Music video game

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Open source music video game StepMania Stemania4 Alpha4.png
Open source music video game StepMania

A music video game, also commonly known as a music game, is a video game where the gameplay is meaningfully and often almost entirely oriented around the player's interactions with a musical score or individual songs. Music video games may take a variety of forms and are often grouped with puzzle games [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] due to their common use of "rhythmically generated puzzles". [7] [8]


Music video games are distinct from purely audio games (e.g. the 1997 Sega Saturn release Real Sound: Kaze no Regret ) in that they feature a visual feedback, to lead the player through the game's soundtrack, although eidetic music games can fall under both categories.[ citation needed ]


Music video games are games where there is typically some type of interactivity of the gameplay with the game's music. This may be where the music is generated in response to the player's actions, or where the player reacts to the beats and notes of the music. [9] As the genre has gained popularity and expanded, music video games have demonstrated the ability to support a range of different styles of gameplay, making the genre itself rather diffuse. A game such as Rayman Legends features levels that are based on endless runners but where the player scores better by matching their actions to the musical cues, which could make this a music video game. [10]

Instead, it is easier to consider the sub-genres of music video games based on how the player interacts with the music in the game, of which there are four main types as described by the concepts of "matching, making, mixing, and metonymy" as described by Michael Austin, the director of the School of Music at Louisiana Tech University. [10] These ideas correlate to the subgenres as described below. Music games may feature multiple modes; for example, Frequency is primary a scored rhythm matching game but also includes a music mixing gameplay feature for players to make their own mixes of the available songs. [9]

Rhythm-matching games

Frets on Fire, an open-source Guitar Hero clone, is an example of a rhythm-matching game. Fretsonfire4.png
Frets on Fire , an open-source Guitar Hero clone, is an example of a rhythm-matching game.

Rhythm matching games or simply rhythm games require the player to respond in some fashion in time to music as it is played and shown via the game, all generally to emphasis the rhythm of the song being played. This may be by performing specific actions on a controller with precision timing as the note is played. Players are generally scored by not only hitting the right control but how precisely they hit it in time with the music. To improve in such games, players often begin to learn the required actions to memory as to be able to anticipate difficult sections or areas where high scoring is possible. [10]

The wide variety of possible player input have created a range of rhythm games, from Dance Dance Revolution where player input moves on a dance mat, Donkey Konga in which players beat on a conga drum-like controller, and the Guitar Hero series where players simulate the fingering and strumming on a guitar-shaped controller. This concept also extends to singing games like Karaoke Revolution , with players scored for how well they match the pitch of the vocal track. [11]

Rhythm games are the most dominant form of the music game genre. [10] The electronic game Simon is considered the earliest example of a rhythm game, [9] [10] while early games that defined the rhythm-matching aspects include Dance Aerobics (1987) and PaRappa the Rapper (1996). More recent titles include the Guitar Hero (2005) and Rock Band (2007) series, Beat Saber (2019), and Friday Night Funkin’ (2020). [12] [13]

Hybrid rhythm games

A further class of rhythm games are hybrid rhythm games or music reactive games. In comparison to the forementioned rhythm games where the rhythm matching is the primary focus and the player's action helps to generate the music that they hear, reactive games let the background music guide the player action, leaving the rhythm gameplay elements secondary to the main gameplay form. [14] Often in these hybrid rhythm games, the player plays the game as they normally would but can use the in-game music to time actions often to better their score, thus affecting the interaction between the player and the in-game dynamics as goal of the game. [15] In Rez or Free the Beat , for example, the game takes the form of a simple rail shooter; however, by integrating sound effects created by the actions of the player (as he completes the normal tasks of rail-shooting) with the soundtrack as a whole, the game is intended to permit the player's direct interaction with the soundtrack and to encourage the creation of a synaesthetic experience. [9] [16] Other similar games include Pteranodon , Rhyme Rider Kerorican , or iS – internal section . A further class of these games allow for users to provide music that is then processed dynamically by the game to create challenges for that song, so that players are not dependent on the game's developer to extend the game's library of songs. Such games include Vib-Ribbon , Audiosurf , or Dance Factory . [17]

Music-making games

Music-making freeform music games are those in which the creation of music takes predominance over gameplay and as such these games are often more similar to non-game music synthesizers such as the Tenori-on. Players are given the ability to create their own music from a variety of sounds, instruments or voices, typically with no goal or objective. Free form music games occupy a position somewhere between generative hybrid music games and non-game utilities dependent upon the degree to which their gameplay relies upon a driving underlying plotline. This form of music game is closely analogous to sandbox games in the realm of non-musical games and the term "sandbox" has been used to describe this form of gameplay. [18] Examples of such games include SimTunes or the music composition tool in Mario Paint . [10]

Music-mixing games

Music-mixing games are those in which players take premade sounds, music, or other audio tracks and interact with them in the game to create new works. These games are similarly sandbox in nature a music-making games, though by creation of certain combination of sounds, the player may be awarded points or unlock additional features. Such games include Incredibox and Fuser . [10]

Music-themed games

The fourth subgenre of music games are those that are related to the metonymy of music, where the game may feature narration about the creation of music but not feature gameplay related to music. For example, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker would be a considered a music-themed game as it is based on the musical works of Michael Jackson, but as a beat'em up, has none of the typical mechanics associated with the other subgenres of music games. [10] One of the first examples of this type of subgenre, and of music games in general, is the 1983 arcade game Journey , named after band of the same name, which featured some of the group's music and digitized versions of the band members. [19]

Music games for live performance

Players performing at a PAX event while playing Rock Band 2 RockBand2PAX.jpg
Players performing at a PAX event while playing Rock Band 2

Some music video games, regardless of their fundamental gameplay, may offer modes to allow players to use the game for creating live performances, typically using freeform or non-scoring modes with multiple local players. Games like Guitar Hero and Singstar offer such modes that also give the player the opportunity for physical presence as part of their performance for others. [9] [20]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Space Channel 5</i> 1999 video game

Space Channel 5 is a music video game developed by United Game Artists and published by parent company Sega. Originally released for the Dreamcast, it was later ported to the PlayStation 2. A version for the Game Boy Advance (GBA) was published in 2003 as a Western exclusive. Following space-faring reporter Ulala as she investigates an alien invasion, players engage in rhythm-based combat where Ulala mimics the actions of rivals in time to musical tracks.

Tetsuya Mizuguchi Japanese video game designer, producer and businessman

Tetsuya Mizuguchi is a Japanese video game designer, producer, and businessman. Along with ex-Sega developers he is the one of the co-founders of the video game development firm Q Entertainment. He formerly worked for Sega as a producer in their Sega AM3 'arcade machines' team, developing games like Sega Rally Championship and Sega Touring Car Championship, before moving on to become the head of Sega's United Game Artists division, the team responsible for Rez and Space Channel 5. Mizuguchi is known for creating video games that incorporate an emphasis on interactive sound design, evidenced by Rez, Lumines, and Child of Eden.

<i>Rez</i> 2001 rail shooter video game

Rez is a musical rail shooter developed by United Game Artists and published by Sega for the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2. It was released in Japan in 2001, followed by releases to the United States and Europe in 2002. The game was ported to Xbox 360 as Rez HD by Q Entertainment and HexaDrive in 2008. A virtual reality-compatible expanded version dubbed Rez Infinite was co-developed and released through 2016, 2017, and 2020 by Enhance Games, Resonair and Monstars for PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Android and Oculus Quest.

Action game Action video game genre

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United Game Artists

United Game Artists (UGA) was a subsidiary of Sega headquartered in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. It was founded by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, a video game developer who had experience with Sega's AM3 division. After separating with Kenji Sasaki to form AM Annex, Mizuguchi left Sasaki's team to form another division. This studio would later be known as Sega Consumer Development 4 (CS4) and Research and Development #9 while a department of Sega, before becoming UGA as a wholly owned subsidiary of Sega.

Action-adventure game Action-adventure video game genre

Action-adventure is a video game genre that combines core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres.

Rhythm game Genre of music-themed action video game

Rhythm game or rhythm action is a genre of music-themed action video game that challenges a player's sense of rhythm. Games in the genre typically focus on dance or the simulated performance of musical instruments, and require players to press buttons in a sequence dictated on the screen. Many rhythm games include multiplayer modes in which players compete for the highest score or cooperate as a simulated musical ensemble. While conventional game controllers may be used as input devices, rhythm games often feature novel game controllers that emulate musical instruments. Certain dance-based games require the player to physically dance on a mat, with pressure-sensitive pads acting as the input device.

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<i>Lumines: Puzzle Fusion</i> 2004 puzzle video game

Lumines: Puzzle Fusion is a 2004 puzzle game developed by Q Entertainment. It was published for PlayStation Portable (PSP) by Bandai in Japan and internationally by Ubisoft. Players rotate and drop blocks containing random tiles of two colors so they make filled rectangular shapes of the same color on the playing field. As players progress through the game it transitions between skins, affecting the colors and music.

<i>Grand Theft Auto</i> clone Video game subgenre

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<i>Space Channel 5: Part 2</i>

Space Channel 5: Part 2 is a music video game developed by United Game Artists. A direct sequel to the 1999 game Space Channel 5, the game was published for Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 in Japan in February 2002 by Sega. The PS2 version released worldwide in 2003 by SCEE and Agetec. The game later received a high-definition port to Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2011 from Sega.

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Falling-sand game

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<i>Child of Eden</i>

Child of Eden is a 2011 musical rail shooter developed by Q Entertainment and published by Ubisoft for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Following the players's journey to purge a far-future internet of viruses, the gameplay features shooting numerous enemies from a first-person perspective, with scores based on performance and bonuses awarded for syncing groups of shots with each stage's musical track. In addition to standard controllers, each version has the option to use motion controls through the Kinect and PlayStation Move respectively. It is a spiritual successor to the 2001 title Rez, carrying over the aim of producing a feeling of synesthesia in players

<i>Fantasia: Music Evolved</i>

Fantasia: Music Evolved is a 2014 motion-controlled music rhythm game developed by Harmonix for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One with Kinect. The game is the interactive successor to Walt Disney's 1940 animated film Fantasia and its 1999 sequel Fantasia 2000, both of which it is based upon.

This list includes terms used in video games and the video game industry, as well as slang used by players.


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