Video games are something that pretty much everyone in their lifetime has at least played once. And many would have good memories with video games thanks to the music. Why is video game music so good?
As a whole, video games music help to create an atmosphere for each scene, helping the player immerse in different moods or mindsets. Video game music tends to be programmatic, and many players would get a nostalgic feeling after playing a game.
Most of the time, people tend to pay attention to the level designs or the story. But we tend to forget what is in the background, making everything connect perfectly; the music. Music through times has been the key to connecting with people in video games. That’s why there is a beautiful feeling every time you hear some of the tunes of your favorites games. That’s why for many, listening to this music helps them to study, relax or even go to sleep. There is even music as famous as the intro from the show Simpsons, Smell Like Teen Spirit from Nirvana, or any song from the Disney franchise. Let me ask you something. I want you to take 30 seconds and think in a famous tune. I’m pretty sure that for sure the Super Mario Bros tune came through your mind. That’s how vital video game music has become to our society.
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Why music is so important in video games
Music on a video game helps the players be more in-depth in each moment. Each level has its tune placating the atmosphere. Also, each character, most of the time, has its songs. For example, many remember Zelda’s Lullaby from the Legend of Zelda, which would play every time the princess talked to link or the Guile Theme from Street Fighter stage. Music does not just help set the atmosphere, but it also allows warm-ups before we begin to play. Many intros enabled us to get the hype. For example, the introduction of Mortal Kombar 2 or Zombie Ate My Neighbors.
Something that today I find fascinating is how much music can touch your emotions. For example, the boss music would make you feel anxious, or when some died in the game, a sad tune would come in, and you knew it was sad even if you were 7 or 8 years old. Happy music was very easy to identify, and you knew that something good was happening. And you know what, even if you don’t know what is happening in the story, you knew just with the music. In my case, we would play games not knowing anything in English, and of course, music helped us navigate the story. We played the whole Zela Ocarina Of time without knowing what was happening in the story. My brother and I didn’t understand English, but music helped us understand everything better. In other words, music was the language in that instance. Now, I’m going to ask you a question; would a video game be a video game without music?
Here is a statement by video game composer Tommy Tallarico taken from an NPR article called “The Evolution Of Video Game Music” that pretty much tells you why music on a video game is essential.
“If you remember in Space Invaders, you know, as the ships started to come down, the aliens, and as they got closer and closer, the sound got faster and faster. Now, what the game programmers did was that they took the person’s heart rate, and as they’re getting closer and closer, people would start to panic. Now they’d do the same studies without the sound, and the people wouldn’t panic as much. And it goes to show and prove how significant audio and music are.”
A brief history of video game music
Before video game music came to our life today, the sound was the only thing that prevailed. And, you may think, if there were sound, why not music? Well, it was not as easy as saying it. While you could hear the “bleeps,” there were insufficient sound channels on the arcade systems and computer chips to create music per se.
With time, the creators of these games realized how important music could be. Many composers managed to use more than 100% of the system’s capabilities to create music during the evolution of video games through the years. When I say “more than 100%,” I refer to composer David Wise which composed the Donkey Kong Country soundtrack for the Super Nintendo. In my opinion, he made a miracle for what it could have done with the SNES system. Here is an example of a beautiful track that it still impacts many lives (even mine).
Video game music had its first appearance in 1978 in a game called “Space Invaders.” It was composed by Tomohiro Nishikado. In this game, you can manage how just two sounds could make the effect of heart rate and feeling like you are on the space. It gets faster, and that can give you a feeling of anxiety.
In 1985, one of the most famous tunes in video game history was created. And that is, of course, the Super Mario Bros theme which was composed by composer Koji Kondo. Koji Kondo is recognized as one of the most influential composers in video game history. Many of the most known music from The Legend Of Zelda and Mario franchise is composed by him.
I would say that from here, we are going to see an evolution in composition. Today, many games are well-recognized thanks to the music.
Space Invaders 1978
Super Mario Bros 1985
Most recognizable soundtrack video games
|Super Mario Bros
|Overworld Theme (1985)
|The Legend Of Zelda
|Main theme (1986)
|Metroid Title Theme (1986)
|Tetris Theme (1989)
|Street Fighter 2
|Guile’s theme (1991)
|Sonic The Hedgehog
|Green Hill Zone Theme (1991)
|Corridors Of Time (1995)
|Final Fantasy VII
|One-Winged Angel (1997)
|Halo: Combat Evolved
|Halo Theme (2001)
|Marty O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori
|Dearly Beloved (2002)
Does music help you focus on video games?
Music has been an excellent motivator in many things in life. It can influence how you feel, and it also can impact your moods. In a study from the Academy of Finland, researchers found that music helps to stimulate the brain. Prof. Petri Toiviaienen from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland mention the following about the research:
“Our results show for the first time how different musical features activate emotional, motor and creative areas of the brain. We believe that our method provides more reliable knowledge about music processing in the brain than the more conventional methods.”
In video games, music has a unique role, and it’s to help you focus on each level. Many times the video game music is made that you can connect with each stage or the characters. For example, every time you are in a boss stage, you get motivated to defeat him, and music gives the extra concentration you need. The music motivates you, and it helps to get your full attention. Dark Soul bosses have been the most incredible soundtrack I ever heard while fighting the gigantic monsters.
Another example would be the soundtrack from Hollow Knight. There is no way you cannot focus on the game with that music. It immerses you in the gameplay and the story. I personally can love a game if it have a great soundtrack.
Dark Souls 3 Boss Music
Hollow Night Dirmouth
Is gaming music good for studying?
Of course, video game music is an excellent tool for studying. I find a perfect combination of nostalgia, and that is primarily instrumental. I use gaming music not just for studying but also to meditate, sleep, and whenever I want to be calm. Sometimes, I play the Mario Kart 8 soundtrack if I want to finish a paper or I need to get things done. I feel that I’m in a race to finish what I need to do. In other words, video game music makes me feel that I’m in a game when I’m doing my work, and I want to get to a new level or just beat the boss. It gives me the same effect as I’m playing a game. and I can get to the “zone.”
In conclusion, video game music is good for many things, such as helping you focus or relax. Also, it has been a great addition to creating a unique atmosphere in each video game. These days, people enjoy this music, and it is all about nostalgia. Yes, we love to listen to the music that we grew up listening to, and it has served well in my life. In my opinion, there is going to be a time when everyone will be able to recognize video game music. It has become as popular as movie soundtracks. And again, the main thing why it is so good is because of the nostalgia. I feel safe having great memories and peace listening to many of these themes—That’s why video game music is soo good.
Here is a good video I created of music that you can use to relax and study.
Mention in the comment why you think that music is important not just for video games but also for your lives. Here I have a list of the best video games soundtracks and also one with the best composers. Leave a comment if you want to comment about why video game music is good.