This series of articles covers nearly three decades of video game history, tracking the evolution of music in games from the first machine I ever owned right through to the present day. It covers the composers, the techniques, the studios, the genres and the technologies involved. I learned a lot while researching and writing it, and hopefully you might learn a thing or two as well. This series covers my own experiences video game music and as such makes no attempt at being comprehensive or definitive, and I’ll be impressed if it’s even mostly accurate. Feedback, corrections and additions are most welcome.
I’d like to thank Jimmy Hinson and Michiel van den Bos – two of my favourite composers. Their kind words meant a lot to me and were an inspiration to keep writing. I’d also like to thank Chris Lepine of The Artful Gamer for his fascinating article on iMUSE and for his kind feedback on Part 3.
…in which I announce the series and the thinking behind it. You can probably skip this bit and get on with the main articles. It doesn’t even have any pictures.
My first computer (or at least the first one to feature music). Despite the hardware constraints video game music evolved noticeably over the short life of this wonderful, beeping machine.
Like so many families across the world the NES was my family’s first console and is home to some of the most iconic, memorable music ever created for games.
The PC would eventually be home to some truly awesome audio hardware but in the early days the PC speaker and MIDI was the state of the art. Also Lemmings.
By the turn of the century sound cards and CD drives were mainstream, and both games and composers were taking advantage of the expanded possibilities they offered. This is probably my favourite era, thanks to the first generation Unreal Engine and MOD music.
The real world interrupted here and so this part was something of a link-dump of – to me – interesting anecdotes and great art.
Bringing us to the present day where game studios bring Oscar-winning composers to do their music and other studios are going full-retro. There really is something for everyone.