your favorite video games. Matter of fact just a game that you really really enjoy, whether it be from your childhood or even right now. Now when you are thinking of that game and probably your favorite level in that game, other than the mechanics and maybe the characters you can probably hum the music to that level with no questions asked. I know for me my favorite game of all time is Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube. While the stages and characters and mechanics are the main things that I loved about the game, the music played a HUGE part because even when I wasn’t playing the game I found myself humming most of the songs when I was in school or wherever I was. They were so influential to the game to me that I have some of those songs on my iPod today. When I was younger I got the Orchestral version of those songs on a CD in an issue of my Nintendo Power magazine. Ahhhh good times! I mean I actually BOUGHT the Sonic Adventure 2 Battle soundtrack when I was younger... well my mom bought it for me but you get the point! I can say with 100% confidence that the reason I got that album when I was younger was because of the immersion I felt whenever I hit play on my stereo. Immersion in this sense meaning being “in the game” where the person’s thoughts, attention and goals are focused in and around that environment. Whenever I played a track like “City Escape” from the famous level ironically named City Escape or “A Ghost’s Pumpkin Soup” from the Pumpkin Hill level, my mind always goes back to my younger self sitting on my bed playing that certain level. Also the lyrics and the sound were just beautiful sonically (see what I did there).
Video Game music for me also made me enjoy the game a lot more, but this is not just from my point of view. In an article that I read, they held an experiment where 2 groups of people played FPS games in a closed environment. One group with music and the other group without music. The final results were actually interesting because the group with the sound on had more positive and neutral dimensions of the experience with the game and were more immersed, while the second group had the complete opposite results. Also the study showed that playing with music unrelated to the players actions or to certain events happening on the screen got the higher scores in the video game, more than the second non-music group. This research alone shows how much video game music can play an influential role in the game itself and how a person plays it. Video game music aims to combine usability with presence and immersion in the games world. The sounds in the video games are used to provide an audio compliment with the action that is on the screen and create a sense of a real physical space. This can explain why when you hear music from a certain stage, it can either give you a good or an “oh no” feeling because you KNOW EXACTLY what you were doing when you hear that particular song. It could be a memory of when you beat a hard boss, got stuck in difficult puzzle or you just finished the game and that was the music that was playing during the credits. So the different music can make you experience different emotions and can possibly make you work harder at the game or any other activity.
Adding to video game music increasing activity is not only in video games either, this is found in exercising or even everyday work. I know for me personally when I am at work if I am not listening to a podcast or listening to album or video game reviews, I will throw on a playlist of video game music. This helps me get my work done because the music can be either very soothing or serve as just great background music. I have been doing that for a while, since my first industry job in 2014. My favorite songs to actually listen to now are 1 hour long loops of certain video game stages or just menu songs like “Live and Learn” from Sonic Adventure 2 battle, “Mother 2” from Super Smash Bros: Melee, or even the Wii Sports Menu theme song. In another article I read it, discussed why it is a good idea to actually listen to video game music while you are working. One thing the article said was that when you’re in a good mood, it is easier to think of new and creative ideas or come up with new solutions to problems. So imagine if you are at work, or just working on a project in general, and you listen to one of your favorite video game tracks, you will more than likely get more work done because you are generally in a good mood at that time. Also with video game music, it is specifically designed to motivate players while staying in the background. It also sets the mood for the game where it can have a great rhythm but never distracts the player from the objective of the game at the same time, and motivates the player to keep moving forward. In the workplace this has the exact same effect because listening to it while you’re working keeps you focused on the task at hand or can help you think of new jaw-dropping ideas. Hey, you never know, that decision to listen to your favorite video game soundtrack might get you that meeting with one of your bosses for a possible promotion or a big pat on the back because of that motivation towards hard work.
In conclusion, Video Game Soundtracks or Scores, or whatever you wish to call them, can play a big role in our lives. Not just in video games (even though that can be the biggest role), but especially when you are trying to be productive. Just like what was mentioned above, playing video games are about completing an objective and that music in the background is there for you to keep you engaged but not let you lose focus. Also video games music, just like any other music, helps you become more immersed into the world that the video game has already laid out in front of you. I can not tell you how much video game music has a special place in my heart because of certain memories I have with them (it’s a lot *in my whispering voice*). I personally use this in my workplace environment and have been doing so for a while, even in college late nights working on assignments. While it might not be for everybody I would encourage you to try it and see how much work you can get done. Or just try muting the TV while playing a video game and see how fun it is versus with the music on. I guarantee you will see a difference.
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