Peter Steve Jackson Comments The Impact of Music

I was checking in the Lord of the Rings DVDs (was checking to see if there was background music available to listen) and just happened to spot Peter Steve Jackson commenting music in movies. Jackson mentioned that visuals and characters can affect to what the viewer sees, but the music is the key to determining what the viewer feels at certain point.

I don’t recall the exact words though (was reading Finnish subtitles you know), but I think this message makes a valid point. If you think of games that have background music – they definitely impact on what player can feel in the course of the game. Naturally there’s things like experiencing the joy of victory and thrill of challenges, but I think music indeed can greatly affect on what players feel in the game.

It can create suspense (I’m thinking of some horror games). It can also create that “action feeling” (Kane & Lynch – in my opinion – does this nicely during action scenes where they start to play rock music for action scenes).

Your comments?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. OK, another example using SMB1:

    Let’s assume we make a jump ‘n’ run game, a homage to SMB1. There is a craftsman as main character, a damsel in distress to save, etc. There are many gaps to jump over, some of them filled with water. Usually you die when falling into water. But some of those pools serve as gate to an underwater world. We can give a subtle hint to jump into this supposed death trap by fading in the underwater theme of SMB1 when approaching such a pool/gate. It fades out when the player goes away.

    A player who knows SMB1 has an advantage over the unknowing player. Maybe it’s not the best example but it should explain my intention.

  2. Steve Jackson – http://www.sjgames.com/

    How my brain is so wired to gaming world…


    hermitC: can you explain more about that idea – I’m not sure if I got it (listened that mario music piece)

  3. IMHO background music can be used in many ways. It can be used to bring back feelings and imagery of gone play sessions. A good soundtrack can be a very strong link to a game, even if you did not play it for a long time.

    Idea: What about giving hints in a new game by playing a well known melody from an old game? E.g. playing the “underground” theme of SMB1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpk5U70MQBg, starting at 00:10) when there is something below.

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