Music video game

Open source music video game StepMania

A music video game, also commonly known as a music game, is a video game where the gameplay is meaningfully and often almost entirely oriented around the player's interactions with a musical score or individual songs. Music video games may take a variety of forms and are often grouped with puzzle games[1][2][3][4][5][6] due to their common use of "rhythmically generated puzzles".[7][8]

Strong support for the convergence of live music and video games is evident with the success of the Video Games Live concert series.[9] Emergent games for live concert performance, "game-scores", augment traditional western music notation with the dramatic elements of animation, interactivity, graphic elements and aleatoric principles (Anigraphical Music). The concept of incorporating game theory and music is not new and can be traced back to Musikalisches Würfelspiel.[10]

Music video games are distinct from purely audio games (e.g. the 1997 Sega Saturn release Real Sound: Kaze no Regret) in that they feature a visual feedback, to lead the player through the game's soundtrack, although eidetic music games can fall under both categories.

Major gameplay variations

As the genre has gained popularity and expanded, music video games have demonstrated the ability to support a range of different styles of gameplay. While the oldest form of gameplay is eidetic in nature, the most common form of music game today is rhythmic in nature and has been termed the "rhythm game". Other common modes of gameplay in music video games include the sandbox style that encourages a free-form gameplay approach and the recent hybrid style that combines musical elements with more traditional genres such as the shooter or puzzle game. Music video games are also commonly included as minigames in party games.

Music memory games

Main article: Rhythm game

Music memory games test a player's musical memory. Sight-reading music games take a variety of forms depending upon which aspect of the music serves as the focus of gameplay. Although the majority of such games primarily emphasize rhythm as the major gameplay-determinative musical element, other elements of musical notation and development such as pitch and volume also serve as points of emphasis in a number of games. In all of these game-forms the goal of the player is to provide a direct injective response to each prompt (linked to an element of the music) from the game.

Rhythm-based games range from dance games such as Dance Dance Revolution and other music-based games such as Donkey Konga and Guitar Hero. These games challenge the player to press the right button at the right time. The popularity of these rhythm-based games has created a market for specialty input devices such as dance mats and electronic drums.[11] Early games include Dance Aerobics (1987) and PaRappa the Rapper (1996).[12]

Freeform music games

Freeform music games, characterized by games such as SimTunes, are those in which the creation of music takes predominance over gameplay and as such these games are often more similar to non-game music synthesizers such as the Tenori-on. Free form music games occupy a position somewhere between generative hybrid music games and non-game utilities dependent upon the degree to which their gameplay relies upon a driving underlying plotline. This form of music game is closely analogous to sandbox games in the realm of non-musical games and the term "sandbox" has been used to describe this form of gameplay.[13]

Hybrid music games

An offshoot of the serious games initiative,[14] hybrid forms of music video games such as Otocky (a generative hybrid) and Pteranodon (a reactive hybrid) are characterized by substantial and meaningful interactions between a player and the music in a game that ostensibly belongs to a non-musical genre.

Generative-form hybrid music video games often make the concert music resulting from the interaction between performer and in-game dynamics a goal of the game.[15] To achieve this the non-musical genres to which these games give the outward appearance of belonging are often characterized by simple, straightforward dynamics.[16] In Rez or Free the Beat, for example, the game takes the form of a simple rail shooter; however, by integrating sound effects created by the actions of the player (as he completes the normal tasks of rail-shooting) with the soundtrack as a whole, the game is intended to permit the player's direct interaction with the soundtrack and to encourage the creation of a synaesthetic experience.[17]

The major difference between the generative and reactive forms of hybrid music video games is that games of the generative form allow for the creation of music as determined by gameplay whereas those of the reactive form employ music to determine gameplay. Reactive-form hybrid music video games such as Pteranodon, Rhyme Rider Kerorican, or iS – internal section focus upon the underlying genre such that the music serves to determine the dynamics of the non-musical components of the game. In these games the player takes substantial cues from the soundtrack to devise his gameplay. Comparable reactive-form[18] music video games such as Vib-Ribbon, Audiosurf, or Dance Factory lack a differentiable underlying genre and as such cannot be considered hybrid music games.

See also


  1. "GameSpot's Best of 2005 - Genre Awards". Archived from the original on 2013-03-19. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  2. "The Best Videogames of 2005". Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  3. "Mizuguchi on Lumines Interview // PSP /// Eurogamer". 2006-11-09. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  4. " - Reviews: Frequency (PS2)". 2006-02-11. Archived from the original on 2006-02-11. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  5. "Games and gear - Rhythm - ZDNet Reviews". Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  6. "Music Rhythm | Games and gear - Puzzle - CNET Reviews". 2010-10-13. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  7. Jan 28, 2006 (1997-10-31). "TenSpot: Top Ten Rhythm Games - Features at GameSpot". Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  8. Gudmundsen, Jinny (2007-08-24). "Songs from 'High School Musical' showcased in rhythm game". Usatoday.Com. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  9. Video Games Live, Cotterell, Leo. The Times. November 26, 2007
  10. "Johnson, George. ''New York Times'' - Science. Wednesday, April 16, 2008". New York Times. 1997-11-11. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  11. Adams, Ernest (2013). Fundamentals of Game Design. New Riders Press. p. 325. ISBN 9780133435719.
  12. Webster, Andrew (2009-03-04). "Roots of rhythm: a brief history of the music game genre". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2014-07-05.
  13. "Salon 21st: This Note's For You". 1997-04-03. Archived from the original on February 17, 2002. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  14. "Serious Games Source". Serious Games Source. Archived from the original on March 14, 2010. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  15. "Hz #9 - "The Composition-Instrument: Musical Emergence and Interaction "". Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  16. "Otocky". Siliconera. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  17. Krotoski, Aleks (2007-02-07). "Interview with Tetsuya Mizuguchi". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  18. Aallouche, Khalid, et al. "Implementation and Evaluation of a Background Music Reactive Game." IE Conference 2007 - Tempere University of Technology and Nokia Research Center. 2007.

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