We praise video games for being visually stunting or deeply immersive, but often neglect the music aspects of games. Music sets the tone for the events happening on the screen. It has the ability to accent dramatic events, give musical themes for characters or locations, cause a ton of tension, or energize players to victory. It’s effects goes unnoticed at times, but music in video games are vital to the overall experience.
It’s importance can be seen rippling across the industry. Driving simulator franchise, Gran Turismo, was notorious for modifying soundtracks between North American and European versions the same game. Developer RockStar made certain music tracks exclusive content by allowing only GTA IV‘s Special Edition copies to play them.
If used properly, music can have an impactful effect during gameplay, enhancing the mission, level, or set piece so well that it becomes an essential component to the overall experience. Saint’s Row: The Third proves this with a thrilling mission starting off skydiving into a penthouse to clear it out of a rival gang. The feeling of total badass-ness and domination is intensified by Kayne West’s “Power” playing in the background, a song so saturated in self-glorification and aggression that players feel unstoppable. Far Cry 3 takes a similar approach to hyping up a mission. The player is let loose to burn drug crops with a flamethrower with the very appropriate reggae dubstep mash-up “Make It Bun Dem” by Skrillex and Damian Marley.
There’s are hundreds of example of music boosting enjoyment during gameplay because nearly every video game uses music in this way. So the next time you’re blasting through zombies or beating your high score, make sure to listen while you play. You might discover it’s the best part of the game.