Ludic music in video games
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Like film music, video game music is a narrative device that helps portray the fictional world of a video game. But unlike films, video games are part fiction, part rules. This thesis considers to what extent music can be part of a game's rules - in other words: to what extent it can be ludic music. Not all video game music is both ludic and narrative. In fact, there are only a few cases in which music is essential to the rules of a game. I look at three possible roles for ludic music: as a guide, an obstacle, and a reward. As a guide to the player, music is interchangeable with other, non-musical sounds, and therefore not a necessary part of the rules. Music can be an obstacle to the player in the form of certain musical puzzles that encourage the use of musical skills to solve them. Music can reward a player by adapting itself to his or her actions, but this is generally not essential to their progression through a game. The most clear-cut case of ludic music can be found in karaoke-like music games, in which music acts both as an obstacle and a reward. These games also introduce a performative aspect that is not quite ludic and not quite narrative, and thereby open up a gap for new theoretical perspectives on the role of music in video games.