Videogame music is more like film music now

This All Things Considered story about video game music composers discusses how video game composing gigs are viable contenders in the composition job market.

But that’s videogame music today. Back in the 1980s and 1990s there were shorter themes. Nearly every gamer my age can probably recognize themes from Mega Man, Super Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda, Sonic, and other old school games. I’m not sure if the same can be said for many of today’s games, with perhaps the exception of Halo’s main theme and Final Fantasy games.

Games in the late 80s and early 90s had short themes lasting under a minute that would loop over and over. Do today’s games have that? Seems like today’s game music is usually atmospheric and ambient in composition like film scores.

I don’t think it’s that composers are finally coming around to accepting video game music as an art form. I think it’s that video game music has come to a point where it’s much more like film music, giving composers a new challenge that’s similar enough to what they’re used to working on.

On the other side of the spectrum, it’s no coincidence that some of my favorite electronic musicians make music that sounds as if it’s influenced by video games of the late 80s and early 90s (Mux Mool is a good example). It’s more socially acceptable to listen to them instead of the original sound version of the Chrono Trigger soundtrack.