Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Wednesday, Feb 8, 2012
It isn't really a song about video games, of course. However, it is interesting for what it implies about games by taking gaming for granted as a normalized cultural practice.

I know that Lana Del Rey is receiving all kinds of critical backlash at present from the music community about her authenticity as an artist, her botched SNL performance, and the like.


However, one way or the other, “Video Games” is a rather beautiful song.  It strikes a pretty, but mournful tone that is full of a melancholy, uncertain nostalgia from a twenty-something-years-old artist, and it has managed to solder itself into my consciousness pretty effectively in recent days.


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Saturday, Feb 6, 2010
There's a new emergent music game being sold for charity with tracks by a wide variety of musicians.

There’s an excellent emergent music game that has just gone up on Xbox Live that you should check out if you can spare 400 Microsoft dollars. It’s called Chimes, and the company is donating a large portion of its profits to the Save the Children and Starlight charities. An emergent music games basically work like this: a steady background beat is mixed with feedback, which blends together to create a kind of robust song space. Examples of this notion of emergent music can be found in a game like Lumines, in which a sound is created when a square is completed or the cube is rotated, Everyday Shooter tightly organizes guitar riffs with abstract enemies that all give off different sounds when shot or killed, and Rez HD does the same thing but with a techno theme.


Chimes is an interesting take on the block matching formula by focusing the gameplay on a race against the clock. There’s no worrying about overfill to interrupt your play. The game is simply about making big block clusters that you can build on in order to try to fill the map with these same clusters. As the mass gets bigger, a background sound plays and the feedback noises change, depending on the blocks. Once enough collected blocks get big enough, the sounds change to match the new background. Borrowing an idea from Lumines, the music is a lot more coherent because a beat bar will slide over the level and strike the notes in sequence. The more blocks and clusters that you have organized, the more notes that the game plays back at you. It was a pretty unique experience, sort of like building a sand castle where you just pile things up and play around with the different noises. It mimics Rez HD in the sense that it’s very accessible to play and also to unlock levels for those just interested in the music. Nevertheless, it offers a lot of challenge for people who want to make high scores.


 


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