In Luke Cuddy’s book, ‘Halo and philosophy,’ he raises the essential and philosophical question that is found in the forefront of every human being’s conscience, are music and video games a match made in heaven…or hell? (Cuddy, 2011 pp.61)
In all seriousness, the gaming landscape is enormous, with 1.2 billion players, it consumes more than 17% of the globe and what’s scary is that these are statistics from 2013 (Venture Beat, 2013). It is a reality that gaming has become a dominant media form and indeed an ecosystem, containing interactions that are unique, dialogic and communication methods that have never been encountered before and virtual environments that allows players to escape reality for hours on end (Islas, 2016 pp.83). With all this in mind, a necessity for a universal digital literacy has never been so important and relevant. With billions of people communicating in a way that is unique to the gaming community, those who choose to distance themselves from gaming will be unable to interact with billions of people on certain levels.
Within the ecosystem that is gaming, sound and music are elements which when combined, enhance the players experience and help the creators communicate with the consumers (Havryliv, 2005 pp. vii). The music and sound included becomes part of the vocabulary of the game, and there are many elements involved in each music piece or sound effect such as non-dynamic -where the player has no control over sound production-, adaptive -the sound is produced based on the players actions- and interactive diegetic and non-diegetic sound (Collins, 2008 pp. 126).
The question on whether music and video games complement each other is open-ended, but in the opinion of Karen Collins, they don’t. “Certain games are associated with certain music genre’s…setting expectation for the game and limiting the player’s experience,” (Collins, 2008 pp.117). Cuddy however offers the argument of ‘mood setting’ and the role music plays in building suspense and providing gamers with a full experience (Cuddy, 2011 pp.63).
The locus of this question lies in the creator’s concern for the consumer, whereby game designers are aiming to find the best possible way to connect with their players. This funnels back down to the point of digital literacy, whereby it is not just the responsibility of consumers to be digitally literate but it is essential that creators of content are too.
Collins, K. 2008, Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Cuddy, L. 2011, ‘Halo and Philosophy’, Open Court Publishing, Chicago
Havryliv, M. 2005, ‘Playing with Audio: The Relationship Between Music and Games’, University of Wollongong Thesis Collection, pp. 1-85.
Islas, O. 2016, ‘Understanding Media: The extensions of Man (1964), the foundations of Marshal Mcluhan’s tetrad’, Explorations in Media Ecology, vol.15, no. 1, pp. 81-91
Venture Beat 2013, More than 1.2 billion people are playing games, viewed 31 August 2017, < https://venturebeat.com/2013/11/25/more-than-1-2-billion-people-are-playing-games/>
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