There was a time when different types of media were clearly defined. A record was a record, something to be played on the radio and listened to in a club, but music was unlikely to find its way into your gaming unless you put on some early EDM whilst playing on your 8-bit machines. Technology rarely allowed for strong soundtracks and scene-setting ambience within video games, and the two remained very much separate entities.
Time has slowly blurred the lines between different types of digital media. EDM has moved firmly into the mainstream and now forms a key part of a video game experience. Music producer Marshmello is a fine example – his core role is EDM production, but he has a YouTube channel and mobile game through which he markets his music. The Verge also reports he featured in a concert on video game Fortnite which drew 10.7m viewers worldwide. Games and music are slowly blurring into one solid form of digital media, going hand in hand to create an immersive user experience for the future.
Of course, many video games now use EDM successfully, whether as a mechanism to set a plot, or even as a core level or backdrop for the action. Even as far back as the early consoles, when sound chips were in their infancy, EDM was being used in memorable titles. The Streets of Rage series on the Mega Drive was one of the first to have an iconic EDM track to accompany the action, making it one of the forefathers of everything that has happened since. It was a single looped track with little variation, but it was a benchmark of sorts that laid the foundations of the modern gaming scene.
Grand Theft Auto Online is a massively successful title spanning three generations of console and making billions of pounds for developer Rockstar. To remain fresh throughout its eight-year run, it turned to EDM artists in 2018. Having already featured a couple of EDM radio stations, with Gilles Peterson recording a set on the game’s release, players were offered a chance to set up their own nightclub and hire popular DJs including Solomun, Tale of Us, Dixon and The Black Madonna. They were digitally rendered into the game too, so it was not only their music that featured but their brand and imagery too.
Rockstar were not the first to leverage EDM within the concept of their title, although they had already done so with the club Maisonette 9 in GTA: The Ballad of Gay Tony. Bioware’s release Mass Effect 2 had a nightclub located in space, a science fiction twist for which good, thumping EDM was completely perfect. Goldeneye Reloaded, Heavy Rain and Hitman: Blood Money all featured similar settings, topped off with great EDM.
Gaming is now no longer confined to consoles but has spread to mobile devices, as they have become more advanced and able to cope with the demand modern titles place upon hardware. Many mobile titles are not quite as varied and sprawling as open-world console releases, but they still use EDM to create very real and authentic experiences for players. Gala Spins features several slot titles with a strong EDM theme, Temple of Light and Disco Diamonds being two of the notable ones. They feature imagery based on a nightclub, but to pull off that ambience there must be a strong soundtrack too. Both games feature good music which helps complete the overall aesthetic of a club or gig, giving the player an experience they are likely to remember and return to.
Beat games are also popular, with players needing to tap to a rhythm, and the repetitive nature of EDM is a perfect fit: Tile Hop: EDM is one such release that perfectly implemented great tunes with an engrossing core concept. Even within the world of online slots, EDM has a place.
Sure, the best place for good dance music is in a club or at a gig, and for EDM fans the overall appeal is surely still in the music itself, not where else it can be found, but the modern world offers lots of scope for EDM to continue seeping through video games. As technology allows, it will only become more popular with developers looking to seize upon its popularity and help package their own products.
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