Online course in Tech & Coding

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

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

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

  • Duration 2 weeks
  • Weekly study 2 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $59 Find out more

Chart the history of video game music, bit by bit

This online course introduces you to video game music and the platforms that define it, focusing on the evolution of the classic 8-bit sound.

The course draws on technology, musicology and cultural studies to chart the development of video game music – from the geometric tones of Pong and to the complex arrangements of today’s first-person shooters.

The course features exclusive interviews with video game musicians, plus recorded examples, downloadable demos and sample code, so you can get hands on.

By the end, you’ll listen to those bleeps and bloops with a newfound respect.

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?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now
    This course started 3 Jun 2019

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, including those who are considering studying it at university and entering the games industry.

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

Kenny McAlpine

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 is a global leader in computer games education.

Join this course

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  • Access to this course for 4 weeks

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  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • Access to this course’s tests as well as a print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible
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  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
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