Music and its Impact on the Gaming Industry

Does a video game’s soundtrack go hand in hand in making a game succesful?

Yes.

Music can influence emotions in such a drastic way that it’s amazing really.

My first memory of a game with a memorable sound track would have to be the phenomenal Final Fantasy VII.

Even now, I find myself humming a song from the game unknowingly. But the soundtrack to that game, as well as the story telling and the dialog, made that game a success. The music of Final Fantasy VII has been turned into orchestral arrangements and symphonies play them around the world. The same can be said for the Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. The music of that game haunts me on occasion and brings back great memories of my brother and myself playing through it together. The sound track to that game also influenced it’s success too I believe.

But today, I think we are beginning to see a lack of the emphasis on the importance of the video game sound track. Games now are not really about the music while they are more about the intense realism of the graphics and game play. How many times can we hear a generic war theme in every Call of Duty installment?

This saddens me, because game music is just not what it used to be. There are still a handful of companies that still keep their music on a high standard, such as Blizzard, Bioware,  Bungii, and Rockstar when we talk about original scores. But Nintendo tends to just re-use the same scores over and over again and just remix them. I don’t think I have heard an original Mario song since back in the day with Super Mario World. How many times can you just re-use the typical ba-du-ba-da-ba-ba– ba?

Right now as I write this, I’m listening to the Minecraft sound track by C418. Absolutely phenomenal stuff. It’s all synth based mixed with piano, but it suits the game so incredibly well. It makes me want to go build.The sound track is so simple, but like Final Fantasy VII and Ocarina of Time, it encompasses the essence of the game that makes it so addicting and wonderful.

Music has a surprisingly large impact on video games, and I hope that video game companies now recognize this when creating their games. The music potential now is so much greater than it used to be just fifteen years ago. We don’t use anymore 8-bit, 16-bit, or 32-bit music anymore. Now, the music is symphonic based. Epic. Large. Impactful.

But is this better than what can be found on the Super Nintendo or Playstation? Are we losing the tight and simple theme music that we once had because of this?

It’s an interesting thing to think about.

Dooo be doobie doooo

Turn the page, wash your hands.

“I’ll never get one of those. I like having the BOOK on my SHELF.” I once said this when talking to someone about the Amazon Kindle. Well, I must say that I have taken back that comment and fully apologize to Amazon for doubting their magnificent little reading device. I love my Kindle.

One would think that reading a book on an electronic device wouldn’t work. I hate it when I have to read material for class on the internet. It just doesn’t keep my attention as well, and it’s sometime just hard to read. Well, when I first started reading on my Kindle, that was the mindset I was in when I began reading. It is the exact opposite of what I thought it would be. After reading a couple of books on my Kindle, it’s hard for me to read print books now. There’s something about the e-ink technology that the Kindle has that actually makes reading easier on my eyes, and easier to follow.

But the Kindle is just one small example of something big that’s been taking over the media industry. Digital Distribution.

Instead of purchasing physical books, I’m finding myself buying e-books instead. They go onto one device, and I can delete them and get them back however many times I want due to the Cloud based system Amazon uses to distribute. I’ve already gone to just downloaded music via i-tunes instead of purchasing their physical counter-parts. And I’m even buying video games digitally now through Steam and not second guessing myself.

If someone asked me a year ago how I felt about digital distribution, I would have told them that I see it going no where. Now I’m eating my own words because it’s actually all I use when purchasing media (with the exception of comic books, which I still hold strong to not purchasing digitally.)

But, I believe that it is the way of the future. Granted, I’m sure physical media will never disappear, but I believe that most will be spending their money via digital transactions. It’s more convenient and for the most part cheaper. On Steam for example, each week they have sales for video games that sometime mark down games that will sell retail for $49.99 for $15.00. Steam also does large bundles of video games for a discount price. Also, if you need to make more space on your computer for something else, just go ahead and uninstall the game. If you want to get the game again, just go to your games library and re-install it. No more sitting at the computer waiting for the prompt to insert “disc #2”. It can also keep your save files on your system JUST IN CASE you want to re-install the game later to play. The Kindle is the same way with books.

One thing about the Kindle that might seem a little odd upon hearing is that I don’t like turning pages anymore. Sounds funny right? Such a small task turns into a hindrance? Yeah, I know. But I find the one button click of page turning to be very nice. It also helps me stay into the book without taking me out of the story by turning the page. It sounds weird, I know. But once I started doing it, it’s hard to go back. For example, I’m reading Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson currently. It’s a 1000 page door stopper and it’s a pretty good book so far. But like I said, it’s a door stopper, so it’s a HUGE hard back book. The pages are big with a small font, and it’s hard to read comfortably while in bed. And I find it almost laborious to read now that I’ve read books on my Kindle. The Kindle is a small portable size, so no matter what book you may buy, the Kindle’s size will never change. You never have to worry about lugging around a large hardback book again.

Digital media is here to stay. And I’m not afraid of it being around. The collectors may not like it, but they are not the majority of consumers. If you’re skeptical of digital media, borrow someones Kindle and give it a try. Download Steam (http://www.steampowered.com) and see what it has to offer. I KNOW you have i-tunes, so go browse the music store and see if you like it.

I can call myself a supporter of the future of digital distribution. How about you?

And let me reiterate one more time of how much I LOVE MY KINDLE.