This week, we at The Avid Listener are pleased to bring you an essay about rock music in video games. Guest author William Gibbons discusses how and why songs are chosen to be part of the soundtrack for games such as Grand Theft Auto V, Madden NFL 11, and Portal. Here’s an excerpt:
“Consider these three moments from video games: (1) While taking my ‘borrowed’ car for a spin in Grand Theft Auto V (2013), I spend some time searching for the right in-game radio station. Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” (1973) doesn’t seem quite right, and I switch through Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin’” (1979) and Rihanna’s “Only Girl (in the World)” (2010) before finally settling on Stevie Wonder’s “Skeletons” (1987). (2) After scoring the winning touchdown in Madden NFL 11 (2010), I put my controller down to gloat about my victory. As the game sits on a menu screen, my friends and I hear a series of classic rock and metal songs, from KISS’s “Rock and Roll All Nite” (1975) to Bush’s “Machinehead” (1996) and Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” (1987). (3) As I satisfyingly complete the final tasks in the puzzle game Portal (2007), I settle in to watch the ending credits. To my surprise, I hear “Still Alive,” written by the folk-rock musician Jonathan Coulton specifically for the game—a song that has since become one of Coulton’s most popular tunes…”
Read the full essay here. As always, we invite you to leave a comment or question and stay for the conversation.