I often find myself listening to video game music as background music while I read or write. It makes sense, most of the tunes we hear in video games were meant to be just that: background music to your adventure and experience. Having played countless video games over the year, the right video game tune can bring back a deep memory or a long forgotten emotion. I can’t imagine I am the only one, so I’ve decided that the time may be right to discuss video game music.
Why should we care?
There’s some inherently interesting about video game music. Its evolution from basic background tunes composed out limited tech to grand orchestrated ballads that overlay movie level scenes is of interest in a historical context alone. Separated from the medium, sociology has had a long interest with music; the sociology of music has been a strong and intriguing sub-field within sociology because of music’s unique ability to bring people together in a shared experience. Many social researchers examine music and live-shows as a form of collective effervescence; a shared communal event in which people come together and share a release of emotion. All of this is to say that caring about the sociology of video game music is a natural extension of sociological interest that we can look at, explore, and try to understand. With an increase in the amount musical events being formed around iconic video game series and songs (Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddess, Video Games Live, etc.), more people are coming together to share their love for video game music and video games in general. If we’re to study video games as a medium and their social elements, then certainly video game music and the shared connections they forge are of pertinent interest to us researchers.
How should we research video game music and its community? Who should lead the charge in studying video game music? Game studies researchers? Music Researchers? Sociologists? Obviously Video Game music as a genre of music it doesn’t hold all the hallmarks of the dominant genres in the industry, but it does share a considerable amount with the overarching medium as a whole. Similarly there’s a considerable amount of concerns within the subfield as well; issues of archiving tracks, legality of who owns rights to tracks, and the place of fandom within maintaining and creating new remixes and tracks around their favorite games and series.There’s a good amount of questions that one can hypothesize concerning video game music, but the first and most accessible aspect is knowing one’s field. As such, I’ve put together a small resource list for researchers and fans alike to discover new and old video game tracks.
It may not dawn upon everyone that listening to your favorite video game tunes is something one can even do. We’re fortunate to live in a time in which more or less every video game soundtrack is readily available one way or another. Here are some useful resources to listen to some great video game music that don’t require you to pirate or spend tons of cash:
VGM Radio is just that: a video game music radio station. If you’re feeling like having a mix of tunes, genres, and eras, then VGM is a great choice to let your video game music interest get set on shuffle.
As with VGM radio, RPG Gamer Radio is another great choice for a video game related radio station available for free online.
If you feel like listening to video game music on the go and have a mobile device, the Video Game Music Radio App is a great free choice. Featuring an array of channels, you’re likely to find a station that meets your interest. I recommend RadioSega if you’re a fan of a classic Sega tunes.
If you’re more interested in discussing video game music, then you’ll need a place to do so. In this case Reddit provides a great outlet for gamers seeking to connect around video game music and discuss classic and modern tunes alike.
Of course the most valuable resources for researching video game tunes is youtube. With a dedicated community of gamers uploading musical tracks, compiling playlists, and sharing remixes, youtube is a great place to find any video game track you’re looking for.
So this may have just been an excuse for me to talk about video game music and share some links to fellow gamers, but I do believe that video game music has a place within the analysis of the medium for social researchers. The amount of activities and shared interactions that are being created around video games are increasing with each year. As someone who has been to multiple of these video game related concerts and shows, I can tell you that the experiences and interactions shared there are genuine ones. We’ll see where video game music goes in the future, and where its place within the medium as a whole falls.