1st Edition

Understanding Game Scoring The Evolution of Compositional Practice for and through Gaming

By Mack Enns Copyright 2022
    160 Pages 104 B/W Illustrations
    by Focal Press

    160 Pages 104 B/W Illustrations
    by Focal Press

    Understanding Game Scoring explores the unique collaboration between gameplay and composition that defines musical scoring for video games.

    Using an array of case studies reaching back into the canon of classic video games, this book illuminates the musical flexibility, user interactivity and sound programming that make game scoring so different from traditional modes of composition. Mack Enns explores the collaboration between game scorers and players to produce the final score for a game, through case studies of the Nintendo Entertainment System sound hardware configuration, and game scores, including the canonic scores for Super Mario Bros. (1985) and The Legend of Zelda (1986).

    This book is recommended reading for students and researchers interested in the composition and production of video game scores, as well as those interested in ludo-musicology.


    List of Figures

    List of Tables

    Chapter 1

    An Introduction to Game Scoring

    Disasterpeace and FEZ: A Case Study of Game Scoring

    Music System Overview: Sequence Context Menu

    Music System Overview: Scripts Browser

    Music System Overview: Main Composition Sequencer

    Game Scoring as an Unique Mode of Musical Composition

    Methodology and Outline

    Chapter 2

    Game Scoring’s Interactive Multimedia Context

    Spatial Emulation, the "Gaming Diegesis" and Game Scoring

    Interactivity: A New Element

    Audial Responsibility in the Interactive Multimedia Text: A Case Study of the Score for The Legend of Zelda (1987)

    Case Study Conclusions: John Cage and Game Scoring as Aleatoric Composition

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Title Music

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Source Music

    Source Music Case Study: Kondo’s "Lost Woods" Vs. Vreeland’s "Reflection"

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Results Music

    Chapter Conclusions

    Chapter 3

    Game Scoring and Gaming Technology

    Case Study: The Nintendo Entertainment System’s Sound Hardware Configuration

    Channel Overview: Pulse Wave Channels

    Channel Overview: Triangle Wave Channel

    Channel Overview: Noise Channel

    Channel Overview: Delta Modulation Channel

    NES Game Scoring Techniques

    NES Game Scoring Techniques: 2-Channel Echo

    NES Game Scoring Techniques: Single Channel Echo

    NES Game Scoring Techniques: Arpeggio and Psychoacoustic Block Chords

    NES Game Scoring Techniques: TWC Kick Drum Sounds

    NES Game Scoring Techniques: Melodic Samples

    Putting It All Together: The APU Mixer

    Case Study Summary

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Logo Jingles

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Loading Music

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Voice Acting and Vocals

    Chapter Conclusions

    Chapter 4

    Game Design and Game Scoring as Software Programming

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Introduction Music

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Demo Music

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Gameplay Music

    Gameplay Music: Hub Music

    Gameplay Music: Area Music

    Area Music Case Study: Game Scoring as Mimetic Music Technology in Tetris (1984) and Guitar Hero (2005)

    Gameplay Music: Area Music, cont.

    Gameplay Music: Time System Jingles

    Gameplay Music: Battle Music

    Gameplay Music: Rest Music

    Gameplay Music: Dialogue Music

    Dialogue Music Case Study: The Owl and Link’s Awakening (1993)

    Gameplay Music: Challenge Music

    Chapter Conclusions

    Chapter 5

    Game Scoring: Gameplay as Performance of Aleatoric Composition

    Before Video Games: The Aleatoric Tradition

    A Note on Sound Effects

    Case Study: Super Mario Bros. (World 6-2)

    Game Scores Vs. Game Soundtracks: Super Mario Bros. on CD

    Case Study Conclusions

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Menu Sound Effects

    Mario Menus: A Case Study of Menu Sound Effects in Two Super Mario Games

    Menu Sound Effects, Cont.

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Menu Music

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Status Music (Gameplay Music, Cont.)

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: Gameplay Sound Effects

    Game Scoring Taxonomy: "Ambiences" or Ambient Sound Effects

    Chapter Conclusions

    Chapter 6

    Game Scoring: Conclusion

    Future Directions






    Mack Enns is a Research Assistant Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, specializing in music design and programming for video games and interactive media, music technology and popular music studies.