Music makes an impact on our lives in all sorts of ways. From film scores to classic hits, beautiful melodies accompany us throughout our lives, evoking a powerful storm of emotions as soon as we hear them again. While music is normally attributed to films and songs, video game soundtracks have also made their mark with unique, memorable soundscapes. 

Sound Design in Video Games

It’s difficult to imagine playing a video game on mute. Whether we notice it or not, sound plays a huge role in how we experience a game. In fact, for aspiring gaming developers, sound is one of the first things they learn to incorporate because it teaches players when they’ve done something right or wrong or reached a checkpoint. 

For more advanced games, sound helps gamers understand the space they’re in, whether it’s small or vast, grassy or rocky, wet or dry. On top of that, creating background music to complement the action, narrative, and the overall world gives games the opportunity to create iconic moments that leave their players with powerful memories long after gameplay. 

Sound is something developers can’t skip out on. It’s a key part of any beloved video game. Below are a few examples of excellent sound design in the history of video games. 

Slot Machines

Slot games are a classic example of memorable sound design in video games. Both in brick-and-mortar establishments as well as playing slots online, developers work hard to create the best soundscape with music and sound effects people want to hear. While there are many elements that come into play, developers resort to playing songs in the C key, which studies have shown generates positive emotions universally. This provides the player with a positive environment, making them willing to play for longer compared to playing a game in silence. On top of that, satisfying winning sound effects like coins falling in a metal tray produce positive memories for players, so they are more likely to come back since they remember those positive memories and sounds. 

Mario Bros

Originally machines that only turned to video in the late ’70s, slot machines are probably one of the oldest video games. By the time the 80s came around, developers were able to go beyond simple mechanics like slots and create adventures where characters could run, jump, and attack opponents. Of course, all of these actions needed sound effects, which is why when Nintendo created Mario Bros, they made sure to have their bases covered. Perhaps the most memorable is the “level complete” jingle, which, like slots music, is also played in the C key. A melody that reflected the exciting jumping and dodging in the game was one of Nintendo’s first big successes. In 1996, with the release of Mario 64, they would take another risk by giving Mario a voice. This choice ultimately elevated the Mario Bros universe to a new status, opening up the possibilities for new talking characters and interactions that would make Nintendo excel. 

Metal Gear Solid

Taking a shift from the happy-go-lucky tunes heard in slots, and Mario Bros, the 1987 release of Metal Gear Solid also made a lasting impression on players. Playing with the element of stealth, developers created a fascinating soundtrack that managed to follow the player’s rhythm. This is called adaptive music, which means games were programmed to loop during low-action moments, and if they had triggered a cue, the soundtrack could change to climatic music to accompany the intensity.  

Needless to say, in just a decade, developers managed to create some impressive soundscapes in a variety of gaming formats.