12 Things You Didn't Know About Video Game Soundtracks

Some scores wrote themselves, others killed children. Possibly.


Though it was only ever true of the earliest arcade titles, video game music once had a reputation as nothing more than simplistic bleeps and bloops - barely music at all, let alone a legitimate genre that could be enjoyed in its own right.

Thanks to the efforts of innovative engineers and budding electronic musicians, game music gradually established a niche for itself, unashamed of this ill-gotten 'bleeps and bloops' reputation, but instead embracing it as its own unique aural fingerprint.

Game soundtracks began to diversify in the '80s in order to encompass already established genres, and soon they even possessed enough mainstream cache with the public to be performed in concert halls, partly thanks to the pioneering efforts of Koichi Sugiyama.

During the '90s, the genre - and moreover, the video game industry - sufficiently grew to the extent that songwriters from the world of film and popular music wanted in on the action. By the new millennium, the concept of video game soundtrack CDs and regular touring orchestras playing beloved pieces from the most popular games (and even some relatively obscure ones) was no longer deemed unusual.

Today, being a fan of video game music is not something to be ashamed of admitting (not that it ever truly was). By now, we're all familiar with the works of the industry's leading lights Uematsu, Soule, Shimomura, et al. However, the genre has a rich and fascinating history beyond these established names; there's much more to be learned. Here's some snippets for starters...

Editorial Team
Editorial Team

Benjamin was born in 1987, and is still not dead. He variously enjoys classical music, despairing over Middlesbrough FC, and walks on the beach (albeit short - asthma, you know). He's currently trying to compile a comprehensive history of video game music, yet denies accusations that he purposefully targets niche audiences. He's often wrong about these things.