Music is an important aspect of the development of games. Yet this art form actually gets little attention from gamers. For a large majority, the music is often just an afterthought that matters less than the gameplay which is usually covered on portals like the COD homepage. Funnily enough, music plays a bigger role in the final gaming experience than you might expect. Games consist of different types of art, but music is not something that many people mention when they talk about gaming as a whole. That’s why an article about what makes music so important in this medium.
Horror games like Resident Evil are a good starting point if you want to talk about the added value of music. A poorly lit corridor with some flickering lights here and there is a lot less scary without a nerve-wracking soundtrack. In the programming, they can even ensure that the music slowly softens up to a jumpscare. To follow it up with a rock-hard sound effect at the right time. This literally puts your heart in your throat.
In addition to horror games, music is at least as important in an adventure game. Take The Legend of Zelda for example, every fan recognizes the music on Hyrule Field at the first notes. It probably brings out a strong nostalgic feeling in most cases. The full experience of games depends on the music in the background. Each game, therefore, requires a different approach. Devil May Cry would have much less impact if you swap Metal for the calming music from Animal Crossing.
Memorable boss, a memorable soundtrack
Every boss that is burned on your retina naturally has an equally memorable soundtrack. Mt. Gulg from Final Fantasy 7 and Grandma (destruction) from NieR: Automata are a few good examples of this. Mt. Gulg, sephiroth’s soundtrack, still gives most fans a bad feeling to this day. Nobuo Uematsu has also done his exceptional best for that because the whole point of meeting Sephiroth is that it is bad. The intensity of the first notes was therefore very important for the music because it had to be immediately clear that this was not going to be a pleasant experience.
It would be too easy to call Guitar Hero or Just Dance now because it goes without saying that in those games the music is important. That’s why we’re going to talk about Crypt of the Necrodancer, a Rhythm game where every action is meant to happen in rhythm. Enemies move in rhythm from box to box and if the player anticipates this well then the gameplay is very satisfying. Of course, this almost goes without saying when you surrender yourself to the flow of the music.
In addition to composing pieces of music, there is also a lot of technical work involved in creating soundtracks for video games. When the music is ready, it still has to be processed in the code of the software without this having any undesirable effects. Yes, the music in a game can also cause glitches, which is why adding music requires a lot of expertise. Of course, every gamer knows how much irritation glitches can cause. In addition, it is also difficult to write a piece of music that sounds good while it depends to a large extent on the movements of players in the world.
If there’s one thing that should be clear from this article, it’s the amount of expertise needed to compose for games. Not only writing the music but also applying the music in games still has some complicated challenges for the developer and the composer. Music is at least as important as good acting for emotional scenes. Boss fights are obviously very impressive in their own right but have much more impact when an orchestra adds epic music to them. Games are a list of all forms of art and that makes music indispensable in the gaming industry.