How Does a Game's Soundtrack Affect Gameplay?

Jan 5, 2022 | 1 Votes by jose 10 rate Your vote
They say that a video game's music can make or break it. Let's discuss why it is so. WWGDB - How Does a Game's Soundtrack Affect Gameplay?

As my elders would say, Music is the language of the soul. That said though stuck with me since my childhood and thus contributed to my love for music. Although really never delving into the depths of the music field but making a point to always have a tune, song, or score playing in the background while doing something, has done wonders for my concentration and the soothing of my nerves.

Music is a catalyst that stimulates emotion in almost all of us depending of course on the situation we confront at hand and whether we use that catalyst to exhibit the good or the bad within us. This of course in gaming parlance would be a person's alignment and personality which greatly affects one's preference in Music.

So we come to the topic of using music in gaming (or in a similar fashion, in films). As mentioned, music affects emotion and one's state of mind and it is but natural for game developers to capitalize on this to enhance or provide a deeper connection and enjoyment with the game. Of course, one cannot just use any musical score or tune with a particular game or action taking place as the music or current soundtrack has to match the event to deliver the actual effects intended on the player (or as in films), the audience.

When the going gets tough, the music has to jive with it! When an emotional scene unfolds, the music as well has to weep with it. This is the main effect whether experienced consciously or unconsciously by the audience with the latter effect most of the time.

A good Soundtrack or by definition a group of tunes or any sound clip which has music and is used in the entire film or game practically makes it. The difficulty is in matching it to the specific scenes or events and if done correctly, the animation, graphic environment, dialog (spoken or text) and the backdrop tune creates a very strong combination that can make or break a game. Such is the effect of the music and this contributes a lot to the emotional state of the player which contributes a lot to his or her performance in playing the game.

How Music Affects Gaming

Great importance must be given to choosing an appropriate musical score or tune for a particular event. Also, the quality of the tune and how well it's done will determine its degree of imposition onto the player or audience and can thus no doubt heighten the emotional effect the scenes seek to portray. Most AAA big studio-developed games excel in this. The developer will take great pains to go as far as hiring composers, singers, bands, and an orchestra to accomplish the desired effect.

Star Wars is already a given but let's look at some other examples like Quake, Borderlands, and Halo. id has on many occasions hired Sonic Mayhem to create the chaotic aggressively driven manic soundtrack for Quake used during intense combat player situations. The music sets the mood of the event and encourages emotional aggression on the part of the player needed to deal with the multitude of horrific and monstrous opponents encountered (almost every minute) throughout the game.

Likewise, the game Borderlands invest heavily in its own brand of musical scores to accompany its fight scenes. The theme song of Borderlands 2 (Short Change Hero) groovily depicts the storyline of the game itself. The song and its rendering were so good that it could actually be used in mainline world music competitions and for those unfamiliar with gaming, take it as simply a music artist-released song. Created by the band "The Heavy" the song, though not formally released as a single, featured in other titles as well like the film Faster (starring The Rock) and later other game titles like Batman.

Likewise, the "Welcome to Fyrestone" cowboy/western musical score of the game depicts the atmosphere and situation in which the four heroes find themselves in. Each music is specifically matched to sections of the game to ensure the attention and immersion of the player into the game world that Borderlands portrays.

Short Change Heroes BdrLnds2

Not all games can match their overall soundtrack and scores (musical clips) very well with their games and at instances like this, end up with less immersion and pull of the player as supposedly intended. This may result in the player turning off the sound and listening to their favorite song instead to play better. The soundtrack at the specific moment must be able to portray the essence of the game itself and this is quite easier said than done. An example would be car racing games which have the notoriety of having jivvy soundtracks that distract and annoy instead of channeling the player's focus to win the race. Many other game examples can be given as to why background music is so important in playing the game.

Finally, it's hard to let go of writing an article about game music without mentioning one's beloved favorite game. You guessed it! HALO. A game so immersive, emotional, and endearing to fans and players worldwide. FYI, do you guys know that Master Chief is well, in his senior years? His name is Steve Downes and ... what the heck am I talking about, I'm getting out of topic here! For all of you Halo fans out there, a shout out to you guys - Hu-rrrah! (shame on me!). If you want really awesome game soundtrack that will really pull you into the game without requiring any other musical score to do the trick, Halo rules!

Be it a combat situation or a smoochy scene with Miss Cortana, Halo brings out the best in every Sci-Fi loving FPS player worth his (or her) salt. This is where the music can actually make grown men swoon or cry from the action-packed "The Last Spartan" to the sorrowful emotionally heartbreaking "Never Forget". Also, Halo is one of those games with a unique main theme that blends The Last Spartan with a medieval-like Gregorian Chant with awesome effects rare in gaming. Chants are very effective as well in the game as used by the Covenant Prophets to convey their messages or teachings to their follower (Sangely, Unngoy, Jackals etc...). This is one game where the music comes in at the right time and the right place.

Never Forget

There are many other games that blend their soundtrack well into the gameplay. In whatever genre the game is, be it a strategy game, an arcade, or a shooter, if the music matches, the player is automatically pulled into the game reality without realizing it. Combat games are well known for this. An example is the score for "Zero" in the game, Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, which uses a Spanish Guitar Flamenco score for its theme. The right music for the right situation motivates the player undoubtedly to do one's best.

Music is a gift to humanity, it's just up to us to make the best use of it.

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