As anyone who listens to music knows, it's a powerful tool that can impact everything from your emotions to athletic performance. It's also a key component of video gaming. While everyone assumes that the visuals make a game the most appealing, in reality, it's a mix of visuals, interactivity and the right sound – or, more specifically, the right musical soundtrack.
Music has the power to turn even the simplest of games into an engaging, audio-visual experience, and that's why publishing houses heavily invest resources into the sound design of a game. Furthermore, as competitive gamers will have already experienced, listening to the right music tunes before an eSports competition can provide the winning edge.
Music and the Human Brain and Body
Music is one of the most effective ways to stimulate human potential simply because it has such a powerful and positive impact on our brains. Unlike other forms of stimulation, when you listen to music, be that a composed orchestral masterpiece or a short burst of improvised jazz, several areas of your brain will light up all at once, including those parts that control coordination and emotions.
Listening to music can also be one of the most effective ways to control stress, as the right songs or compositions can noticeably reduce cortisol levels. It can energise even the most fatigued of listeners by reducing the impact of negative emotions.
Music's impact on athletic performance has been well studied and documented over the years. Several scientists have found that music can help athletes control their moods, increase their speed and flexibility, and even aid recovery times.
How Does Music Support Gaming?
When used intentionally, different songs or soundtracks can stimulate or relax a listener, enhancing mood and building new memories and pathways in the brain. Naturally, it's a great partner for any gaming activity.
The soundtracks that accompany games have been crafted with a specific intention in mind. It's all about creating an immersive experience, emotionally engaging gamers so that they feel part of the game at hand and not just like an observer. That's why gaming soundtracks, such as The Legend of Zelda, are now regarded as musical masterpieces akin to Beethoven's great symphonies.
However, it's not just the music featured in the game that impacts a player's enjoyment and performance when playing. More and more gamers – like athletes before them – are curating soundtracks to listen to as they play.
Casual gamers, for instance, will more often than not turn to classic pop or tunes that hold a sense of nostalgia for them as they play, choosing songs from artists like Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Micheal Jackson. More adrenaline-fuelled gaming experiences call for songs and music with a harder edge, which is where you'll see tracks from rock bands like The Pretty Reckless make an appearance.
Then, there are the categories of gamers who really want to maximise the competitive edge that listening to the right music can give them. More often than not, these gamers are part of the iGaming or eSports industry. For example, legendary poker player Phil Hellmuth is well-known for listening to classic rock songs from the 1970s to the 1990s before embarking on a tough poker tour.
Meanwhile, even casual card and table game players will put together a motivational soundtrack when playing online. While we're not promising that music is part of a winning roulette strategy, nevertheless, the right sounds will put you in the mindset to play at your best.
Music and eSports
More recently, the relationship between music and eSports has grown so deep that the virtual gaming realm has even hosted live music concerts. Fortnite, the mammoth battle royale game that is surging in popularity all over the world, has been the setting for several digital concerts over the past few years, with artists like Ariana Grande and Travis Scott topping the bill.