The use of music in video games can make the difference between an uninteresting scene at the end of a level or an emotional ending that makes you want to play more. The use of music in video games is similar to how music is used in the movies. The importance of game soundtracks and the gift that goes into making them work within the game is not left without recognition.
But what are the beginnings of music in video games? What are some of the landmark moments and games in gaming history that helped develop this element? To find the answers to all these questions, read the following brief history of music in video games.
Video Game Music in the 70s and 80s
The first appearance of video games as we know was in the late 1970s with arcade games and their console versions, becoming a real hit. Music in these games was created using simple synthetic chips and therefore this style of music became known as ‘chiptune’. This was a big step from the silence or basic sounds of early games. A good example of a basic sounds game is Atari’s famous Pong. Alongside with the development of the technology in the 1980s came the development of music in video games. The dynamic soundtracks started to become the norm, using music to convey certain information to the user. R.B.I. Baseball from 1987 was an early example of how music was used to reflect the actions of the player.
Video Game Music in the 90s
With the use of more advanced sound chips in computers like the Commodore Amiga and consoles like the Sony Mega Drive, video game music composers could get more ambitious. One of those composers was Yuzo Koshiro who used the Mega Drive hardware to create techno-styled catchy soundtracks for The Revenge of Shinobi and Streets of Rage. These soundtracks introduced electro basslines and trancey electronic sounds that gained their popularity popular in 1990s STG sub-genre. Because of the lack of memory in the consoles, the repeated use of certain phrases was more than needed, and this led to the creation of numerous addictive classics as the Super Mario Bros soundtrack.
Video Game Music in the 2000s and Beyond
With the beginning of the 2000s came the introduction of the Dolby Digital software. This transformed both the complexity and depth of game soundtracks, with musicians like Trent Reznor composing video game music. Games such as Halo, have been praised for their soundtracks, bringing an emotional edge to gaming and increasing the game’s overall quality. With the next generation gaming consoles being designed as complete entertainment systems, game soundtracks can now be treated on the same level with film soundtracks when their quality is in question.
As you can see from our brief history of video game music, the art of composing video game music has developed into an industry of its own. There are specialist composers who are experimenting and utilising new methods of making music for a completely new interactive experience.