Playlist: “Game On”

by Sonia Calzaretta ’18

Whether you’re working out or just working, video game music can help you focus! It’s designed to keep players immersed in the game, so it’s the perfect background to any activity that requires concentration. This is a playlist I made for my radio show a few weeks ago, and it’s one of my favorites!

  • “Solar Collector” by Grant Kirkhope (Sid Meyer’s Civilization: Beyond Earth)
    • This song starts with the quiet hum of a space station in motion. A string section soon joins in, and the machinery is replaced by a chorus of human voices. I love the way this song builds from start to finish.
  • “First and Last” by Michael McCann (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
    • This song jumps right in with a whining something (I can’t quite identify the instrument) and a drumbeat that reminds me of something out of Mad Max.
  • “In Case of Trouble” by Darren Korb (Bastion)
    • I love the way this song comes right on the tail end of “First and Last,” although the instruments are different the pacing is very similar. Also, Bastion’s entire soundtrack is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard and I can highly recommend any song on it.
  • “Silver for Monsters” by Percival Schuttenbach (Witcher 3)
    • This song plays on the same musical themes at the one before it, although this one moves at a faster pace and with a higher intensity than the song from Bastion. I loved it the moment I heard it and just had to put it on this list.
  • “Nascence” by Austin Wintory (Journey)
    • There’s only one thing to say about this song and it’s that it will take you on a freaking trip. I don’t know how to describe it. I only know I love it.
  • “Leaving Earth” by Clint Mansell (Mass Effect 4)
    • This song starts in a similar way to “Solar Collector,” except that the quiet piano here is mixed with a blaring blastoff alarm and suddenly becomes a lot more threatening. You know it’s about looking into the darkness of space and seeing nothing but breathless fear and endless wonder.
  • “Far Cry 3” by Brian Tyler (Far Cry 3)
    • This song starts with weird static, almost like a flickering dial tone, and the ticking of a nearby clock. If you listen with headphones it feels as though the noise is coming from all around you. It’s ominous, but really cool.
  • “Subject Name Here” by the Aperture Science Psychoacoustic Laboratories (Portal 2)
    • This song is pretty much just a whole lot of beeps and boops, but I still like it. I think it provides a nice change of pace.
  • “Waterfall” by Tobyfox (Undertale)
    • There are too many good songs in the Undertale soundtrack. I had the hardest time choosing between this song and “Spear of Justice” (the theme for Undyne, my favorite character). I eventually picked “Waterfall” at the behest of one of my friends whom I’d asked for suggestions.
  • “Sacred Grove” by Video Game Players (Legend of Zelda: the Twilight Princess)
    • This song is so memorable and catchy that when I played it in the car all of my friends starting trying to “sing” along, by which I mean we all sat there trying to make ocarina and flute noises.
  • “Climbing the Ginso Tree” by Gareth Coker (Ori and the Blind Forest)
    • I’ve never played the game that this song comes from, but it was recommended to me by someone I know and it turns out that the entire soundtrack is really, really good. The art style is beautiful, too.
  • “Fable Theme” by Danny Elfman (Fable)
    • As far as I can tell, this song is a classic among people who know video games. I was going through my playlist to prepare it for broadcasting and my friend Henry perked up from halfway across the room like “Wait, is this Fable?” The answer is yep, it sure is. Not only is it well-known, it’s also just a great song with sweeping strings and thunderous drums.
  • “The Knight’s Theme” by Jason Graves (The Order: 1886)
    • This one starts with a multitude of slow strings, suggesting a creeping fog and political intrigue. It eventually deepens, adding a chorus of human voices and a rolling drum in the background, building the tension all the way to the end.
  • “A Thief’s End” by Henry Jackman (Uncharted 4)
    • I like the way this song mirrors the ones at the beginning of the playlist, using strings and drums to indicate someone running across rough terrain. I get an image in my head of a fast-moving aerial shot that tracks the movement of a lone person dashing headlong through a thick jungle.
  • “We Are the Division” by Ola Strandh (The Division)
    • I’m not sure what The Division is about, but from the cover it seems to be some kind of apocalypse scenario, possibly with zombies in it. The song is dramatic and dark, but with hopeful undertones and sweeping strings that carry us high over the city for a bird’s-eye view of the devastation — and, just possibly, the reconstruction of humanity.
  • “The Last of Us” by Gustavo Santaolalla (The Last of Us)
    • I’ve never played The Last of Us, but I’m told that it’ll make just about anyone cry. This song certainly points to that. The guitar and strings are just slightly off-putting, as is the sound of crunching gravel that’s used as percussion. I’d like to play this game if jump scares and zombies didn’t terrify me so badly.
  • “Born Unto Trouble” by Bill Elm & Woody Jackson (Red Dead Redemption)
    • This song has a Wild West-esque sound to it that I really love, plus it moves really nicely out of “The Last of Us” because of that earthy-sounding fiddle and whistling. The way the whistle echoes makes me think of a vast, empty canyon, which again draws me back to the crunching gravel in the song we just heard.
  • “Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag Theme” by Brian Tyler (Assassin’s Creed 4)
    • If I’m being honest, this song doesn’t really come that well out of “Born Unto Trouble.” I just wanted it to go last because it’s my favorite song on the playlist and I like to play my favorite song last. The violins connect it somewhat to the previous few songs, but we also eventually get a rollicking drumbeat that makes the song dynamic and fluid. It calls back to the songs from Bastion and Witcher that we had at the top of the playlist.

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