The Voice Of Horror Issue 1: Pong And Pacman

I’m pretty psyched to bring you a new original Bloody Disgusting Music series that is called The Voice Of Horror. In this series, I’ll be looking at the importance of sound and music in a specific title, whether it be video game, TV show, or movie. As we all know, if the sound or the music in a horror medium isn’t up to snuff, the medium suffers tremendously. It’s also known that while people might be okay with mediocre visuals, no one wants to listen to mediocre sound. An example of this is The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield. Realistically, the video of these films is not the best: There are a lot of jittery moments, blurry visuals, sharp cuts, and more. However, the audio in these films is very well done and that is why we are okay with watching it. Imagine watching either of those films and the sound was peaking and/or distorting constantly, people would go from being really loud to really quiet just because of where the camera microphone was aimed, etc… It would be pretty damn unbearable. So that is why I chose to start off this new series. And to kick it off, I’m going to talk a bit about a subject that I happen to love: Video games.

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Check after the jump for the first edition!

I’m an avid video gamer. I have been since I was old enough to hold an 8-bit Nintendo controller in my hands, even though I wasn’t able to walk yet. Friends came over for sleepovers and we’d play the newest game until we couldn’t keep our eyes open for one moment longer. Then, upon waking up, we’d keep going. To this day I get excited about new games, keep up-to-date on the goings on of the video game industry, and love to play video games with friends. It’s part of who I am and I don’t try to hide it or deny it. 
Along with my love of video games is my love of music. I mean, c’mon, I’ve been writing for the music section of B-D for almost a year now, so this should be pretty obvious. This love of music and interesting, unique sounds has been with me since as long as I can remember. Music and sounds have the power to move me and evoke radically different emotions, depending on the current situation. 
And so, I now combine two of my interests to bring to you this article where I try to target my personal feelings regarding the importance of music and audio in the video game world, with an emphasis on horror games, of course. Each of these is a short description as I could probably write pages upon pages on each game, but I figure short is sweet.
Pong
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I figure in order to talk about the games that I love so much, I first have to take a moment to talk about the history of sound and music within video games. What better place to start than with Pong, probably one of the most recognizable and imitated games. Originally released in 1972, Pong became the first commercially successful arcade game. The concept of the game couldn’t be any easier, two sticks move up and down to bounce a ball back and forth until someone scores. 
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The audio of the game was the very definition of minimalist. A few beeps and boops and that was it. There was no music to speak of. But this was just the beginning of where video games were going visually, interactively and sonically. 
Pacman
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By 1980, the arcades were already full of classic games that many of us have come to know and love. Most were derivatives of Pong or were games like Space Invaders. Out of nowhere, a little yellow guy that likes to eat more pellets than a starving rabbit came along and changed arcade games forever. Pacman, to this day, is listed as one of the most recognizable video game characters in history. 
Gameplay wise, Pacman was a relatively simple game: Get all the pellets and don’t get hit by the ghosts. However, the game always like to change things up which pretty much ensured that you were going to die and pump quarters into the machine, one after another. 
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Musically and audibly, the game is incredibly simple by today’s standards. However, back then, the addition of simple little tunes, sound effects for every action and programmed sounds very death were the beginning of creating a more immersive experience. It’s because of these changes to video games that we get some of those incredible soundtracks/themes that evoke an emotional response (if you played FF7, think Aerith’s Theme and tell me your gut doesn’t tighten a little).
In the coming days, there will be a new post with a new video game and a bit about the music and the audio and how it affected the gameplay. Check back and make sure to let me know your thoughts!
‘The Voice Of Horror’ banner was created by Dead Pixel’s Adam Dodd.