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How video games transformed music

Video game

Video games have been the soundtrack of youth since the 1980s, and as these young people have come of age they have brought that culture with them, part of which is music. Those repetitive sounds of titles on the SNES or Playstation have had a major impact on the direction music has taken over the last decade or more, especially in the realms of EDM and electronica.

Some artists wear this their games-based musical upbringing on their sleeve, with acclaimed producer Burial telling Mark Fisher of The Wire that “a lot of my drums are just people picking up new ammo and weapons in games”. The artist even went and sampled sounds form the Metal Gear Solid franchise in tracks such as ‘Archangel’ and ‘Distant Lights’.

Video games have moulded young minds to accept and appreciate the unnatural electronic sounds that could be produced by these limited games consoles, in the same way that electric guitar was accepted by those that grew up in the 60s and 70s. The noughties saw the charts dominated by bland pop acts, but in games young people could explore new fascinating worlds both on the screen and in their ears.

As the world moved online, and computers have become more advanced the sounds utilised in games has similarly transformed from the 8-bits beeps and bleeps or yore, to modern video game soundtracks that can be scored like films. However, no matter the production value, the nature of gaming from everything from the latest Resident Evil to a basic online casino gaming, repetition is and subtle sound evolution are key – something you can hear throughout the most interesting electronic tracks.

As video games have become an ever more dominant form of entertainment, they have proved to be a new avenue for up-and-coming producers to find new fans. Many people have “discovered” their new favourite band and resultant rabbit-hole of musical exploration via a television advertisement, whether it was for the latest iPod or online casinos in South Africa, and now video games offer the same opportunities. Video games are a global phenomenon and so will hear the music of a popular game than will ever see a particular region-targeted television advert, and for musicians this is a fantastic opportunity to reach new fans.

Sometimes the music in a game will have a profound effect on the player, with London-born producer Matt Farthing explaining to Mixmag that the heavy “proto-techno” in Streets Of Rage 2 had a huge impact on the direction his life took. Not everyone’s experience will be so profound, but there is no escape from gaming huge impact on music for this generation and the next.

Image by DG-RA

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