Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Story + Game… + Music
May 3, 2007

Exceptional filmmakers of this era such as Wes Anderson, Sophia Coppola or Spike Jonze -just to name a few- have a very interesting thing in common: They use extraordinary musical scores in their films to spice up their stories. The ambientation and personality of their works owes significant credit to the list of songs they end up arranging in their original soundtracks.

And thinking about Drama Games, I’ve been wondering how music could be incorporated to the core of story playing.

 

Essentially, stories are about people. And when you play a role, when you act as someone else, you might want to have a deep understanding about how that character feels. A couple of years ago, I had an innocent approach to this issue: What if you could hear the thoughts of the character? Just like James Joyce‘s novel Ulysses, where through its narrative style it expresses a stream-of-consciousness from its main character.

Of course, constantly hearing voices as you play could be disturbing for the player after a while. Not to mention the design limitations of using large amounts of recorded voices or the technical imperfections of using voice synthesis. The solution, as you might have guessed, its simple and elegant: Music!

Music is not only capable of giving an atmosphere to a particular scene, but it can express precise feelings and moods. Electronic music in particular has a very interesting format for it to be applied to games: unlike traditional songs, its recordings are usually 1 hour sets that take the listener to a particular mindset. And of course, the digital nature also makes this kind of music very permeable to be remixed and modified in real time.

I wonder what kind of Drama Game is Sebastien Tellier inspiring me right now…

Music is Play
April 4, 2007

Maybe you have wondered why I have chosen to quote Louis Armstrong in the headline of this blog: “What we play is life” satchmo said when asked about his jaw-dropping style when it comes to play his jazz. And the key word here, is Play.

If games are art, that’s simply because playing games can bring to the masses the same transcendental feeling that a musician feels when he plays his guitar. The great Jorge Luis Borges once said that “music is the objectivization of the soul.” And the act of playing has to do with toying with the soul-object (and the soul-objects of others).

My friends are aware of my interest in electronic music. Being the child of a postmodern generation that laughs at the old dogmas and grows up surrounded by technology, I find in the tribal tunes of house a spiritual place were I can let myself go by combining the beats with a chemical abstraction of the self.

We must understand that just like traditional games, music evolved onto the digital medium to empower itself and discover new horizons. Last year I got to see Daft Punk‘s portrayal of humanity and technology in a set of musical power that still appears to me on dreams. And I feel sorry for the lack of use interactive designers have done with this magnificent resource of artistic expression. And I don’t mean using it in an ornamental way, but in the very core of what game design is all about. Examples like Rez are worth mentioning, but there’s definitely a lot of territory to be explored here…