Music in Gaming

I am sorry for writing this later than I had promised. First I would like to give a hat tip to Syl due to listening to her on her podcast Battle Bards.

If you have read some of my other posts you will have come to an understanding that I have a love of music. I would argue that it is a love all forms of art be it prose, music, or graphic. I used to be a fairly good at drawing in charcoal and pastels when I was younger. The only reason was due to repetition and practice. It was most definitely not due to talent. However, I have never had a musical bone in my body. I have tried several instruments much to the chagrin to my mother when I was younger. However, I took after my father who was an audiophile of sorts. So I just learned to have a love for music.

Music in gaming in my opinion is very much like music in movies. Music in movies can is either diagetic and non-diagetic. Now I am going to bust out what I learned in my film appreciation class. More often than not it is non-diagetic; it is over the standard dialog and audio. A good example of diegetic would be like Bing Crosby singing White Christmas.

Dorothy Kirsten & Bing Crosby in Mr. Music - t...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Music can add to an audience’s emotions. How many car chases have you seen that did not have some kind of non-diagetic music going? I have yet to see a movie that has. I feel that it even has the ability to not only add to the audience’s emotions it can evoke an emotion as well. Billy Boyd singing The Edge of Night in Return of the King is a perfect example for me. It is tempered by the diagetic sound of Denethor crushing the chicken bones. The diagetic sound of the crushing bones is a nice foreshadow of the outcome. Plus, it is a symbol of Denethor’s action which will cause needless deaths. You can just feel the futility of the charge almost an modern day homage to the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Music in gaming can have similar impact on players’ experiences. Early gaming music had more difficulty evoking or adding to players emotions. This was due to the nature of the music being limited to midi style music. But I bet that many people my age would immediately recognize the following themes:

That may not have evoked a response back when it came out. But I bet many my age would immediately recognize it if they hear it today and thus evoking an emotional response. Mine would be of gamer rage. I sucked terribly at Super Mario Brothers.

The first MMO that I absolutely loved for the music in was Everquest II. Nektropos Castle’s music added so much to the experience of the dungeon crawl. I always called it the Scooby Doo castle. That and Stormhold my Scooby Doo dungeon. I loved and hated Nektropos; loved the ambiance, hated the bugs.

The embedded preview for Stormhold seems busted so here is a link.

Most notably the the Echoes of Faydwer expansion. That expansion’s music was epic in terms of getting the player in the mindset of the continent of Faydwer. I loved the Kelethin/Greater Faydark music.

To me a music for a MMO should give the underlying tone of the zone that the player is in. It can evoke a Sense of Wonderment, Sense of Exploration, and a Sense of Urgency. (Sorry had to use link outs instead of embedding. The embedding in Youtube for most of those was not working).