Wednesday 12 January 2011

Music (not) to play MMOs by.

If one were to believe my brief survey of fan-made videos posted to YouTube, the Venn diagram of music most often associated with MMOs is a bizarre subset consisting of Death Metal and J-pop; two categories which, if mixed together, would probably produce a soundtrack akin to something normally heard on some of the more imaginative of hentai films.

“Grunt grunt urrrrgh urrrgghh urrrghhh yarrrrrrrrrrrr YARR hurrrrk-n-hurrrrk rarrr”

“Aiii Aiii Aii! Naiii aii aii! Aii! Naii! Aii! Naii! AiieeeEEaiieeee!”

I tend not to listen to other music when playing MMOs, preferring to let the music specifically created for the game massage my immersion, but I will sometimes pop on a favourite appropriate podcast if I know I’m heading in for a bit of a grind session, listening to A Casual Stroll to Mordor‘s excellent easy-going show when I’m slogging my way through a deed or ‘epic’ book content in Lord of the Rings Online, for example.

I do sometimes forget to turn Spotify off however, the music possibly being ambient enough not to register with me for a while, and so I find myself playing away at an MMO only to eventually have something strange and jarring pop onto the random play-list and yank me out of the Immersion Zone – sounds a bit like something from the Outer Limits: “You are now entering… the Immersion Zone! Welcome to a strange reality, where time has no meaning and money mysteriously disappears from your bank account on a monthly basis”.

Last night this happened to me, and it was Christopher Cross’s Ride Like the Wind that struck, right while I was in the middle of a scenario in Warhammer Online; nothing like the soothing nasal crooning of Mr Cross to accompany me having my head caved in by an angry Warrior Priest. I left it running, in part because I didn’t have time to Alt-Tab out and stop the thing, but also because I was perversely enjoying the soothing soft-rock sound jarringly contrasted against the blood-thirsty battles being enacted on my screen. As the scenario continued to drag on, with Order’s long and drawn out victory through attrition crawling its way to an inevitable conclusion, the lyrics began to change in my mind, with “And I’ve got such a long way to go, To make it to the border of Mexico” becoming “And I’ve got such a long way to go, To make it to the end of this scenario”. It actually quite calmed my fraying nerves as I desperately tried to keep my random scenario group healed, a task very much akin to chasing any number of cats around a large house in order to give them all their worming tablets.

I thought back as to whether I’d had any other such moments, and the only one I could recall as striking me as a touch bizarre and having pulled me out of the game momentarily was a case of the Flash Gordon theme tune blasting out of my headphones while I was in the middle of improving my Guardian’s tailoring skill in Lord of the Rings Online. I can’t remember what I was making, gloves or hats or thongs I imagine, or something equally likely to be sold to the vendor at half the price of the materials that she sold me to make it in the first place; either way, there’s nothing like that initial thumping drum crescendo followed by “FLASH! AH! AHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” to get you really excited about darning socks, and at that moment in time those were possibly the most epic foot warmers I had ever knitted.

I’m half tempted to turn game music off in my MMOs now and see what wonders the random play-list can produce, a little bit of Skunk Anansie’s Weak while wandering the leafy paths of Rivendell in LotRO, perhaps? Barbra Streisand’s Woman in Love during a keep siege in Warhammer Online, maybe. Or Monty Python’s rendition of The Liberty Bell during the cutscene at the Battle of the Wrath Gate in WoW. The possibilities are as endless as they are curious.

But now this post is drawing to a close, so I’m off to make a cup of tea.



“AH! AHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

“He’s ma-king a cup of tea!”


Oh stop that.

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