Arcade Games

Why Is Music Important in Video Games?

It is quite obvious that all gamers like it when video game developers do not forget about good music. In most cases, soundtracks in video games perfectly complement the gameplay, but have you ever thought that music is far from just a background? In most cases, it determines whether you like the game as a whole or not.

Music as Trigger

All marketers and psychologists know such a term as a trigger. It is an extremely flexible concept of a random stimulus that can be meaningful to the respondent. In fact, this is what should break through your emotions and draw your attention to any product or service. For example, it can be a nice red tint on the packaging of a dark chocolate bar, a bright shirt of a sales assistant, a familiar guitar riff in an advertisement, and so on.

Music in games, as a rule, plays the role of that trigger. Each note, melody, harmony, or chord is important – with these specific sets of sounds, the composer seeks to evoke certain emotions in you. In the end, each musical instrument even has its own features of sound that evoke certain associations – in other words, each instrument has its own trigger. That is why the musical accompaniment in video games often plays a much more important role in shaping our emotions than the picture on the monitor screen.

Why is The Last of Us gameplay sad and melancholy, even if you are just wandering around the bush? Because cold, gloomy cellos constantly sound in the background, emphasizing all the gloom of those locations that you happen to explore. However, at the same time, a little later, the famous scene with the giraffe takes place, accompanied by an encouraging musical motive that evokes a feeling of childish naive tenderness and also reminds us that even during the end of the world, beauty does not go anywhere.

Can you imagine if the developers inserted some clown playing the tuba instead of this music? That would ruin the whole atmosphere, wouldn't it?

Musical Decision

At the other extreme of the spectrum is, for example, Hotline Miami 2 with 50 songs of glorious, powerful 80s techno that contradicts the story and often feels confusing.

When the music does not represent anything interesting and is the usual monotonous background noise, the gameplay turns out to be dummy, meaningless, and uninteresting. Just half an hour after the start of such a game the player will be tired of it.

Think of all your favorite video games. What if Valiant Hearts or Mass Effect didn't have a wonderful musical score? Or if, for example, instead of the ringing familiar to us, announcing the death of Mario, we would hear deathly silence? It would be kind of different games, wouldn't it? Therefore, even if you are a gamer who does not consider it necessary to rank games as art, you still can hardly deny that music significantly affects the gaming experience.

Indeed, sometimes, it is good music that saves a game from shame and oblivion, and vice versa.