Music in the Role-Playing Game: Heroes & Harmonies offers the first scholarly approach focusing on music in the broad class of video games known as role-playing games, or RPGs. Known for their narrative sophistication and long playtimes, RPGs have long been celebrated by players for the quality of their cinematic musical scores, which have taken on a life of their own, drawing large audiences to live orchestral performances.
The chapters in this volume address the role of music in popular RPGs such as Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft, delving into how music interacts with the gaming environment to shape players’ perceptions and engagement. The contributors apply a range of methodologies to the study of music in this genre, exploring topics such as genre conventions around music, differences between music in Japanese and Western role-playing games, cultural representation, nostalgia, and how music can shape deeply personal game experiences.
Music in the Role-Playing Game expands the growing field of studies of music in video games, detailing the considerable role that music plays in this modern storytelling medium, and breaking new ground in considering the role of genre. Combining deep analysis with accessible personal accounts of authors’ experiences as players, it will be of interest to students and scholars of music, gaming, and media studies.
List of Figures, Tables, and Musical Examples. Series Foreword.
Prologue: The Journey Begins. William Gibbons and Steven Reale
Part I: Magical Melodies
1. Song and the Transition to “Part-Talkie” Japanese Role-Playing Games. William Gibbons 2. “The Things I Do for Lust …”: Humor and Subversion in The Bard’s Tale. Karen M. Cook 3. Mother/EarthBound Zero and the Power of the Naïve Aesthetic: No Crying Until the Ending. Tim Summers
Part II: Mystical Metaphors
4. Alien Waves: Sonic Reverberations of the RPG Interface in Lagrange Point. Kevin R. Burke 5. The Penultimate Fantasy: Nobuo Uematsu’s Score for Cleopatra no Ma Takara. Dana Plank 6. Music in the Time of Video Games: Spelunking Final Fantasy IV. Julianne Grasso 7. Operatic Conventions and Expectations in Final Fantasy VI. Ryan Thompson
Part III: Meaningful Memories
8. Ludomusical Dissonance in Diablo III. Michiel Kamp 9. A Hidden Harmony: Music Theory Pedagogy and Role-Playing Games. Meghan Naxer 10. Soundwalking and the Aurality of Stardew Valley: An Ethnography of Listening to and Interacting with Environmental Game Audio. Kate Galloway 11. Musical Landscapes in Skyrim. Michiel Kamp and Mark Sweeney 12. Barriers to Listening in World of Warcraft. Steven Reale
Notes on Contributors. Index of Video Games. General Index.
"The volume breaks new ground as the first scholarly book focusing solely on RPG music and should be recommended to game theorists, music scholars, and fans of the genre. In my estimation, it also offers a significant and valuable contribution to the field of ludomusicology and will likely become an indispensable took kit in future studies of audiovisual narrativity."
—Barnabas G. Smith, Journal of Sound and Music in Games