Videogame Music Should Have Lyrics

Lyricized music and video games aren’t the best of friends. There were a few years when they got along, making for some great game music. Then, well, there were other years when ears bled. It wasn’t shocking to fans when these travesties of music were produced. Before the inclusion of lyrics, videogame music was always repetitious beats and tunes that players would hum while playing. We all have our favorites, and most of those favorites have been performed by orchestras or remade into rock operas. It’s always fun to see and listen to, but that can only last for so long.

Videogame music is evolving. We are getting new IPs with new soundtracks all the time. Some of the music is pretty strong. Some of it is pretty weak. In the past decade, music in games has become something of an afterthought. Instead, games are more focused on online features or controls or graphics. Music has become a sort of novelty. When we hear a remixed classic cleverly placed in a next generation game, it’s nostalgic and charming.

However, you can only recycle the same music so many times. At one point, you have to create something new. That’s where lyrics come in. Lyricized music in games has to become paramount in the future. As games and the gaming industry mature, it’s only right for the music to grow into something more. Lyrics weren’t an option back when games were getting popular; we could only have synthesized tones and harmonies. Of course, that didn’t stop some people from (successfully) trying to do something different.

I think it’s only a matter of time before developers start churning fully lyricized game soundtracks. Red Dead Redemption is the perfect example of a game that is testing the waters for this new style of gaming. The game seamlessly blends its gameplay with the music. Others have done it too. We’ve already seen Epic Games take a page out of Gary Jules’ and Devotchka’s playbooks for the Gears of War commercials.

Alan Wake is another worthy contender. That game has some incredible music on its soundtrack. I mean, it even has David Bowie. Bowie!

These games show it is possible for lyricized music to be taken seriously in games. I mean, there are some poor examples out there. Most of Capcom’s games seem to be written by foreign pop enthusiasts trapped in the 90’s or foreign metal enthusiasts trapped in the 90’s. Or, well, this.

Overall, though, I believe the integration of lyrical soundtracks in video games will only help the industry mature further. I’m not saying every game deserves music with lyrics. I’m just saying that the next logical step for games would be to really flesh out their soundtracks. With games like Rock Band turning so many artists onto games, now is the perfect time to experiment. With film, famous artists will sometimes compose the entire soundtrack for a movie, like Trent Reznor did for the Social Network or like Eddie Vedder did for Into the Wild.

Music is a powerful element of games that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in the past decade. Going foward, it’s time to change that.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Greg Galiffa View all posts by
Greg Galiffa is an Associate Editor at GamerNode. He's also an apologist for the first TMNT film. You can follow him on Twitter @greggaliffa

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.