Psallite Deo! – Music in video games

Creating a successful videogame isn’t just putting excellent graphics and an impressive ingame world together and hoping to get a blockbuster title. From the first peepsy sounds of 8bit video games to the fully orchestrated scores of the modern blockbuster games, the music in video games is one of the key factors for the immersive gaming moments we all speak about years later. Let’s take a closer look at video game music and why it is so important…

When you first think of video game music, what is it? The drums and trombones of the Battlefield 1942 Soundtrack? Or the strange “Soviet March” from the old Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3? Is it the sad and despaired “Lament of the Highborn” of Lady Sylvanas of the Forsaken in World of Warcraft, or the grim male voices and fascinating trumpets in the “Dragonborn” tale in Skyrim? I’m very sure, that everyone of you, dear readers, have a unique gaming moment, which is connected with the music in a video game.

Calling all Dawns

My personal highlights are “Invincible” from the World of Warcraft soundtrack and “Baba Yetu” from the Civilisation IV main menu, which is actually the Swahili version of the “Our Father” prayer! Yeah…you already see where this blog post is going? ;)Both, “Invincible” and “Baba Yetu”  are beautiful examples how impressive music can be when it is played in the right circumstances and with the right instruments and musicians.


Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!
Sing out the honor of His name;
Make His praise glorious.

– Psalm 66 –

Both, “Invincible” and “Baba Yetu”  are beautiful examples how impressive music can be when it is played in the right circumstances and with the right instruments and musicians. Christopher Tin made an outstanding and amazing piece of music when he wrote “Baba Yetu” for the fourth part of the civilization series. Listening to “Our Father” in a video game is one of these epic moments I love and enjoy, and when I heard and learned about “Baba Yetu” long before I owned Civilisation IV, I was stunned and listened to it many times on youtube.

The Suite “Calling all Dawns”, which is an instrumental journey of life, death and rebirth, is a crossover-album with classical and ethnic music. It contains different songs in very unusual languages like Gaelic, Latin, Sanskrit or Hebrew. All texts are taken from the Bible, Torah or equally sacred books of eastern religions or even the Maori religion. “Calling all Dawns” was released in 2009 and won two Grammies for “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists” and for “Best Classical Crossover Album”. It was also the very first time, that video game music was awarded with a public and popular award.

Invincible

“Invincible” is another piece of music, which moves me in a special way. The Warcraft universe is a medieval-fantasy setting and generations of players had fun in playing the RTS games Warcraft 1-3. When Blizzard Entertainment published “World of Warcraft” in 2004, they also created a milestone in gaming history and continued the story of betrayal, war and ambivalent heroes.


Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
-Psalm 150, 3-6

“Invincible” was released as a stand-alone song for the fifth birthday of World of Warcraft, but already could be heard in the “Warcraft3: Frozen Throne” end credits and in the opening and ending cinematics of “World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lichking”. The Warcraft-wiki tells us a bit about the background of the song:”An ode to one who has fallen. Time and events have left it unclear whether the song refers to the former prince of Lordaeron or his beloved steed.”

For all fans and Lore enthusiasts it is clear: The song covers both: the lament for Arthas and for Invincible, his steed, who were connected in life and later, when Arthas fell to become the “Lichking”, in death – or better “undeath”.

Music is also a non-negotiable part of the Bible. The best example for this are the psalters of King David and others (Ps 33;66;150 etc.), who praise God or cry out to the Lord in desperation. There are 5 or more Psalters as an example why we as Christians should praise the Lord not only in words or actions but also in music and songs. Just two are featured in this text. Over thousands of years, music is part of the christian life. Hundreds of names from King David in his psalters in the old testament, the medieval gregorian and secular chants over to the spheric music of Gregorio Allegri and Thomas Tallis in the renaissance, followed by great componists like Bach until the modern Bands like Third Day or Casting Crowns.

As christian gamers we share the passion for games and for the word of God. The connecting element is the music, which is part of our christian life and part of video games. We have seen that gaming music can also be “christian” in a special way so listen closely next time when you play your favourite games.

Game on and God bless!

Lukas

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