Game Music

Games are interactive films. Having studied composition for film I know about the interaction between moving images and music. I'm interested in how the interactive nature of games is related to the music. With more and more book/film/game projects, such as the Harry Potter® series, Lord of the Rings® and Star Wars®, the use of film/game music in games/films is increasing.

Game music is interactive; to an extent, you can choose when to move from scene to scene. You might argue that, as a gamer, you're being a composer/arranger by choosing when to move to the next scene and hence deciding when to move to the next music cue.

In games like Shadowbane™, "the first dynamic MMO to allow the players to affect the world.";

"Much of the land [...] is player-owned and player-controlled, so as Empires and Kingdoms begin to form, you can expect the worlds to be constantly changing, making it very exciting and sometimes even dangerous to explore."

Do you just cut the music to another clip or try to make the music so it makes sense? The music/game has to make sense! If you cut or change the music mid-scene' then the player might lose their flow of thought, become removed from being immersed in the flow of the story. Generally, changes happen much more frequently in games than in films, and the composer can't determine exactly when the changes will happen (the player does that) so they have to think alot about how different music clips (or "cues") relate, interact, start and finish. If, as a gamer, you can move from one scene to another at any point...then the music can change at any point too, and has to make as much sense as the visual change.

Using Final Fantasy® (which is a Role Playing Game, or RPG) as an example, a player (character) will encounters up to 20 fights within one scene, and everytime a fight starts it will cut out and into a fight scene piece of music. suddenly stopping the main song and going into different music, it was almost like a skipping track. The way final fantasy did it was a main song; perhaps you are strolling in the forest and you hear slow peaceful music, but if you encounter a fight, it would suddenly start a fast upbeat cue, drums bashing, bass blazing. Role Playing Games (Final Fantasy, Zelda™...) allow players to be a certain character carry out tasks, or "quests". Other types of game include 'platform' (e.g. Mario Kart™), fighting (e.g. Street Fighter™). Playing the Final Fantasy series of games may be akin to watching a long movie since game players follow a story, whilst some games may involve players doing the same thing(s) over and over again, for example buying weapons and armour. Some story lines are free whilst others are relatively restrictve. Interview with game composer Mark Griskey
(acessed 1st Feb 2006)

"KOTOR II, like its predecessor, has a truly interactive and open-ended storyline. Does the music reflect this in any way, or function interactively for the user?
The music system for KOTOR II is relatively simple but it works effectively for the title. The gameplay in KOTOR II is very open ended. The player can chose which planets to go to next and the dialog choices will affect the plot, particularly in terms of whether one chooses the Dark Side or Light Side, but the major plot events are still connected to specific locations. Because of this, I was able to take the plot into account when composing the music for the different planets. Theme music for the main characters was triggered during some of the in-game cut scenes as well as some stingers for certain game events that we felt should be punctuated with musical gestures-- battle loops are triggered when the player enters a battle sequence."

"Just as the Star Wars movies have themes based on particular characters, did you choose this thematic form of composition for the characters in KOTOR II?
Yes, I created themes for many of the main characters in KOTOR II. I also created a player theme that I used throughout the game. I took elements from the player theme and incorporated them into the area themes for different locations in the game. This helped to create a sense of continuity and immerse the player into the gameplay."

IGN- videos for Final Fantasy XII on Playstation® - IGN- Final Fantasy games - - -

Video Game Music...Gamespot- a history of game music (source of quotes below)

1985; "Nintendo releases Super Mario Bros. for the NES. ...composer Shigeru Miyamoto....Constantly shifting tone to match the action onscreen...a new kind of
synthesis with the gameplay. and sound game sound design
begins to move in a new direction, away from cinematic conventions
and toward something altogether new."

1987; "Final Fantasy Debuts; Nobuo Uematsu breaks entirely new ground
with his sweeping and cinematic musical scores..."

1991; "The Mean Streets of Rage; Sega releases Streets of Rage for the Genesis system.
A classic side-scrolling beat-'em-up, the game's techno soundtrack takes full advantage
of the Genesis system's advanced sound hardware. The songs include rumbling
drum samples, sticky melodies, and innovative use of stereo effects."

1994; "Final Fantasy's Apex; Character-specific leitmotivs recur throughout gameplay,
and the sheer variety of styles employed is audacious"

1995; "Sony PlayStation Arrives; Sony releases the 32-bit PlayStation in the US
in September at a price of $299. The 24-channel sound chip provides CD-quality
stereo sound and has built-in support for digital effects such as reverb and looping"

1996; "Psygnosis unveils WipeOut XL for the PlayStation. The kicking techno soundtrack includes contributions from marquee names such as The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy,
and Future Sound of London. You can even choose the track you want to listen to as
you race, which truly makes the music seem more important to gameplay." - "OverClocked ReMix is a website dedicated to reviving the video and computer game music of yesterday, and reinterpreting that of today, with new technology & capabilities. This site's mission is to prove that this music is not disposable or merely just background, but is as intricate, innovative, and lasting as any other form." - "The Wingless and Pixietricks discuss the world of OverClocked ReMix, a community dedicated to the appreciation and reinterpretation of video game music."

AudioGang - "The Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.) is a non-profit organization established to educate the masses in regards to interactive audio...Video games, websites, location based entertainment, PDA's, cell phones, toys, handhelds, edutainment, gambling machines and/or any other forms of interactive entertainment or media are covered under the G.A.N.G. umbrella"

VideoGamePianist; 1) 'popularize video-game music By performing and recording music from game soundtracks inc Super Mario Brothers, Final Fantasy, Halo 2. 2) enhance the image of the piano and to make the piano a more mainstream instrument'.....3) "popularize classical music by performing video game music; video game music is performed on classical instruments, such as a piano or a full orchestra. [...]. Additionally, they will realize that pianos and orchestras perform classical music as well as video game music, and that will get people interested in classical music!"; 'Major U.S. video game music concert tour; think music concert, theatrical stage show, and interactive video game all wrapped into one. A handful of lucky audience members will be selected to come up on stage and actually play a video game while the orchestra plays interactively with them!'; "As Gizmodo is to gadgets, so Kotaku is to computer games. Edited by Brian D. Crecente, Kotaku provides hourly links and commentary for obsessive gamers—and explores the cultural ramifications interesting enough to attract a wider audience."

MMORPGs (massively multi-player online role playing games);

Anarchy Online (Copyright Funcom 1999 - 2005)

Shadowbane (trademark of Wolfpack Studios, Inc)

world of warcraft (trademark of Blizzard Entertainment inc, 2007)

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