In this continuation of my first blog post about music in video games I want to talk about my own experiences with music in video games. Music has had a huge influence on the way I experienced video games. In particular I want to talk about my experiences with the nostalgic emotions that the Pokémon music make me feel and my interpretation of the Scottish/Scandinavian cultural influences in the Wither 3 and how it all enhances the gaming experience.
Feelings of nostalgia in Pokémon games:
Some of the most impactful and memorable musical pieces in video games for me are the themes from Pokémon games, and mainly the generation 4 and 5 games: Heart Gold & Soul Silver, Black & White, and Black2 & White2.
The excitement that I felt when the up-beat battle theme against my rival blasted through my DS and the state of suspense I was in whenever I was close to fainting and the battle theme switched to a more up-tempo version. Or the town themes which were all recognisably different from one another and encompassed the themes of the town and the surrounding areas perfectly like a calming piano and flute driven theme for a beach town or a more up-tempo vibrant theme filled with energetic beats and lively tunes to represent a sprawling city.
I remember playing these games for hours at a time, alone in my room when I was supposed to be asleep, with my nephew and niece when we went on a family- vacation or trip, I even took my Nintendo ds to school so I could play during break time or after school when I hung out with my friends. I have so many fond memories of experiencing these games and the amazing times I had with my friends and family during this era. Nowadays, when I re-play these games and/or listen to certain music pieces from these games, these memories all flow back to me and I can experience those same emotions that I felt back then. The nostalgic emotions that I associate with the musical pieces makes me appreciate these games so much more.
The culture influenced music in The Witcher 3:
The witcher 3 is an example where the musical choices align perfectly with the culture and geographical locations that they’re trying to mimic. The game’s map, with its large snow-covered landscapes, dense forests and coastal regions draw clear inspiration from the features of Scandinavia and Scotland. The Skellige Isles, one of the major regions in the game, draw clear inspiration from Nordic fjords and isles, featuring rugged terrains, steep cliffs, and stormy seas reflect these coastal areas of Scandinavia. Moreover, the architecture and settlements also reflect a lot of the Scandinavian design elements. the musical pieces from The Witcher 3 perfectly capture these Scottish and Scandinavian influences by incorporating elements from both traditional Scottish and Scandinavian music.
In the areas more inspired by Scandinavia, the music often features traditional instruments like the hardinger fiddle and the nyckelharpa and in areas influenced by Scotland, the music takes inspiration from traditional Celtic music, featuring melodies played on instruments such as the bagpipes, harp, and fiddle. Furthermore the game uses actual Gaelic and Scandinavian vocals to further immerse you into this word. 2 examples of these musical pieces that i want tho share with you that incorporate these traditional musical elements are ‘the fields of ard skellige’ which is the theme for areas with the nordic fjords inspiration, and ‘ladies of the woods’ which is the theme for when you’re meeting 3 witches in a swamp. All these instruments and cultural influences come together to create a perfect blend between the areas you experience in the game and the musical pieces you hear and truly make you immersed in this world.
Of course there are way more examples of masterfully incorporated music in video games but these were examples that really stood out to me specifically. These games and the music in these games have not only had a huge effect on my experience playing those games in particular but also influenced the way I listen to and how much I appreciate music in video games now in general. I’m very curious how the emotional weight of the music will hit me in the future and if it will still elicit the same emotional responses from me when I’m 80 years old.