Day Eight: Best Soundtrack
Most of the time when I play video games, I have music on. Or I’m sat with people talking. I don’t tend to notice video game music all that much, unless I’ve set up a specific atmosphere (playing Dead Space in the dark with the volume cranked up is pretty damn effective at scaring the bajeesus outta me) to play in. Even when I play my beloved Fallout games, I have the radio stations on, so I don’t tend to notice any background music.
I really like what they did with music in Dead Space though- rather than have consistent, background music, as most games tend to have, it went for something different. As a film student, I’m pretty used to picking things apart (use of music, composition, script style, story style, editing etc.) but I really enjoyed doing this with the music in Dead Space. Instead of standard background music, Dead Space utilised a few tricks that are more often seen in horror films. As a huge fan of horror I found it interesting to note the use of music here.
While watching films is predominantly a passive activity (which can somewhat account to the failures/difficulties that films based on video games tend to have) using music can help to bring the viewer into the world of the film, and is often used in horror films. One such example is the use of music in James Wan’s Insidious, which is creative and effective. However, playing video games is an active activity. You control your character. You can, in some games, control their world. Typically video games don’t need to use the same tactics as films to bring the player into the game more, and use fairly generic background music (this music can also help while studying, as it’s designed to provide a stimulating background but not disturb your concentration. I don’t if there’s any scientifically-tested proof for this, but it works for me!) as a buffer to this, but that’s where Dead Space differs. When there’s a jump scare played or something dramatic happening, a loud, musical sting (think the infamous music from the shower scene in Psycho) plays, and it works at making the scare more effective for the player. As a huge horror/gaming fan, I really enjoyed and appreciated this use of music and sound in a game and enjoyed the effect it had… In other words, it made me jump!