In your opinion, is it important for game music to work out outside of it?

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Edited 7 months, 24 days ago

Poll: In your opinion, is it important for game music to work out outside of it? (54 votes)

No 56%
It matters a little but shouldn’t be a big factor in deciding “best music.” 24%
It matters and should definitely factor in. 15%
If I don’t want to listen to it outside of the game, it shouldn’t win. 6%

We’re talking about music in context of gaming so I feel like it shouldn’t matter that much how much you’d listen to it outside of it. Good music is designed to compliment, support, and/or elevate the game it’s made for and we shouldn’t treat it like pure music.

Like it’s cool if it’s good taken on it’s own but that’s a separate convo, a separate category. It doesn’t seem right to knock a game’s music cause you wouldn’t listen to it by itself.

One of my fav OST is from the movie Millennium Actress but it just doesn’t have the same impact on its own. That doesn’t mean it’s not great, it just means it’s an intregral component of something that was meant to be taken together as a whole.

This isn’t a reaction topic to today’s podcast, just a question that came to mind while listening to it.

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#1 Posted by fisk0 (6953 posts) -

I mean ... I strongly dislike the concept (inspired by Hollywood movie conventions) that the music shouldn't be noticed, 'only felt'. Even if it was true for movies (which I don't think it is), games are such a different medium where the player is an active participant in a way where the music just can't distract like it could theoretically do in a movie.

I don't think composers should shy away from writing game music that can stand on its own and draw attention to itself during the game, but sure, I don't think game music necessarily _has_ to be able to work outside of it, so I voted B. I don't want to limit game music more than it is, rather I want it to get away from limitations imposed on it by people convinced that games must stick to cinematic conventions.

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#2 Posted by MStankow (73 posts) -

Depends on the music. Cause I definitely would never listen to a bunch of orchestral scores for movies or games outside of the game but they can very much enhance the mood of what they accompany.

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#3 Posted by Efesell (4567 posts) -

In general I'd say it's more important that a game select its music to compliment rather than just selecting good songs you wanna listen to.

However 'Best Music' happens when you have games that happen to do both.

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#4 Posted by kerse (2495 posts) -

Personally, I think that the most memorable video game music for me has been stuff that works with the mood and makes me want to listen to it out of the game. So I think it is important if you're talking about the best music. I don't think I would call something that didn't do both the best music.

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#5 Posted by nutter (2294 posts) -

I think context matters most, but if I don’t remember the music, I probably won’t be moved to remember it and care.

If it’s just orchestral white noise, who cares?

I could listen to Ecstasy of Gold from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly all day, though. Some of those tracks from Fury Road, the work Hans Zimmer did for Interstellar (the docking scene) or his menacing themes for the Joker in The Dark Knight...great stuff.

As much as I loved Spiderman and God of War and feel

that the scores fit well...I can’t remember a note of them now.

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#6 Posted by TheRealTurk (577 posts) -

Flip side of that question - can game music be "good" if it works outside the game but not in it? For example, I really like Persona 5's battle theme just to listen to, but I thought it was a really bad battle theme for a game.

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#7 Posted by Efesell (4567 posts) -

@therealturk: Really..?

That battle theme somehow felt timed perfectly for every battle.

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#8 Posted by TheRealTurk (577 posts) -

@efesell: Yes, really. I loved the boss theme, but the regular old battle theme was repetitive as hell. I also think it's too jazzy as a battle theme. There's no urgency to it.

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#9 Posted by Efesell (4567 posts) -

I dunno.. I've come to really like battle themes like that where it's more creative than dramatic fight music.

Been playing Atelier games lately though with battle themes that just feel like everyones about to get up and dance.

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#10 Posted by FrodoBaggins (2103 posts) -

Absolutely not. The music should work whilst you are playing the game. However, I find that most of the stuff I really enjoy I also want to listen to on it's own.

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#11 Edited by TobbRobb (6588 posts) -

I think in the categories as they are presented, it makes sense that "best music" gives merit to to tracks that stand on their own. The category as a whole kind of looks at the music as it stands on it's own, while the atmospheric pieces get more credit in best style.

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#12 Posted by Pezen (2388 posts) -

Most of the game music I have spent time with outside of a game has been mostly as a sort disconnected way of getting a feeling I had playing the game. As an example, there are a few songs from Suikoden I will once in a while play to get me back to that world and that cozy nostalgia. Or the Deus Ex: HR soundtrack when I want to day dream about existential human questions of the future. But even good sountracks that I have really liked I havent felt the urge or need to listen to outside of games in general, probably because unless they are licenced tracks most soundtracks are so connected to the experience that taking them in outside of context makes the impact a lot less.

So no, I don’t think that’s an important aspect at all. And when it lands, it has more to do with the in-context feeling of the game than the music on it’s own because I cant think of a single game soundtrack that was better than my experience with the game.

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#13 Posted by Nodima (2636 posts) -

I think it matters. As far back as gaming goes, memorable soundtracks have in large part been defined by their ability to intrude into popular culture. The Super Mario World music isn't just memorable because they soundtracked a great game, they're memorable because even people who don't play video games know the tunes. Obviously as video game music has become more orchestral it's lost a bit of that MIDI magic, but I think the truly great composers still find a way to make the music stand out. Even if you don't listen to the score outside of the game, you can leave various scenes on idle in Spider-Man or God of War and enjoy their main themes for several dozen minutes as you complete other chores. Something else that makes game music stand out from film soundtracks is how it's designed to be heard on a loop for sometimes multiple hours during a playthrough, and in that way they are already having to design that music more like actual pop music than ambient/score-style music (though sometimes the aesthetic of a game calls for that style, obviously).