This was a difficult one, but one that I found quite rewarding just by thinking about it and considering the role of music in both games and films. In films great music does a fantastic job at setting the scene, but personally I don’t really notice it at the time. This every present music is just accepted even though the vast majority of us don’t wander round with tunes playing in our heads the whole time.

Games are different to films in many ways, but the most obvious way is interaction in games. Some games use clever techniques to procedurally modify music depending on what the player is doing. Games do this to enhance immersion playing exciting music when the there is some action, sad music when something bad happens and spooky music when danger is afoot. Some games even modify the music to give the player feedback on their state. This is great for immersion because although you’re unlikely to notice the change in music you just “feel” like something bad is going to happen, or like you need to protect or defend yourself. Bastion used these techniques in a more obvious way, by having a narrator give constant updates on what was happening. I found this a little bit gimmicky, and although Bastion is a great game the whole narrator thing seemed to take something away from the overall effect because it was too obvious. It’s like they were using the soundtrack like a sledge hammer, when a tack hammer would be far more appropriate. The best special effects are the ones that you don’t notice – but in Bastion you can’t help but notice the dynamic narration and that spoils the trick.

“The kids smashed up some boxes” – yes, I know!

I also though about the radio stations in Grand Theft Auto. I loved having the choice of changing the soundtrack and listening to some often very entertaining content – so much so that occasionally I would just park up and listen. Thinking further back – to when I was very young – whenever I think of the Streetfighter II theme I just feel awesome!

I suspect that nostalgia plays heavily into these choices

Finally though I settled on Skyrim, which has a truly epic soundtrack for an epic game.

Skyrim’s soundtrack really captures the feeling of the environment – as well as what ever is happening in the environment at that particular moment.

It really shows how far games have come as a medium in the last twenty or so years – from beeps and boops bound by technological limitations to full orchestral pieces played out dynamically depending on what is happening in your game world.

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