Monday, January 14, 2013

Surveying Literature: Game on! and Video Games Behind the Fun

Over the holiday, I watched two video game documentaries available through Netflix streaming services.  Neither, of course, had its focus as video game music, but both made points that were interesting to studying game audio.

History Channel's documentary Video Games: Behind the Fun

I hadn't thought about the increasing demand to have stars provide voices in video games.  Of course, when you play Star Trek: A Final Unity, you expect to hear Patrick Stewart as Picard, etc... but there's also a push to have stars from TV and movies provide audio as well as an expectation to hear certain voices that've become established in genres: for instance, Cain in Diablo III.

I think I've heard before that Space Invaders caused a coin shortage in Japan... and wondered, is this the modern equivalent of the game website crashing with so many users trying to play?  Also interesting to think about the arcades as having better graphics and sound-- and they did!  I still remember playing TMNT: The Arcade Game in the Putt-Putt arcade in my hometown; it was so much better than the NES version!

Watching this made me think again: how did the venue of gameplay affect the audio experience.  This topic warrants an entire blog, but the audio progression of listening venue was: Garages/Labs, Arcades, Home consoles, portable games, PCs, now consoles as entertainment units.  Arcades and portable games have an interesting quality for better or worse: fixed audio specifications.

CNBC's Documentary: Game On

This documentary drove home for me changes that have taken place in game audio development.  What one person was in charge of creating right at the end of the game experience has now become an entire audio team, each with specific development jobs.

I'm constantly bumping into popular songs about video games, in this documentary, I encountered Pac-Man Fever.  I'd be interested to try to make a list of as many of these popular songs about video games as I can find-- maybe there already is such a list?

Game On focuses a lot on the business and financial aspects of video games, often detailing units sold and profits.  For instance, the multimedia connections between the ET movie franchise and the game developed for Atari.

Finally, Game On introduced me to Wii Music, a game I didn't know but would like to check out.