Understanding Game Scoring: Software Programming, Aleatoric Composition and Mimetic Music Technology


Abstract / About the project


“Game scoring,” that is, the act of composing music for and through gaming, is distinct from other types of scoring. To begin with, unlike other scoring activities, game scoring depends on — in fact, it arguably is — software programming. The game scorer’s choices are thus first-and-foremost limited by available gaming technology, and the “programmability” of their musical ideas given that technology, at any given historical moment. Moreover, game scores are unique in that they must allow for an unprecedented level of musical flexibility, given the high degree of user interactivity the video game medium enables and encourages. As such, game scoring necessarily constitutes an at least partially aleatoric compositional activity, the final score being determined as much through gameplay as traditional composition. This dissertation demonstrates how game scoring is software programming that is structured by gaming technology, and that constitutes a unique kind of aleatoric composition, through case studies of the Nintendo Entertainment System sound hardware configuration, and game scores, including the canonic score for Super Mario Bros. (1985).

This article is the Doctoral dissertation at the University of Western Ontario