Essay on The History of Video Game Music

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The History of Video Game Music

In America, video game music is seen as one of the lowest forms of entertainment and its composers are obscure and unknown to most of those who play the games, while in Japan, it is a major component of their popular culture, and composers such as Koji
Kondo are treated like famed celebrities. Game music is still not widely considered an art form, and yet the compositions have become as complex and sophisticated as arrangements for film and television.

In 1958, engineer William Higginbotham at the National Laboratory made the very first video game called Tennis for Two. In 1963, MIT student Steve Russell programmed the game Spacewar. In 1972, Magnavox released the very first home
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In 1981, ATARI released their “Pokey chip,” which was a dedicated audio processor. Included in the 5200 home console2, "the Pokey chip used four separate channels which controlled the pitch, volume, and distortion values of each, allowing a four-piece virtual band to perform for the first time." In 1983 the advent of MIDI
(Musical Instrument Digital Interface) allowed for composers to use up to 128 different timbres with 16 separate tracks, all without taking up precious memory space. Composer
Bobby Prince of the Id software company employed midi files in the popular Commander
Keen series. (Episodes four through six) The only problem with MIDI is that the quality of the music varies with different sound cards. 2

In 1985, Nintendo released their first console, the Nintendo Entertainment
System. (NES). Although manufacturing was discontinued in 1995, Nintendo experienced enormous popularity; 50 million consoles and 350 million games were sold. 2 Nintendo was talented at offering difficult challenges for one’s hand-eye coordination, providing quality soundtracks, fast game play, and a fun and exciting plotline that makes you want to play the game again and again. 2 An example of such music is Battletoads. It’s all about some toads that like to get into fights, and there are two levels in the game in which they jump onto

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