Blogversation – Music, Games and Culture

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So this has been stuck in my head the last few days:

For those of you not familiar, the youtube series Yogscast rose to strength on the back of its’ original narrative-take on Minecraft, and during one of their earlier videos one of the character – with a dwarf skin – bursts into sudden improvised song. The result went utterly viral (although not before they’d already gained a fair amount of followers) and now we have a “finished product” built around that spontaneous chorus of diggy-diggy hole!

Now this can hardly be said to be the first time games have influenced culture, but they go one step further when music gets involved. I’m just going to throw out a few names:

  1. Still Alive – Portal
  2. Chocobo Song – Final Fantasy
  3. Battle Theme – Pokemon Red/Blue
  4. Link’s Theme – Legend of Zelda series
  5. Dovahkiin/The Elder Scrolls Theme Tune – Skyrim
  6. Green Hill Zone – Sonic the Hedgehog

I’m guessing most of you will be able to hum more than one or two of these? Any you don’t know, there will be links below for you. They hold our attention as well as T.V. themes, film soundtracks and even music released for radio (or elsewhere, you know what I mean) and stay with us for a long time. There is, after all, a lot of opportunity for artists and composers in the gaming world, and many talented people are jumping into the market.

For example; Still Alive and Want You Gone from the Portal series were both written by an artist called Jonathan Coulton, a very famous comedy musician who generously opens all of his content under creative commons license. They were also both performed by GLADoS voice actress Ellen McClaine, who is also a classically trained and highly accomplished opera singer.

I mentioned the name Paul Romero in my last Blogversation piece. Like him, many classical composers are also finding an outlet in the gaming industry, as dramatic, full-scale orchestral productions serve the new blockbuster style of games that are being produced, the Halo series being one of the best examples for having grand, sweeping scores to accompany their narrative. Perhaps even more incredible is that gaming music is now being performed by full orchestras in concert:


As gaming assumes it’s place as the dominant narrative media, so too does it shape the culture around it. Literacy changed the world, film changed the world, and so music and art are changed and shaped by them. Now we see the dawning of a “third age” and the music and art that are shaped by it. Not just in the industry, but rapidly rising around it in the hands of talented people fighting to be heard.

On that note, anybody who needs a composer for a game they’re producing, talk to me! I know a guy.

What’s your opinion? What music stays with you, from games or not? And where do you see music going next? Join the conversation in the comments down below.

The music from the list above: