Music’s effects in gaming


A symphony orchestra, one that could be used for creating a soundtrack. Source: Delaware Public Media

Ethan Clark, Staff Reporter

Music is one of the most diverse ways of connecting with an audience. An artist can work their magic to convey precise and forceful emotions with so much variety in instruments, vocals, and notes. The media in which this artistic form shines brightest is gaming. Music has had a long relationship with video games, even back to the basic Pong or Asteroid, in which certain sound bites are played for successful maneuvers and others to indicate failure. Music has since evolved from the rhythmic bits, to simple sound loops, to actual sound tracks and even orchestras. These improvements led to new forms of development, and even games based around their soundtracks. To find out how these changes affect players, several students listened to a variety of handpicked video game music, and described the feelings they evoked to help better understand if each soundtrack hit or missed the mark on what they were trying to convey.

The first song was “The Abyss Watchers” from “Dark Souls 3”, a song meant to convey tragedy and betrayal of a group of close knit warriors. The test audience felt a sense of solemness and almost zen, with one of the more creative members describing it as, “Weird, makes me want to die.”

An Abyss Watcher, featured in Dark Souls III. Photo credit: Dark Souls Wiki

The second song was the “Super Mario Galaxy Theme,” meant to show wonder and excitement at the many worlds. The audience found it to have an inspirational tone but oddly enough felt as it had a medieval tone, with an individual saying “I feel like I’m at a castle and I’m the king.”

The third was “Dragonborn” from “Skyrim”, a mysterious song about a prophetic hero and an unknown future warrior sent to fight dragons. Most people actually found this song annoying and boring, with only one person feeling a sense of adventure and boldness.

Fourth was “Ludwig the Holy Sword” from “Bloodborne: The Old Hunters”, a chilling song and favorite among many about the terror of a ghastly and grisly desecrated warrior, fallen to a curse. Most people felt stressed and a sense of eeriness, lining up with the games’s haunting themes. One listener even said “It made me feel like I just saw an exorcism.”

Finally, “Hopes and Dreams” from “Undertale” was a final boss song meant to give players a sense of determination, surprise, and hope, despite the grimness of the situation. The majority of the audience felt a sense of happiness, and a sense of surprise from the violin transition to guitar riff towards the beginning of the song.

Not all of these songs hit their mark for some people, but not all songs will. Some are even made to subliminally affect people playing the game without them noticing. However, every song is unique and the true best songs are the ones that stick with us long after you turn them off.