I kind of feel like talking about video game music for a bit. That must seem really random but, for the most part, that’s basically what this blog is. I have random thoughts I want to think through and it’s a whole lot easier to do that in writing.
This post is liable to be a shorter one because I only play a limited amount of video games so I only really know a limited amount of video game music. Though, I do listen to music from games I haven’t played (yet or probably won’t play ever) because YouTube gives you easy access to these things. So the question isn’t: what games’ music do I like listening to, though that’s part of it. The bigger question is: why do I like certain gaming music?
Because, of course, not all video game music is made equal and I can’t listen to it all the time or even part of the time. I really need to match my music to my mood. If I try and listen to the wrong type of music at the wrong time, I tend to make myself anxious. Thankfully, this is something in my control (and a little connected to my previous post about Christmas music). So, ultimately, I have certain moods and certain video game music I might pop on while in those moods. It’s not limited to gaming music, I listen to plenty of ‘traditional’ music and music from other media too, like movies.
There are three main types of mood that really make me want to pull out the video game soundtracks.
- My Anxiety is Getting the Best of Me
This type of mood suuuuuuuuucks. It’s basically the point where I want to crawl under the covers and never come out. And usually, I’m feeling super anxious because I’m in a situation that I precisely can’t just ignore the world. Unfortunately, this also usually means I’m not in a situation that allows me to listen to music to try and help. I might be out and about, at work or in class, in surrounded by many people and my brain is going into fight or flight mode. The gaming music becomes useful after I am out of the situation because everyone with anxiety will tell you: it doesn’t magically go away even when the situation is done. You are pumped full of adrenaline and trying not to shake apart.
Since I need to calm down from here, certain video game music can certainly help. Animal Crossing music is a big one for dealing with my brain trying to jump out of my skull. My favorite playlist is one full of rainy day Animal Crossing music because the soft music behind the consistant rain sounds gives me something soothing to focus on and ground myself with. Plenty of people I’ve spoken to have suggested using ASMR to try and do the same thing but I’ve found a problem with that. Just like certain gaming music, a lot of ASMR has certain tones and sounds that just make my anxiety spike rather than bringing it down. It certainly doesn’t make me feel like I can finally go to sleep.
The other video game music that really fits into this particular category is one particular song. It’s ‘Night Falls’ from Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Much like the rainy day music, this song gives me something to focus on, the original beat over which a pattern of different music plays. And this is actually one of the first video game songs that ever helped me with this problem because it was more accessible at certain times in my life. While I couldn’t always pull out my computer and open up a music playlist my DS and now 3DS are always on my bedside table. This meant that in highschool and into university, if I couldn’t sleep because my anxiety was screwing with me I could grab my system and load up Professor Layton. Since I had already beaten the game I had access to all the music separate from game play and I would just lay there playing and replaying ‘Night Falls’ until I felt better or, at least, felt tired enough to get to sleep.
I have a phone that can access the internet now, so it’s much easier to pull up some long playlist then it is to replay one song off my 3DS but I still remember how much that song helped me through some really long nights.
- I Need to Get Pumped Up!
This is kind of like the dealing with anxiety category but on the opposite end of the spectrum. Rather than ‘I’m already anxious and need to calm down’ this category is more ‘I need to do something that’ll probably make me super anxious and I need to not chicken out’. That’s just too long to be the title.
This is the category of video game music (and music in general because let’s face it, ‘Eye of the Tiger’ tops this category hands down) that I listen to when I need to do something way out of my comfort zone and I need to get pumped. This is the type of music I listen to before a dentist appointment, an interview, or giving a presentation in class. And it’s a whole lot of battle music. Main theme of Mortal Kombat? Yep. San’s battle theme, Megalovania, and Undyne’s ‘Battle Against a True Hero’? Hell yes! Lots and lots of Legend of Zelda soundtrack? Yepper! (Except Twilight Princess’ ‘Sacred Grove’ theme because that shit starts out okay but then throws in the slight buzzing sound, which I assume is there to remind you that Skull Kid is hanging around and my anxiety throws a hissyfit). Clocktown’s ‘Day One’ music from Majora’s mask and the /Great Sea’ theme from Windwaker are excellent choices for bringing the mood up to the ‘I can handle this with a smile’ place I need it to be when trying to look calm, collected, and in control.
And, of course, category three…
- WRITING MUSIC
What did you honestly expect? I write, I should write a lot more than I do but, it still counts. And sometimes you just need some really good writing music playing in the background. Video game music is actually really good for this because, if its well designed, it’s been designed to keep you concentrated and focused on the (gaming) task at hand without getting repetitive and tiring. This affect carries over to other tasks done while listening to the music too, such as studying, cleaning, and writing. If you choose well. Some music is just going to be too repetitive or you’ll connect it too much to the game you suddenly rather be playing at that moment rather than doing the thing you’re supposed to be doing. So choose wisely.
My selection of music for this category tends to cleave between my two previous categories: I like some upbeat stuff mixed with more mellow stuff. Rainy music is out because it’s meant to turn my brain off and I can’t get too battle music focused because then I’ll want to get up and move rather than sitting and working. Legend of Zelda still fills a lot of this category, mostly from Windwaker. Okami has a lot of good stuff too: ‘Rising Sun’ is some good shit.
But, sometimes, I also have to tailor my music to what, in specific, I’m writing. Battle songs become more prevalent when I’m trying to write action scenes and, of course, sadder music is important when I’m writing sad parts (Okami’s ‘Reset/Thank You’ and LoZ’s ‘Fi’s Farewell’ always put me in the right head space for scenes where I’m trying to get a tear out of my readers). But this type of fitting the music to the writing can also play to the aesthetic and genre feel I’m going for. At the moment I have a storyline in my head that really riffs off of the Dark Soul feel and aesthetic so Dark Soul music is an excellent audio play when working, or even just thinking, about that particular story. The ‘Abyss Watcher’’s theme is fantastic and I’m for sure going to take the opportunity to mention ‘Hollow’ by Heartist. I don’t care if it’s a fan song and you don’t think it should count, I’m making this list and that song is heartwrenching both when thinking about Dark Souls and thinking about the despair and desperation that the game fills itself with. That’s what I’m trying to dig at and music is an excellent aid!
Well, I guess this post turned out a mite-deal longer than I originally thought it would. I’ll cut myself off here…and not just because I really want to go and listen to a bunch of this music. More like, there’s some writing I also ought to be working on!