James M. Potter

writings on music, games, and culture

Month: April, 2011


I came across this excellent post by Kevin VanOrd at GameSpot. His categories for defining the various functions music performs in games align closely with mine, discussed in the previous post.

A word that keeps coming back to me, from this post and my own thoughts, is aptness. This, surely, is the ultimate criterion with which we should judge whether music for a game is successful or otherwise. It must fit, it must chime (pardon the pun) with everything else that is going on in the story. VanOrd refers to music ‘earning the right’ to manipulate your emotions. If done well you shouldn’t even feel like you’re being manipulated. Games have to judge when to deploy that lush romantic string texture which commands you to feel sorrowful. Games that drop you in medias res and expect you to care about characters you’ve only just met need to tread very carefully to avoid bludgeoning you round the head with the unsubtle mace of emotion, or gassing you with a pungent cloud of unsolicited and generic ‘sentiment’. Read the rest of this entry »

Music and games – a very brief introduction…

Music is called on to perform a wide range of functions in today’s video games. It can be anything from harmless background noise to one of the most powerful weapons in the developer’s armoury, helping to forge a sense of place, time, emotion – ultimately, telling the story.I believe that the roles video game music plays can be distilled into two main types (though I would argue that most straddle both in some way or another).  Read the rest of this entry »