Game soundtracks – Do you listen to them?

Preface

I’ve recently been given a download to the Hitman soundtrack (looks like anyone who bought the game gets an email, which is pretty cool!), and then I got the Assassin’s Creed Unity soundtrack using some of my uPlay points, and it’s got me thinking……..do people listen to these outside of their original context? If they do, what is that experience like? Do you relive moments, do you enjoy it almost as fresh music because you don’t recognise where it was playing, during the game?

My experience

Ok, so sure, there are those iconic soundtracks, those masterpieces, with which the medium has been allowed to flourish as an art form.  Some of the amazing scores from massive series’, such as Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, The Elder Scrolls etc.   I listen to these soundtracks on occasion, or specific pieces that take me right back to certain moments and events, not just in-game, but in real life, too.  These are some defining moments, and the music that scored those moments will forever take me straight back.

What about the non-iconic?  Those soundtracks that perhaps don’t chronicle your childhood or adolescence.

Audio in games is so crucial, but it seems to me that people sometimes take it for granted.  If the audio is good, then it isn’t really noticed, because visuals take a forefront, particularly when things glitch-out or go wrong.

I listened to the aforementioned soundtracks a few times, and found myself thinking “I don’t remember this at all”, and then thought that I was terrible for not appreciating it during gameplay.

Both soundtracks are lovely, some really nice pieces, and you can imagine them being played as you undertake certain actions, or as you’re in a certain area within a game, the Assassin’s Creed Unity soundtrack was particularly nice, and really felt era-appropriate.

I just feel so bad for not appreciating it in-game.

Is it just too far back in the mix of all the audio going on in-game? Am I just deaf to it when focused on not getting caught/killed?  Is it because tracks aren’t necessarily repeated as much as they used to be (a lot of people know the theme for a battle in a Final Fantasy game, or a chest being opened in a Zelda game, without question)?

As of now, I intend to try and take in the music of a game, a little more, but if it isn’t as present as it could/should be during game play, is that my fault for not taking it in? Or is it bad overall design of the audio?

Thoughts?

What do you think? Have you ever really listened to the soundtrack of Hitman? Did you hear those lovely strings in Assassin’s Creed? Was the excellent Christmas music they played in the tower for Destiny something you’ll remember?  Do we only really take in the theme songs, and everything else is background music?

Perhaps the themes are designed to be synonymous with a place or character, and everything else is just to fill the gap between the sound effects and the deadly silence?

For every “Hyrule theme” or “Halo Theme” how many other themes and pieces of music are ignored and forgotten?

No matter what, I will always take a download of a soundtrack and give it a listen, there is so much to take in when playing a game.  Perhaps isolating it and listening to it with fewer distractions is a better way to take it in?

So many potential hidden gems, and pieces that might just resonate with you, it’s always worth a listen.  Plus, who doesn’t like to experience some new music from time to time?

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