When we talk about the link between music and video games, naturally comes to mind a giant list of sublime scores that we remember for a lot of different reasons: the attachment to the game, the feeling that the song gives us, the immersion it allows… but is the only link between them?
We can’t deny the importance of soundtracks or OSTs. And I’m among those who listen to OSTs on repeat and to their Jazz or Lo-fi covers. It’s the best sound to work with for me.
And it’s a growing group if you look at the number of playlists and albums available on streaming platforms, the number of orchestral concerts regularly sold-out, and the attention to detail given to music in many games for the immersion to accompany the player.
That’s how you can discover OSTs like Nier, Hades or Final Fantasy, for instance. Everyone has their favourites, guilty pleasure or not. Personally, it’s the Ace Attorney’s OSTs we listened to a lot lately, as well as God Of War 4’s in vinyl.
But beyond the OSTs and everything linked to them, is the link between music and video games stopping there? I have talked about this with people around me, and it seems the answer is not that simple. Let’s expand the horizon.
One of the most visible links, present for years already and not only in rhythm games, but it’s also the musician’s modelling, with sometimes, the possibility to play them. So, obviously, we’re not surprised anymore to see famous people in a game, like actors who share their traits with characters (Rami Malek in Until Dawn, Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077), but it’s a relatively recent habit.
Besides, seeing the face of someone we see in music videos ‘in game’ was quite an event in the past. I remember when Guitar Hero V did a big part of advertising on the presence and the possibility to play Matthew Bellamy (MUSE) for Plug In Baby on a plastic guitar, as well as other rock stars like Slash and Tom Morello.
However, rhythm games are not the only ones to put these artists in a virtual world. We can see some rappers in NBA2K, Phill Collins non-playable in a 2006’s modelling for GTA Vice City Stories, Marshmello’s skin in the well-known Fortnite. For a more recent example, we can see Stormzy on the screen inside a crumbling London in one of Watch Dogs Legion’smissionsn. And we’ll have many other in oncoming new games, thanks to the action capture technique, which is never ceasing to improve for better and more realistic results.
These more realistic virtual creations have helped with something we saw a lot during the pandemic: live concerts in games. At the top of these all pixeled concerts, Fortnite is, of course, showing itself. The battle royal had already released Marshmello’s skin when it gave him a platform for a concert to which gamers could participate from home. On the same game, Party Royal is another example, but it’s actually Travis Scott’s concert that has made the biggest impression.
Furthermore, the colossal organisation allowed the show to be broadcasted on hundreds of servers (each of Fortnite’s servers can welcome a maximum number of 100 players simultaneously). It was seen by more than 12 million people in-game, without considering the audience of streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube. The numeric scene overpassed the limits imposed by lockdown and other restrictions and has opened a new path for the musical industry.
Another game also used its servers many times for this kind of festival: Minecraft. The cubic world managed to offer many events, as the Block By Blockwest, which had techs on stage to deal with technical difficulties encountered by the bands, like The Pussy Riots or IDLES. For some, it was an experience close to an authentic festival.
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Musical events are also in other games, like Alonzo, who did a show in GTA V for a charity. GTA has offered us, thanks to Twitch and many French streamers, a nice event on Los Santos’ virtual stage, for the closure of the GTA RPZ’s server initiated by Zerator and CaMak: a Los Santos Got Talent where the streamers’ characters walked on stage to sing, the whole thing broadcasted on the hundreds of Twitch channels broadcasting, for the greatest pleasure of thousands of viewers after two weeks of role play. Music always manages to settle even in events where it wasn’t the main purpose.
And let’s not forget to talk about music before the game is even released. It goes by a phenomenon that is not recent but still strong and efficient: promotional music video. From rap to rock or even disco, we can find many examples of songs created with the unique purpose of promoting a new game.
A couple of months ago, in France, we discovered the two videos Clash des Assassins and Clash des Templiers, created by the Youtubers Joyca, Matsu, Amixem and CyrilMP4, promoted the last games of the Assassin’s Creed saga, Valhalla. Loving it or not, we can find ourselves whistling these rhythms that are putting the heroes of their universes front and centre.
And even with all this, there are still many other links. To sum up, the list can’t be exhaustive. And it’s proof that the music is far from have finished its friendship with video games! *Phoenix Wright’s theme starts in the background* any objections?
Now Playing: Clash des Templiers – CyrilMP4 & Amixem