The Music Industry: Utilising Videogames

TThe importance of videogames to the music industry is often underplayed, seldom registered by fans of both industries. Much work goes into making a videogame into a final product ready for mass consumption, but some aspects are never really thought about when people are enjoying the result.

LA Noire: Soundtrack to Success Picture: IGN

Music and the role that it plays in everyone’s favourite pastime is one such aspect, and I will shine some light on the ideas behind the subtle link between these two mammoths of media.

A game’s soundtrack is integral to immersing the player in the world they find themselves in. It has many obvious uses – like a thunderous, empowering score during a huge battle sequence as the player frantically fights for survival and shoots for victory despite overwhelming odds.

But there are also subtleties at work – quiet, psychologically disturbing undertones – as a player slowly turns a corner not knowing what may jump out of the dark. So, just as in films, videogames employ a range of different music to enhance the public’s experience, ultimately immersing them into the world and storyline that has been created for their enjoyment.

L.A Noire, by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games of Grand Theft Auto fame, is a great example of a game that utilises music to its advantage. Featuring an original score by British composer Simon Hale and songwriting by British band, The Real Tuesday Weld, the music in this game aids significantly the player’s immersion into the post-WWII Hollywood setting as players take on the role of Cole Phelps of the LAPD in trying to solve various crimes. The 1940s setting is brought to life by the audio heard throughout the game which helps to anchor the player to the setting.

However, L.A Noire is also of note when talking about videogame soundtracks, thanks to its novel use of the soundtrack as a device to propel the gameplay forward. When investigating a crime scene, faint music can be heard which alerts the player to clues critical to solving the case; the music only ends when all clues have been discovered. The evidence clearly demonstrates the importance of a good soundtrack to the success of a videogame, and helped propel L.A Noire to great success.

If I’m not convincing you of the importance of music is to videogames and their success – or lack thereof – then consider this: in May 2011 world-renowned metal band, Avenged Sevenfold, wrote and recorded a new song specifically for Call Of Duty Black Ops (more specifically the game’s Escalation downloadable content pack).

This could be taken as an indication that the music industry, itself, sees, or is at least beginning to see, videogames as an alternative distribution method, or a new way to increase its fan base.

Dotted Music’s latest columnist – Alexander Goodenough – will discuss the relationship between the videogame industry and the music industry in his column. Alexander is a freelance writer whose interests range from videogames and films to music; he has experience in magazine-editing and graphic design.