One of the major attributes of games is the melodious music that play in the background. I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes don’t always notice music in many of my games or I’m one of those people that mutes it time to time (or at least lowers the volume). For games like Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Half Life 2 however, without music, I wouldn’t have enjoyed those games half as much as I did. Without my Classical or Diamond City Radio in Fallout 4, I can’t say I would have dedicated the same amount time scouring the wastelands as I did. Without the epic Gothic music in Skyrim, how else would I have become the Dragonborn?
Music and soundtracks in games, are much more than window dressing, they are integral parts of the experience. Theatrical in nature, music has taken on a life of it’s own and without it, in my opinion games just wouldn’t be the same.
Music helps unlock more dimensions in games. It takes the player to greater heights. Just as melodic music builds up during an epic scene in a movie like Dunkirk, music can help transport you to the scene and alert you to changes in plot and narrative. A simple stroll through a map, as in any Final Fantasy title, can instantly be transformed into a battle with the signature battle music that plays and the screen shattering transition that alerts players to be ready to fight.
In the same vein, places and events can be brought to life by music. The institute in Fallout 4 is marked by whimsical and low key music. This is a place of science and wonder and the music the developers chose really captures that. Each cord and note can send a different message to players. Sometimes the music denotes safety and exploration as in the Institute, while other times it can warn of doom and impending violence. If you find this interesting, you may also be interested in investigating this site.
Music can function as an emotional signifier. There are times when a higher tempo is warranted, as in action scenes or fighting. High tempo music can help rev up players to the level needed to achieve success. It can help players emotionally and physically adapt to the upcoming or current scene.
Music enables players to immerse themselves in the world at hand. Fallout 4 does this effortlessly. The music style has always been dated, taking players back to a futuristic version of the 1950’s or 1960’s America. It captures the period of the Red Scare, when Americans were terrified of Nuclear War, and assists the player in accepting that this was the world destroyed by nuclear fallout and you are exploring what remains of it.
The world is a busy and chaotic place. We have jobs, kids, and relationships to worry about. The stressful car ride, homework session, or dinner time can all undeniably be made better by music. We use music as a great escape. It helps free us from the hardships of the world and shut it out. Games help us do the same thing. They allow us to relax and enter fantasies and realms of limitless possibilities. Music and games beautifully intertwine to help players shut out the world, play and have fun.
Finally, without music in video games, what would games even be? I couldn’t imagine playing any game or watching a movie without music to set the tone. Music compliments video games, it helps immerse players in new worlds and prepares them for the tasks that lie ahead. Without oldies music in Fallout 4 or the epic Gothic music of Skyrim, I would not have enjoyed these two games as much as I did. The music helped me escape and made these games more real for me. Without music games wouldn’t be whole, they’d be missing that extra oomph, and they’d be nothing more than silent pieces of art.
Do you find that music helps you get into games better? Do you have a game where the music was really memorable for you? Do you agree that music helps immerse players in games? Let us know in the comments section below!