We...are The Pondlings.
Hello and welcome back to the second article by TAY's secret group, The Pondlings. Just who are we? Well some of you clever clogs already know but for those that do not, we exist for one reason...
To make the people of TAY happy.
Because making people happy is a reward in itself. (Plus we get shiny star stickers for being good noodles!)
We were quite pleased with the reaction to Issue 01 of the SunTAY debate. So without further ado let us begin...The SunTAY© Morning Pondling Debate (Issue 02).
Our topic today: How important is music in videogames? For example how does it affect you emotionally? Tell us everything! Hell, post your favourite game soundtracks and explain why it means so much to you! Did someone say nostalgia!?
What would games be without music? Have you tried turning it off and playing in silence? Can you imagine Ocarina of Time without the Ocarina tunes or Final Fantasy VII without the world map theme? As with every creative medium, music adds a level of emotional response that heightens the overall experience. There's a word I like to use...it's called immersion. My teacher hated that word, what does immersion mean? "It's so vague" he would say and it is thrown around so much that it has lost its meaning. He felt that each person's definition of immersion differed and it was more of a feeling...one he couldn't understand and that's fine! We're all different and we have our own experiences and tales about the immersion we experienced as gamers from childhood to adulthood.
So I ask my fellow Pondlings (and non-pondlings), what do you think about music in videogames. How does it make you feel? Do you feel immersed? What does that mean to you? Tell us all about it!
And feel free to post songs in your comments! We want to hear them!
Koi: I enjoy these topics so thank you Habboi for choosing this music themed article. I won't let you down.
As Habboi said, music helps enhance the overall experience of the game. I personally think music often tells more story than the dialogue itself. There are so many great songs that have been created over the years...it's hard to just throw some into this thread without really thinking about it.
I've decided to write about Final Fantasy X, a brilliant game with an emotionally powerful soundtrack. What I like about this OST is the way it evokes the overall theme of the game, travelling. Or more closer to the point, pilgrimage. It starts off with an interesting choice of music that really pumps you up for the grand adventure that awaits you and it becomes chaotic to reflect the destruction that is going on. But what I really like is the tune that follows it:
Feel that? The rise in adrenaline? The build-up? Things are getting serious. Just what is going on? A giant whale blew up the stadium and now there are alien egg sacks with legs attacking us! Auron, the elder with his calm voice takes charge and teaches you the ropes of fighting.
I can't imagine a better tune to suit that image. It makes you feel empowered but at the same time fills you with a feeling of mystery. You want to press on to find out just what the heck is going on. And that is when the next tune surprises you...
That rising feeling has hit the top. You're at the end of the road and things have reached a whole new level of amazement. Auron, strangely calm, leads you into the belly of the beast. This tune is one heck of a finisher to this sequence and I can feel the pull of Sin just by listening. This song represents the beginning of an adventure, one you couldn't possibly have imagined. It makes you feel so small and yet so big as you become part of the grand journey ahead.
So that's just a small example of how music in games affects me emotionally. As I played through Final Fantasy X I kept having these thoughts running through my mind. Such is the power of music. So is it immersion? Well if we go by Habboi's reasoning then I have my own definition of immersion.
So what is it? Well...heh...it's a feeling. Exactly as he put it. The fact that these two songs have already evoked all these thoughts and emotions goes to show just how powerful they are. A series of noises that shake the very inner thoughts of my mind.
Additionally the music in the game can quite often evoke thoughts that don't even appear in the game. Take this one for example:
You first hear it when you're on the boat heading for Luca. But to me...this song reminds me of a sunset. I'm on a cliff and I'm overlooking a bright orange sun...I feel sad. Why? I don't know but that's the imagery I'm seeing. The soundtrack is filled with instances like these and I think each and every one of us sees something different.
So to me...that's what immersion is. That feeling you get inside you when you're playing a game and the music comes on and suddenly you're experiencing all these thoughts and emotions. Clearly I'm not alone in this thinking since millions of fans have shared their thoughts throughout all the videos on youtube. There are some that really touch me.
"Ah my god...This music...it gives me chills. It's been many years since I played FFX and I forgot how much that game really affected me. I've never counted it as one of my favorite games but I've always thought it was one of the best games I ever played. Without the music, it wouldn't have had half the emotional impact." - XelestialDragon
And this is just Final Fantasy X. There are hundreds of games with soundtracks that have had an impact on me and shaped the direction of my life. From school homework to my actual job, all these years I've sat in front of this PC and done my work with various OST's playing in the background. It helps me relax and I often find myself drifting off to these amazing worlds the developers have crafted. So thank you for listening, it was fun sharing that with you. I would very much like to hear how game music has affected your lives.
I'll leave you with this final song to uplift your spirits. It's the one that made me decide to write this article.
"I don't know why, but this tune puts me in mind of a summer's evening after a shower when the sun returns and everything smells and feels refreshed. One of my favourites." - Maecenas22
Well said fellow gamer! I'm glad I'm not alone...
Crane: When first posed this question I didn't think music really affected me in video games. Most of the time I don’t notice it, unless the gameplay is slow like in Animal Crossing, or when there is a bit of a pause in the game, like before a boss battle or while running. However, a couple days ago I went onto my sister’s computer, booted up a regular game and noticed something was a bit off. She had turned the game sound off. And it really affected me. I didn't want to play the game without the background music on, so had to go through the settings before I could do anything else. I wouldn't have thought it would have had such an effect on me, seeing as I don’t usually pay much attention to just background music, but this moment made me realise how much I had been taking it for granted. Without the music the game just did not seem right, it wasn't whole, it didn't give me the full experience I expect from a game – it didn't give me that immersion.
Now I don’t think this matters so much on all games, in fact there have been some games that I've played without the sound (usually while I was doing other things as well – like farming beetles in AC while watching some TV), but most of the time the music is on. And I think that is something that is going to stay.
So a couple bits of music that I have noticed in games and enjoy listening to:
The 1am music in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. It really is so lovely, peaceful and perfect for the night. It is worth staying up that late for.
The battle theme in Final Fantasy VII. I recently got Theatrhythm and it was amazing listening to all the songs on there. There are so many great tunes, this is just one that I liked, really gets me in the battling mood.
So in summary, games without music are like meals without seasoning. Sure you can eat them, and I do occasionally, but you're not really getting the full experience. So go put some pepper on your games! Or, something like that ;)
Ottsel: Music in video games plays a much more different role than being a complement to the visuals, in the earlier days, music played a much important role, in the past when programming a dialog box was a hassle, music played the role of portraying ambience, emotions, depth to the universe encapsulated within the game.
*There may be spoilers ahead.*
Just play the Athletic Theme of Super Mario Bros. to anyone and they will immediately recall memories from the time they played that game, or what about the sombre soundtrack of the first Metroid game? Sure it wasn't catchy as the Latin inspired track from Mario Bros. but Hirokazu Tanaka went for a different direction, he wanted the player to feel the same isolation that Samus was going through while exploring the planet Zebes, a staple for every Metroid game.
Jump to the 16 bit era, better tools meant better ways of portraying emotions in video games, but certain developers had already created the habit of expressing their ideas through music, surely it became rare for the developer to rely only on music, but composers like Yasunori Mitsuda Nobuo Uematsu Noriko Matsueda AKA the Chrono Trigger music team, each and one of them transmitted the events of the game through their music. Remember when Frog retrieved the Masamune? Or what about the moment you fight Magus? The first time you set your foot outside the domes in the future? And let's not talk about the magical tunes that play alongside the Kingdom of Zeal area.
As the technology evolved the quality of the music did too, some composers ditched the Midi controllers, and started using real instruments or orchestras to express their music. Metal Gear Solid, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Shadow of the Colossus, Mario Galaxy, Flower, Journey, Bastion, Braid... These are just some of the many games that took advantage of the advances in the development of video games, I could ramble on and on, but I fear that if I do that I won't be able to get my opinion in time for the Sunday deadline.
I left out one of my favourite games out of the list, because I know that there are some around here that are experiencing that game for the first time, thanks to the "Republication" as Shigesato Itoi once referenced to the re-release of Earthbound.
In the end, music is more than just some tracks that coexist with images, especially in the video game scene, where the tracks intertwine with the player's emotions and create an even greater experience, they create vivid memories that stay with us forever, as if all of the adventures were ours.
As an afterthought I will leave you this question for you guys to ponder...
Remember the ladder sequence in Snake Eater?
Thank you for reading and to the non-pondlings, we welcome your discussion.
The Pondling Group is a secret organisation dedicated to watching over the citizens of New Tay and making sure their happiness comes first. If you wish to join our secret group you must first offer me a gift and lick my feet. Then I will give you the password to enter our hideout. Make sure to check out TAYCLASSIC for more amazing stories by the very citizens we dedicate our lives to protecting.
Don't forget to watch the first three episodes of Ergo Proxy for next weeks Anime Club. It's worth watching, trust me.
Once again, Master Koi has given me permission to pimp A Hat in Time so please check it out if you haven't and be sure to pre-order if it takes your fancy.