Thursday, 12 February 2009

If music be the food of games then play on.

Hmmm, sound in games is tricky as I tend to play most games muted with my own music blaring in the background. I do this for a variety of reasons -
1. The music is repetitive and boring
2. The music is distracting
3. I just plain don’t like it
But more often than not I mute it because it scares me less.

This is usually the case within fps games, I like playing them but they scare the shit out of me. There is nothing worse than creepy music and the sounds of some monster chasing you down a corridor. So if I mute the game there is no creepy music or sounds of monsters chasing me down corridors.
But then I guess it means that the music is effective as the purpose of it is to create suspense and make the game more thrilling.

However I tend to enjoy the music more in strategy games and RPG’s.
Games such as Age of Empires II was quite possibly the defining game music of my childhood. I adored it. Unfortunately the poor specs of my pc back then meant I yet again had to mute the music and was just left with the sounds of my humble villagers.

Going back earlier, my first game music memories come from the Sega and Sinclair. Manic Miner on the Spectrum Sinclair had the most repetitive loop of music ever that was fun to begin with but the monophonic-nursery rhyme eventually drove me insane and it couldn’t be muted as it blared out from a very ancient cassette player.

The Sega Megadrive, however, had some of the best game music ever, so good, that in most cases I didn’t mute it. Micro-machines, Golden Axe and Mega-lo-mania had awesome music that was well sited to the game and improved the overall gaming experience.
But the best game music of my life so far easily has to Sonic the Hedgehog. The music and sounds to the original sonic have become infamous themselves, a defining sound that is instantly recognised by all. Let’s put it this way, I have never muted a game of Sonic … ever!

The level of importance of music in a game depends on it’s genre. Sound in needed in fps games to pinpoint enemies, RPG’s need atmospheric music and dialogue. Some series of games need to keep to a loved style such as Final Fantasy games.

Music is important as it sets the scene and creates suspense. A definitive piece of game music can make a break the popularity of a game. Classic, unforgettable games such as Tetris, Super Mario and Sonic have epic, memorable theme music that will be with us always.

But then some games rely on pre-released music such as GTA, Saints Row, Motorstorm etc. within games such as Grand Theft Auto, the player can cycle through radio stations of popular music, most racing games also include this feature. So not all memorable games have their own composed music as I will always associated Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding’ with GTA San Andreas.

Whether we notice it or not music is a key aspect of games. We may mute it or love it but it’s what makes up our individual gaming experience.

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