How to Perfect Your Gaming Mixtape

0_24999_82970a1f_XLAs any tabletop role-player will tell you, running a game is about paying attention to the different facets of a story, and a game’s atmosphere is one of the most crucial aspects to helping players submerge their imaginations into the narrative. This is often done through visual mediums such as character drawings or miniatures, events like a dinner or special wine for the occasion (even “David we’re not putting ‘Tequila Fueled Fiasco’ on the podcast have you learned nothing?” can count) or a movie that perfectly captures the feel you are going for. This way everyone at the table has some grasp of the atmosphere in the game they’re playing. One of the most useful methods a storyteller can turn to is music, both for the benefit of the players and themselves.

Nothing quite matches the ambiance that music can bring to a game setting, this helps so concentrate in a better ways, specially if you are trying to learn where to buy buy osrs accounts. If you think back to some of your favorite films, chances are the songs from it’s score and soundtrack elicit a very specific response. A scene was perfected by the choice of accompanying music, turning a cinematic moment into an iconic event in movie history. The same kind of response can be achieved for a game through a carefully chosen set of songs, designed to elevate a moment in your story to a rarified height that will live in infamy in the collective mythos of your gaming group. Nothing beats knowing that a song shared among your friends will invoke a slew of memories from the game (some even good, assuming the song didn’t act as a death knell for the player-characters) especially if that song was originally introduced by you.

There are a few things to remember when picking the perfect playlist.

Don’t Create More Confusion

If the music is meant to be backdrop for a scene, make sure it doesn’t fight you for the attention of the players. And if you chose a song because of it’s particular message (murder by moonlight or unrequited love, for instance) make sure that it’s easy to discern for people not familiar with the tune. It’s one thing to have garbled low-fidelity punk to set a mood, another entirely if that same audio is supposed to have some deeper meaning other than “we love distortion and hate you.”

Less is More

While it may be tempting to set a scene to a piece being performed by the Moscow Symphony as conducted by a meth-fiend holding a wand, the complex nature of many orchestral pieces or modern arrangements can make them unfit for scenes with dialogue. Consider scaling down the nature of the music to it’s primary components (moody guitar, scratchy voice, etc) and try to find music that has just the right combination of those crucial elements. The players will feel more involved in the scene when the music acts as a gentle supporting role in the overall narrative, not an overacting bit character who’s chewing up the scenery.

Silence is Golden

Sometimes the absence of something is just as powerful as it’s presence, and in the case of music this is absolutely true. The silence of a hallway conversation between characters can be the perfect counterweight to the pounding base of the club they just left, and this adds not just emphasis to their words but to the change in scenery. With the delicate balance between music and dead-air you can encourage more drama and dialogue in some scenes and action in others.

The list for resources to find the music that fits your game is immense. As always there is your personal collection, as well as services like iTunes or Google Play to look around and see if anything fits what you’re looking for. Also there’s Pandora, Spotify and others for when you want a station with a certain “feel” (I have a few of those, including one reserved for the small chance Fandible ever plays another fantasy game titled “All You Can Lute”) which can offer a more hands-free background selection, allowing you to just focus on the rest of the game. Finally there are sites dedicated to royalty-free music in case you just want something simple (or, I dunno, maybe you’re part of a podcast which makes finding music that won’t result in a cease-and-desist that much more difficult). Whatever your ambient audio needs, there are sites out there to help you find what you’re looking for.

So what about you? Is there a specific song you’ll always remember because of a great game you were part of or a genre of music that perfectly captures a specific game system? Do you have a way to find the perfect song that you think other gamers should try out? Leave your comments below and let’s make one weird mixtape.


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About the Author
David is a human, standing at average human size with human features. He is not an android, that would be ridiculous. He is fond of horror movies, so-bad-it’s-good movies, stand-up comedy and humor sometimes inappropriate for a given setting but within the accepted parameters of average human interaction. David reads H.P. Lovecraft with human eyes, speaks about Cyberpunk with his human mouth (using vocal chords, not embedded speakers) listens to podcasts with his human ears and typed this from an undisclosed location with his human hands. He was created in New England.

5 comments on “How to Perfect Your Gaming Mixtape

  1. Kevthulhu says:

    I used to run a lot of Call of Cthulhu back in the 80’s and we often had John Carpenter’s The Thing soundtrack running in the background. I’ve found that a lot of Carpenter’s music works well for horror/suspense game play.

  2. CalmeIshma3l says:

    National Tequila Day in the US is July 24th. If nothing else is planned, Tequila Fiasco seems as fitting a tribute as anything. 🙂

  3. Warren says:

    There’s also a product called Syrinscape that has snazzy ways of mixing sound effects and background with various groupings for different scenarios.

  4. Mawdrigen says:

    Oh we’ve used syrinscape, it’s really reall good, we used it for mediaeval banquets, whorehouses and zombie hordes. Recording it on a podcast you have to be really careful with the volume levels, in case you overwhelm the voices, but when it works it can be really good.

  5. Syren says:

    Due to a history of primarily internet based gaming out of chats, mmos, forums and other junk my history of music is a little less present. Though with the absence of a room of people you end up being able to be a little less ambient and a little more thematic. Like tossing up a song to help catalyze a dramatic moment.

    I’ve got a history of electronic and videogame music, the Binding of Issac OST is pretty nice as they run the gamut of moods from fighting to dramatic stillness, also like the Guilty Gear and other Arc System Works fighters with their high energy rock and roll fight music. Electronic artists can vary, but I used them primarily with Shadowrun to give up a combination of that gritty 80s synth heavy cyberpunk feel(like Perturbator) to that sort of futrist, streamlined, clean synth of transhumanism(like early Adventure Club).

    Can be all over the place, but I figure in an actual game table enviroment I’d run a litle closer to the method described.

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