How Important Is Background Music in Online Games?

When it comes to game design, whether it be for console, PC, smartphone or online, there are a number of elements a developer must consider. Graphics, plot, voice actors, interactions within the game and background music are just some of the key parts that go towards creating a great title. This remains true regardless of the genre as well, as background audio is found in every title from blockbuster video games to online casino titles.

Today, we thought we’d take a look at how background music impacts a game and its players to see if it can really have an impact on gameplay.

According to a study published in the Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy in July 2015, background music is an indispensable element of every effective game, especially when it comes to immersion. As we’re sure all avid gamers know, immersion is a critical part of gameplay, as without it a title can easily become dull and, in some cases, we simply won’t feel the need or desire to continue playing at all.  No, to truly enjoy a game, most players need to be fully absorbed in the gameplay, becoming active participants within the story.

Researcher Jiulin Zhang of Southwest University in China gathered eighty participants to take part in his experiment, half of which wore headphones while playing a game and half of which did not. After playing a video game for twenty minutes, each participant was asked to conduct three tests – fill out a questionnaire, complete a task and consider time distortion. After every player had completed their tasks, the results showed that those who had been listening to the background music performed better in the questionnaire and expressed clear signs of time distortion, as well as being somewhat less impressive in the after-game task. Zhang surmised that the background music had a huge impact on the players’ immersion in the video games, so much so that they had a harder time keeping track of time and removing themselves mentally from the game.

This is part of why incredibly popular video games such as Journey have managed to have such an impact on the gaming community, despite the fact no dialogue is present. It is why to this day adults can still remember the theme tune for Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario Brothers, despite having not played the games for years. This is also why online casino games like Sakura Fortune and Candy Dreams at CasinoCruise have specially selected themes to absorb players.

In fact, iGaming titles are particularly interesting as online casinos always aim to create an authentic atmosphere for their players. For example, slots that have been licenced by huge franchises often include a lot of background music and sound effects based on their inspiration. This is particularly clear in the Transformers: Battle for Cybertron slot for instance, where mechanical sounds accompany the reels while iconic themes play in the background. Of course, more traditional games such as roulette also have background music, which helps player become immersed in the game and can even make them feel like they’re in a land based casino.

So, why does background music have such a large impact on immersion? Well, music has the unique ability to express emotions, stories and nuance without a single word needing to be spoken. Using music, a games developer can communicate and evoke an entire array of feelings, leading to a more enriching gaming experience. Of course, the type of music used is also critically important. After all, Mortal Kombat would not suit a sombre tune and The Last of Us wouldn’t have had such a huge emotional impact on players if they were subconsciously bopping along to some dubstep number during the more emotional scenes.

Needless to say, background music is endlessly important when it comes to game development, which is why we would go as far as to assume you yourself have a favourite game track. Let us know what it is in the comments below!

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