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The apple site has two REALLY interesting articles today on news in music and
art in video games. I figure there are very few families here whose kids
aren't interested in one or two or all of those topics, so here are some excerpts
and links. I've also linked this to my video games page, so if you don't
think you care today and change your mind later, you can find it by going to
sandradodd.com/unschooling, and to video games, and it's right up top.

Sandra (quotes start after this):

Gazing across the flat, grassy plains of a virtual savannah, you may as well
be standing on another planet — which, in a sense, you are. The Myst-like
virtual world of Dr. Hilary Rhodes’ “Exploration Without Boundaries” is built
with three-dimensional dreamscapes that have never been captured on film, and
never could be.

Part theater, part art, “Exploration Without Boundaries” invites armchair
travelers to explore 48 virtual landscapes that Rhodes created on the Mac as
part of her doctoral thesis at Australia’s University of Wollongong near Sydney.

Presented in QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) Cubic, the scenes let travelers
wander icy Arctic wastes, gently-rolling hills reminiscent of English moors,
volcanic islands, deserts and a dozen other fantasy landscapes — all to the
sounds of winds soughing through the grass, ethnic music, excerpts by composers
such as Ralph Vaughan Williams and her own compositions.

and there's a sample of the game

“Films are stories you watch,” says Clint Bajakian, “and music underscores
them — but you could tell the stories very well without music.

“Video games are activities you play,” continues Bajakian. “When the player
gets his senses and faculties engaged in achieving an objective — in the
hot-and-heavy moments of actual button-mashing and getting tense — the story
recedes to the background. He may even forget it while he figures out, How do I
climb this wall?”

That’s why, Bajakian says, music is so important. “When the story goes to
the background, the music stays there and does the job of transmitting emotional
impulses to the player. It defines the mood. Music has the primary role of
communicating emotion in a game. Often it’s the driving force. It’s almost
impossible to think of it as an underscore.”

Games Sound Great

As a composer and sound designer for popular video games such as the
recently-released “Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb,” Bajakian has thought plenty
about music’s role in the fast-evolving game industry. Video games have
blasted out from the shadow of film, their erstwhile big brother, and composers now
have a slew of advanced tools with which to craft game environments as rich
to the ear as they are to the eye.

“In the entertainment industry,” says Bajakian, “what drives development is
profit. So as games get more popular, people are paying more attention to
soundtracks, and the budgets for authoring game music have reached revolutionary

Competition with film plays a role in giving composers more license.
“Hollywood set the original expectation for live orchestras,” Bajakian explains. “Ben
Hur was scored for live orchestra because there was no alternative. Now, game
industry executives want to be as cool as the big film guys by using live
music. It’s a stamp of arrival, and another way to distinguish their titles. And
it’s fortunate for composers like me, because we get to do higher quality

Technology has kept up, ensuring that the composer’s artistic decisions are
faithfully transmitted to the gamer. “Game audio used to be significantly lower
quality than film or TV,” says Bajakian. “But no more. We’ve left TV in the
dust. Now we’re right up there with film industry standards. The new game
platforms have high-resolution audio — better than CD quality — and automatic
mixing of dialog, music and effects to Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.”


With musical excerpts you can play if you want.


<<The apple site has two REALLY interesting articles today on news in music and art in video games. Sandra>>

Thanks, they were really cool!

My eldest son (11) really enjoys video games and art and music are important components for him. He really notices the artistic details of the games - a couple weeks ago he pointed out to me how beautiful the water surface was in the new Crystal Chronicles game. He surfs the internet finding his fave screenshots and fan art, changing the wallpaper on the computer desktop often. He has a sketchbook in which he has some beautiful sketches of characters and that he adds to as they strike his fancy.

As for music, he has his favourite music from various games and levels/battles, and he has been known to plug in audio from one game, and choosing his fave track/level for background music while plugging in video and playing another game. He'll regularly call me over to listen to his fave music and discuss it, explaining to me how the music matches the mood of the level or how it changes subtly as say, the battle progresses.

Even when he's not playing he'll often pick game music to have on in the background, either through his console or through various websites with game tracks that you can play.

He's replaying Golden Sun 1 & 2 right now and I recognized the music instantly! It's almost like a comfy glove even for me. I've been humming it for a couple days now. :-)

Pam L

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