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Video Game Design and Development: A Bit-by-Bit History of Video Game Music: Video Game Sound and Music

Chart the evolution of the classic 8-bit sound and discover the role of musicians in game design and development.

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Game design course image: a Nintendo Game Boy and a Tetris cartridge, representing 8-bit video game music
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Chart the history of video game music, bit by bit

From early arcade games to modern open-world adventures, video game soundtracks have made an indelible mark on our culture.

On this course, you’ll get an introduction to video game music and the platforms that define it (including Atari and NES), focusing on the evolution of the classic 8-bit sound.

Featuring exclusive interviews with top video game composers and musicians, you’ll get hands-on with recorded examples, downloadable demos, and sample code.

You’ll draw on technology, musicology, and cultural studies to chart the development of the best video game music – from Pong to the complex arrangements of today’s first-person shooters.

What topics will you cover?

  • The Atari VCS
  • The ZX Spectrum
  • The Commodore 64
  • Week 1 Summary and Test
  • The NES
  • From Chips to Tunes
  • Playing with Sound: Adaptive Music Engines
  • Week 2 Summary and Test

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe key moments in the development of video game soundtracks from the first generation of microcomputers and consoles to the present day
  • Explain how the technical constraints of early video game consoles and home computers shaped the qualities of the music that was written for them
  • Evaluate different approaches to writing and implementing interactive music for video games
  • Discuss the main ideas of the course and share your insights with other participants

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in game design and development. This includes those considering studying it at university and entering the games industry or becoming a video game music composer.

It will also appeal to anyone interested in electronic or gaming music, movie soundtracks, screen media, and video games.

Some experience of music notation and music theory would be helpful, but no prior knowledge is required or assumed.

What software or tools do you need?

No specific software or hardware is required for this course.

Who will you learn with?

Kenny McAlpine is a musician, author and academic at Abertay University. Kenny is interested in everything, from music technology and video games to PG Tips and PG Wodehouse.

Who developed the course?

Abertay University

Abertay is a global leader in computer games education.

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  • Access to this course
  • Access to ALL eligible short courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Buy this course

$54

One-off payment

Unlock your expertise

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

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  • Limited access to course content for 2 weeks

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