You will be surprised to know that the usage of music in games is very much similar to how it is applied in movies. This is the reason why the recognition of game soundtracks is on the rise in recent years. From monophonic melodies to looped soundtracks, music in video games has come a long way since its day of inception. Think about basic card games akin to the Monster Casino UK games. These classic games are designed to keep their retro feel and integrate a limited number of sounds. But why? Why couldn't they use sophisticated sounds that we are so used to now in modern video games? If you are a gamer, you know very well how good music can make your adrenaline flow and raise your excitement to a whole new level.
The first attempt to develop games on computers was attempted way back in the 1950s. These games were built purely for the experimental purpose by the computer scientists who worked tirelessly. A simple game of Tic-Tac-Toe was seen as a marvel back then - hardly surprising nowadays.
Twenty years after that, in the 1970s, games were made on a commercial basis and consumers were starting to enjoy the games although they were very similar to today’s standards. Developers started to include sounds in early arcade classic games like 1972 Pong. These sounds were just beeps and bloops. Moreover, the sound developers had to change the pitch of the sound to create the illusion of the ball bouncing off walls, pints scored and ball hitting the player’s paddle. All of these were created from a single sound source and were differentiated to create three simple bleeps to give sense to the actions on screen. This added a whole new level of tangibility to the game elevating the gaming experience of the players.
By the 1980s, video gaming was rampant in the consumer market and was very popular among teenagers. In this time period, players did not have to visit arcades anymore. More and more people started to afford home computers and the games were stored on floppy disks. Moreover, consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) paved the way for different possibilities for sound engineers. One of the biggest challenges for sound developers in the 1980s was the constraint of memory. At that time, an average game was of the size of 384kb. To address this limited memory space, sound engineers had to come up with innovative techniques like basic, computer sounding waveforms. The constraint also prevented them from running too many tracks at one time. So most of the time, only instrumental tracks were played in the background.
Today, game sounds have mastered to provide players with a scary dark environment. This is because nowadays game developers hire entire orchestras and compose the music akin to how the films compose music. But in earlier times, the variety of sounds and textures as well as an orchestra's dynamic range could not match the limited memory devices. So, the game developers of that time had to get creative to bring in the same spooky sound that a scary game desired. They started backing games with a sinister piece of music like Toccata & Fugue in D minor by composer Johann Sebastian Bach. This music invoked a sense of spookiness in the games and blended the horror genre well with the spooky tune.
If you remember correctly such monotonous tones became extremely memorable for the Millenials as they cemented these games in their specific time period. Take the instance of Mario and Contra. Play the tune in front of an 80s guy and we are pretty sure that he will recognise it instantly.
The 1990s and beyond
By the 90s, music composers kept relying on melodic music while others started to get creative and started to infuse games with real-life sounds. Fast forward to 2019 and you have sound designers, adaptive music that changes as per the player’s activities, middleware and referencing has changed the entire dynamic of how music is created in video games.
In the future, the music industry will develop a lot around the gaming market and this will indeed bring in a tremendous shift in how we experience iGaming.