For developers, the inclusion of music into video games is very important. It is similar to that of music in a movie; the music is there to set a mood. There are several ways to include music into a video game.
The most well known way is to have the music playing the whole time, e.g, Super Mario Bros. Another way is providing the player with a playlist that they can listen to; this was done in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The most interesting way of including music is how most sand box games do it. In sand box games like Crackdown or Saints Row, when the player gets into a car, they can find a radio station that plays the music they like. Each of these examples provides a way for the developer to set a mood for the game.
The whole point of having music in a game is to convey a feeling. Consider that, game designers are making a game to tell a story, and they want to get the player to feel something. The most efficient way of setting the mood is by playing custom music. By having custom music continually play, the developers are able to pick exactly the type of mood they want to set. When I call the music custom, it is because the song is not created for nothing other than the game. A song that is not custom would be a song that a musician created and then licensed to the game.
The second type of music inclusion is that of a playlist. Playlists are mostly used in extreme sports and racing games. They are typically made up of licensed songs from well-known artists. While the playlist does not allow the developer to dictate the mood of the game, most games that use a playlist don’t have a story and thus, won’t need a mood.
The most complicated way of including music into a game, is when music is put into a sand box game. The game that did it the best was Saints Row. The way Saints Row included music was through radio. Whenever the player enters a vehicle, it gives the player the ability to change the radio station. This allows the player to listen to anything they want. Sand box games give players so much control, that the player gets to choose what mood they want to play the game.
There is one other way of including music into a game, and that is by making a music game. That would include games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero. These games use the playlist idea as well. The reason behind these games using a playlist is simple; people want to be able to play songs they know. If a person were to look at the back of a music game box, and not see a single recognizable song, they would move onto the next game. Just like other games that use playlists, a music game has limited plots, and does not need the music to set a mood.
Music is just as important to video games as it is to movies. Without music to set a mood, the games could be perceived completely different. Horror games would not be scary if there was happy music playing in the background the whole time. The games that use playlists, don’t need a mood, so the playlist works. With sand box games, the developer has given the control of the mood to the player, as well as giving the player control of the music. If the game needs a certain mood, the developer will include music on its own; however, if the game has no need for a mood, then the music choice relies on the player.