The Importance of Music in Video Games

The role that music plays in video games is complex and multilayered. Video game music is used to convey a certain message about the game to the player. Without us even realizing it, it leads us throughout the entire gameplay, giving us hints, orchestrating our mood as well as the level of our engagement. The quality of the score can also be the determining factor if that game would be played by generations to come.

Getting Player’s Attention

One of the first things that get to leave an impression on the player is the music. If the music score is intriguing, energetic, and interesting to the player, he/she will be motivated to keep on playing. Sometimes, when the score is not that good but the player is still interested in the gameplay, the music would be turned off in the settings of the game. However, this almost always affects the player’s overall impression and satisfaction with the game. 

Mood Setting

The music in a video game greatly contributes to the general mood setting. The composers will use musical sequences to describe (without using actual words) the overall mood of the scene that is being played. 

Dictating The Feelings

But music doesn’t only influence the mood inside the game. It also affects the player’s feelings. More often than not, the player’s emotions are shiftings with the pace of the music inside the game. For example, if the music was very serene and eerie, and it suddenly shifts to a more louder and faster score, we would know that there is danger coming our way, and as players, we would get excited and/or agitated.

Story-Telling

The main characteristic of a good music score is that is complementary with the storyline of the video game. The role of the music is to provide the player with complete user experience, by serving as the unseen storyteller.

 For example, if we play as the character who is going through an old and abandoned house and the background music is eerie, without any further context we can assume that we are dealing with a haunted house filled with ghosts, zombies, and other creepy creatures. On the other hand, if we used that exact same scene but with soft and melancholic music, and no other context was given to us, we are bound to think that this is the character’s old home or a place of great importance.

Lead The Way

Another way that the music is used within video games is to point to a certain direction. The game will sometimes show you that you are going the right way or the wrong way by the volume going up or down.