Sunday, October 16, 2016

Why Games?

I was talking with Student in Blue in the comments section to "Music for Non-Musicians" and promised an article dealing with "Why Video Game Music?" We basically know why you may want music for a game. It glues scenes together. It provides emotional context. It ties the game to cultural signifiers. And so on - so I'm coming at it from the other angle. Why would you want a game for your music?

I hope that sharing this perspective will provide insight to someone who is working with a composer. I don't want this post to be too long - just enough to be a conversation starter.

  1. Music is broadly split into commercial and academic branches. Video games allow a composer to get away from some of the worst aspects of academic careerism.                                                         
  2. Video games are a little bit like folk art for our generation. Not many Millennials will be familiar with their own ethnic music, but video games from their childhoods do constitute a kind of a shared culture.                                                                                                                              
  3. Game music can be a bit weird and still be appropriate. Games, like film, make audiences more receptive to that weirdness.                                                                                                                          
  4. The games audience is honest enough to let you know if your music is too weird.                                                                                                              
  5. The video game industry is more spread out. There's no one city you have to move to - like Los Angeles for film - to do games.                                                                                                                 
  6. Video games are rather democratic. There's opportunities to start small and work yourself up gradually. You're not always waiting for your one big break. It can be a gradual process, which gives you time to grow.                                                                                                                              
  7. If a game has an interactive score, its basically a new art form and that's very exciting.
Now that I've written this out, I can't say a composer's motivations are that different than anyone else's. But maybe its helps someone see the other side of the fence.

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