While there are many different types of music in the world, my personal preference is video game music. While this may not be a popular perspective, I find often that video games present beautiful or intense masterpieces that stick with me far more easily than any thrown-together music in the modern world today. It can’t be definitively called a genre, because some pieces mix genres, while others merely follow them.
What sticks out to me is the sheer effort I can see the artists have put into these songs and how they balance individual song and in-game relevance in a seamless blend that is, no pun intended, music to my ears. Some of it I find soothing, others I use to pump me up, and others I just think have a great beat.
Aaron McLeran, an audio programmer for Epic Games, said, “Music plays a role in video games that is similar to the role it plays in film. Music helps define emotional cues to the player the same way it does for people viewing a film. The big difference, of course, is that video games are interactive. This is a huge challenge. You don’t know exactly what’s going to happen before it happens so you have to create more complex ‘real-time’ systems that figure out what to do when the player does something. Every game has different needs and different levels of complexity with interactive music implementation. Some games will simply play a different background piece for a level or a game state (like if you win or lose). Other games will change the music composition dynamically to reflect the intensity of combat or if the player is in stealth, or if they’re low on health, etc. There’s lots of things you can do and it’s an exciting field to be in.”
Additionally, Aaron McLeran also stated, “I actually don’t have any favorites in terms of video game music. I’m most impressed with games that create music that supports the gameplay and emotion of a game — sometimes that means the music isn’t exactly definable in terms of a ‘song.’ It’s more like a ‘music system.’ For one game I worked on, Spore, we implemented what’s called ‘Procedural’ music — music that’s created by algorithms and probability ‘on the fly.’ That’s an exciting area of music in games that I think will become more widely used in the future.”
As an audio programmer, he also said that his favorite part about it is the music writers using his technology to create even better experiences for players.
Most of the songs I like come from the Sonic the Hedgehog games, which have a reputation of being variable on overall quality, but almost always bring amazing music to the table. Enclosed I’ve put a couple of links to some of my favorites, and you can give them a try. If you like them, send an email to me, and I can send some more suggestions. If you don’t like it, then that’s okay too, send me an email with some of your favorites and I’ll try them out. My email is email@example.com.
Dreams of an Absolution(LBvsJS remix)
I Am…All of Me
Aquarium Park Act 1
Knight of the Wind
In the Final
Never Turn Back
Three Minutes Clapping