Music and Video Games have always been a big part of my life — also sports, but not so much these days.*
I have, however, recently gotten back into some sports games after a long hiatus.
Side Quest: You can find out more about how my love for sports has declined
over on my other site, Ferdi’s Learnings, some time next week.
I grew up playing games like NBA Live, Madden and other sporting titles while listening to CDs on my stereo. As I played these console games on my TV, my stereo was pumping out the latest Nas, DMX, Outkast, and whatever albums I had recently acquired for my collection.
Listening to certain albums today still reminds me of playing specific games in my room. DMX’s The Great Depression brings back memories of playing NBA Live 2002 (with Steve Francis on the cover) on my PlayStation 2, Outkast’s double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below takes me back to Madden 2003, and anything by The Offspring always makes me think of Crazy Taxi on the Sega Dreamcast.
I don’t remember if it was the Dreamcast, Xbox, or PlayStation 2, but at some point players were able to rip albums straight onto certain console’s hard drives. From there, you could play them as background music in some games. This was sort of like a precursor to what I do today.
A few years ago, PlayStation 4 integrated Spotify. Allowing players to listen to pretty much anything while gaming. This was the main reason why I was subscribed to both Apple Music and Spotify early on. My entire music library was on Apple Music, but I enjoyed using Spotify on my PS4.
Recently, Apple Music was also introduced (which is what I use now). Since Apple Music has been added to the PlayStation 4 and 5 I’ve been able to choose my own soundtrack for my sports and driving games. I simply turn off the game’s curated playlist in the menu and now I have my own, forever-changing, soundtrack to these games.
When it comes to story-driven and narrative games I don’t usually mess with the music. Current games have stellar soundtracks with film-quality scores. I even listen to video game soundtracks on their own. There was a time where I would run while listening to the music from Celeste, The Legend of Zelda, and the Final Fantasy franchise (Distant Worlds & Mega Ran’s Black Materia).
Even retro games have wonderful retro soundtracks. Video game soundtracks have become so popular that they get special editions on vinyl. I own a few of these.
The reason why I continue to use my own music for sports and driving games is because I still remember the “Madden songs” of the 2000s. I even consider specific artists (Andrew W.K., Franz Ferdinand, Good Charlotte) as Madden musicians, because they had one or two songs in a Madden game over the years. It’s kind of like when you hear a song that you first heard in a commercial, and you say to yourself, “Aw, that’s the Chevy truck song.”
Because these games use a collection of about twenty to fifty songs, you end up hearing the same songs over and over. Sure, they may be good songs (some of them), but I’m ready for something different. It would be nice if the developer would add some tracks as FREE DLC (Downloadable Content) every few months. Maybe they can find a way to rent vs buy songs, to switch them out and keep the music fresh.
For now I will continue to use my own soundtrack for these games. For games with a real score, I’m cool with listening to those the way they are.
I just realized something. Maybe, if I had been gaming on my PC this whole time, I would have had more control over my music. I could have just opened iTunes or some kind of music player in the background while playing games. I guess I’ve just always been more of a console gamer, even if that did make it harder to listen to music while playing certain games. I figured it out though and now technology has caught up to my preferences.
Do you like to play games while listening to the game’s music or your own custom soundtrack?
Is there something else you prefer to listen to while playing games?
Let us know in the comments…