Some Game Soundtrack History For Your Afternoon

Hey, hey! 

For a Digital Artefact this semester I’m researching the importance, the effect, nostalgia and really anything I find myself going down a rabbit hole about in relation to Game Media – specifically Game Scores/Soundtracks. 

“I will be writing about and analysing popular soundtracks, scores and sounds from video games to uncover the reasoning for this. I will be conducting textual analysis of games, exploring the love and hype around their musical attributes, and questioning why that is. For example, what makes this soundtrack stand out? How does it make you feel? I will be using this blog to publish posts doing as such, along with my content based Instagram, Simply Taylorlani, where I will be sharing more casual content about game music.” 

Video Game Music Pitch

TODAY – SOME HISTORY 

Video Game Music can be traced back to around as early as 1951. However, according to what I’ve found, the earliest video games were produced without sound, and in 1972 Pong was released, which is the first game with sound effects. Pong 1972 is a table tennis arcade style video game of simplistic style. 

John Wall, award-winning and BAFTA nominated composer known for the scores of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, III, & IV, Mass Effect I & II, the Myst series, Jade Empire and several other franchises – “Playing all those arcade games, I never even paid attention to the music, It just sounded like sounds to me. However, you know all the tunes. It’s so funny. The bleeps and bloops, they kind of invade your brain.” 

Video Game Music wasn’t originally created for intense feeling purposes, however later developed to retain that importance. An example of this is the Russian folk song used in the game Tetris. However, while this started to gain value, video games had limiting hardware. 

“Concert halls around the country took note, and in 2005, Wall and Tallarico launched Video Games Live. The event features some of the world’s finest orchestras performing some of the world’s most popular video game music. For the first time in years, professional musicians are receiving the kind of audience energy they’ve craved.”

HISTORY OF NINTENDO SOUNDTRACKS – 

One of the most impactful soundtracks of my childhood and even adulthood has been Nintendo. I really grew up with it, and it was pretty much everywhere. If I’m being honest having an elder brother, with a ten year age gap, probably aided in this too. I have used Nintendo as my primary example throughout this DA simply because it is what I love when it comes to scores I listen to outside of the game. 

Koji Kondo, who wrote tracks for Super Mario Bros. in the 1990s, which was still a time where music was considerably an afterthought. “Kondo, however, felt differently: ‘I wanted to create something that had never been heard before, where you’d think, “this isn’t like game music at all…”’, he said in a 2007 interview with Wired.” Kondoreally wanted you to feel through the music, a ripe example of this being the score used when swimming in order to achieve “dancing through water”. 

Game Soundtracks have very much developed pretty far these days, in fact it is a pretty integral part of the whole game production process. It is used to invoke emotions, to hide clues and advance game play just as a basic line of point compared to when it was first introduced. I have no doubt that this upward slope in development will continue in the future. 

REFERENCES 

Fritsch, M. (2013). History of video game music. In Music and Game (pp. 11–40). Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden.

How Nintendo changed the course of music history. (n.d.). Frieze.Com. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from https://www.frieze.com/article/nintendo-music-super-mario-bros-metroid-game-soundtrack

Jack Wall – IMDb. (n.d.). Imdb.Com. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0908410/

NPR. (2008, April 13). The evolution of video game music. NPR. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89565567

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