Why Most Modern Game Soundtracks Are Lifeless and Boring

by Kian How

Kian How – Audio Specialist for Visual Media www.kianhow.com

Remember back when there was a time in the not too distant past where you and your friends could hum the theme melody of a video game just by simply mentioning the title? Think Final Fantasy, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, Kong…and of course Super Mario! There wasn’t really much thought needed to recall the melody from the depths of our memories. In fact, they were so memorable the tunes unconsciously became the “audio identification” of that particular game.

These days, most games across the range of indie, console, mobile are suffering from a very cancerous disease – Lack Of Originality aka “everything sounds the same” and/or “the music is there for the sake of being there”. Why are we experiencing this and how do we remedy this? Hang on, I’ll get there.

The point of this article here is not a melodic or thematic one, but of originalityuniqueness and attachment. Sure, some may argue that not every soundtrack needed a melody or theme per se. That is true, I can think of a myriad of games whose sonic characteristics transcend that of what we traditionally associate as the melody/theme – Case in point: “Journey”. The soundtrack is mostly “soundscapish” with melodies and themes interwoven in it – Though not the kind of melodies that are easily “hummable”. But it’s the unique approach and sound palette that gives it its exclusive attachment to the game and a grammy nomination.

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Kian How is an Audio Specialist for visual media at: www.kianhow.com

Richard Trombly
About Richard Trombly 18 Articles
Journalist, director, producer, and screenwriter from Shanghai, China Richard Trombly is a storyteller with 25+ years of experience.