Music in Games
Playing Bit.Trip Beat with my friends on the Wii made me realize something about all games.
You see, the gameplay is incredibly simple. It basically feels like a one-sided Pong. We had a blast playing it though. That is, until we missed so many bits that we got sent to the “nether,” which makes all the blocks gray and turns the background into a plain black. We hated being there.
That made me realize that the appeal in Bit.Trip Beat lies in a colorful background and hypnotic soundtrack.
I always knew that visuals were important to a game, but I never thought about how important the music is. I’m not kidding when I say that Bit.Trip Beat would lose all of its appeal for me if it didn’t have music. The game even takes advantage of that by giving me the music as an incentive to stay out of the nether.
So as it turns out, music is very important in games. And I’m not just talking about rhythm games. Games have to appeal to our senses, and even if a game can entertain our sense of sight, we can easily get bored if it doesn’t have appealing sounds as well.
This doesn’t mean that every game has to have good music, but I have a good feeling that a lot of popular games wouldn’t be as popular if they didn’t have the appealing music. I can think of a few games right away that wouldn’t be as fun to me if they didn’t have as good of a soundtrack.
- I already used Bit.Trip Beat as an example, of course.
- Canabalt already has a lot of detail in the environment, but the techno song adds a good mix of tension and excitement to the whole experience. Playing with the sound off just isn’t as fun for me.
- The recently released Man in Gap would probably have struck me as boring if it didn’t have hard rock playing in the background. Every time I die, it’s like the music is cheering me on and encouraging me to play more.
It’s disappointing that a lot of flash game developers don’t seem to care about the soundtracks for their games. I’ve played quite a few games that either don’t have music, or have music that was obviously put together in no time at all. I’m sure those games would have been more popular if they had music that fit well with the themes. I can name a few of those as examples too.
- A few weeks ago I mentioned that Plain Sight would have been more fun if it had background music. It does have good sound effects, though.
- The fact that Vox Populi, Vox Dei didn’t have any music seemed a bit eerie. Admittedly that worked pretty well with the scary theme, but dying over and over while trying to get through each room got boring without any background music. I think it would have been better if it had a horror track.
The fact that music is important to games probably doesn’t come as a surprise to some of you, and I’m pretty sure I always knew that music matters, but what I’m saying is that I think a lot of people don’t realize how important it is. And I’m glad I now know this, because I’m currently making the music for a game that my friends are designing. To me I guess this means I need to take my role seriously.