An Overview of Licensed Rock Music in Popular Video Game Titles
These days, licensed rock music has been a staple in video games. To further prove its relevance, let’s look at the latest incarnation in the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
During its first release on the Playstation 3, the top-rated game on IGN featured over 200 licensed tracks from legendary artists such as Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, to upcoming ones like The C90s and Toro Y Moi. A year after, Rockstar Games added 162 more songs to the list, following GTA V’s release on the PlayStation 4. So what is it with rock music and video game titles, you might ask? You might also be wondering whether or not there’s a specific quality in the genre that makes it an effective background theme while playing?
In theory, music in video games covers all genres. From what started as the iconic computer-synthesized tunes by Koji Kondo on Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, to today’s collection of licensed media, these beats add value to every game. As for rock music in video games, it retains and even heightens the rhythm of playing, according to an interview with behavioral science expert Philip Tuck did related to the correlation between music and gaming with a leading UK gaming company. However, the road wasn’t always so smooth as one would expect, as there were plenty of logistics involved in the process.
From a gamer’s perspective, the addition of rock music being performed by actual artists or bands injected a new dimension to gaming titles. In other words, this genre raised the bar in terms of giving players a more immersive experience. Take sports franchises, for instance.
The 2008 season highlighted the trust of a gaming giant like EA Sports in what was once an up-and-coming indie rock band in The Bravery. Their 2007 single ‘Believe’ added a dynamic vibe to an already-exciting Madden NFL 08 football game. It even launched the band to mainstream success, in such a way that the aforementioned song made it on a ‘Gossip Girl’ episode and a Best Buy advertisement. The same goes with fellow indie artists TV on the Radio, and their inclusion in the top-selling baseball simulation game MLB ’09 The Show. As a matter of fact, their song ‘Golden Age’ underlined the title’s excellent soundtrack more than its gameplay. Even established rock n’ roll icons such as The Rolling Stones and the late-great David Bowie have their songs immortalized in games like Call of Duty: Black Ops and Alan Wake, respectively.
In a way, it seems like ages ago when Japanese-inspired soundtracks ruled households and arcade establishments, as today, many developers integrate lyrical songs from a bevy of talented artists. Altogether, this solidifies how video games and rock music go hand in hand in terms of providing players an adrenaline-pumping, mood-heightening experience.