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The Playstation

Dr Kenny McAlpine examines Sony's Playstation, and how its CD-ROM drive, combined with Sony's back catalogue, changed the sound of game music.

The release of the PlayStation, with its integral CD-ROM drive changed the sound of video game music forever.

Before then, music had to be generated in real-time using on-board sound chips. The CD-ROM enabled developers to produce authentic-sounding popular music and store it on CD. In this video, we’ll examine how the combination of CD-ROM technology and Sony using games as a way to cross-promote its music, shifted gamers’ expectations.

It could be argued, however, that the gains in sound quality were at the expense – at least in the short term – of interaction between the game and the music. Streaming audio is essentially linear, and so doesn’t integrate quite so tightly with gameplay. Was that trade-off worth it? Or is it possible to have the best of both worlds? How might a composer write music for a video game that has a very produced and polished sound, but which is still flexible enough to adapt to the gameplay?

Spend some time thinking about this, and post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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

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