Some might say that music doesn’t need to be revolutionised at all, and while we’re inclined to agree, the truth is that the music industry itself is undergoing a new evolution.
And we can thank the increased profile of gaming for that. The global gaming industry is one of the world’s most powerful tech sectors, and its impact can be felt everywhere, including in the way that we listen to our favourite bands and artists.
In an interesting turn of events, here in the 21st century, gaming is breathing new life into the music business. It wasn’t so long ago that the presence of licenced music tracks helped to establish gaming as a mainstream business, not to mention how unfinished a game feels when it doesn’t have the right sound design or musical score. However, a new trend has emerged in the gaming world that is now providing fans with cutting-edge ways to engage with their musical inspirations.
This article will trace the relationship between music and gaming, which is culminating in this new era of in-game concerts.
The Impact of Music on Games
Ask any keen video gamer, and they’ll tell you they always listen to the soundtrack and sound design of a game. Sound design plays a crucial role in creating an immersive and engaging gaming experience, setting the tone and atmosphere. Incidental sounds can convey key information to players, while music enhances the emotional impact of a storyline.
Sound effects are also used to further immerse players into a game, adding a sense of realism to proceedings. In the numerous online slots titles at PokerStars Casino, for instance, the sounds of reels spinning and jackpots being hit convey an authentic casino gaming experience. Meanwhile, footsteps and gunfire in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 provide audio cues that an enemy is approaching.
Even musical scores themselves can make or break a game, with some legendary soundtracks even taking on a life of their own. Games like The Legend of Zelda, Halo, and World of Warcraft, feature perfectly composed scores that have since been recognised as standalone works of art.
Furthermore, there have been several instances in which familiar songs have been placed in games and gone on to inject a kick of emotion into a scene or even helped to drive the plot forward. Grand Theft Auto 5 gamers feel their heartstrings being tugged every time they hear the opening bars to Chigaco’s If You Leave Me Now start to play, as Trevor says goodbye to his paramour, Patricia. On the other end of the spectrum, the Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil is used to maximum energising effect played over the Crash Site mission in Call of Duty: Black Ops.
A New Paradigm
While music and sound design will always play a fundamental role in gaming, gaming is now starting to become a major player in music, significantly changing the ways in which people can access the work of their favourite bands and artists. Digital technology is now immersing listeners in epic virtual worlds, taking things beyond simply streaming or downloading content.
In-game virtual concerts, as popularised by games like Fortnite and PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds, are an emerging trend in the gaming industry that transport players into live music performances within the game. Taking place in virtual venues that authentically replicate real-life concert venues, these concerts feature live performances from both newcomers to the music scene and established artists.
A starry line-up of some of the world’s leading musicians and groups have already pledged allegiance to the virtual realm. K-pop megastars Blackpink “went live” in PUBG during the summer of 2022, drawing in a total audience of 15.7 million viewers. The performance even won an MTV Video Music Award, picking up the trophy for the Best Metaverse Performance.
Centre to the rising popularity of virtual concerts is that they provide a unique and interactive way for gamers to experience live music. There are advantages for artists, too, not least of which is the ability to reach and connect with a global audience. In-game events can be attended by anyone with an internet connection, increasing exposure for artists and enabling players to interact with performers in brand-new ways.
In-game concerts may still be in their early stages and subject to teething problems, but they have the potential to truly transform the concert-going experience.