What Games Can Teach You About Music

Games and music have always been intricately intertwined.  Red Brick highlights how music completes the video game experience through sound symbolism as well as movement. It would be difficult to separate the ominous setting of Dark Souls from its soundtrack. Or to experience the speed of Super Mario Odyssey without the melody that follows in the background. 


The 8-bit era of games is a rabbit hole worthy of exploring.  These original game sounds were some of the first to be synthesized using computer chips as opposed to samples of audio recordings imported into the game.  These sounds have become iconic and have weaved their way through pop culture for decades.  With nostalgia for 8-Bit era aesthetics and sounds at an all-time high, we are seeing musicians draw inspiration from these vintage games and sounds in new and innovative ways.


The genres of vaporware, beat music, 8-Bit, and hyper pop each draws from video game aesthetics and sounds (Watch our recent HYPER POP Masterclass).  Some artists have even chosen to erect entire digital worlds that coincide with their game-inspired sounds. Emerging artist Yameii mimics the feel of early 2000’s video games while using the distorted bass lines that define the Hyper Pop genre. Digital characters are being created in parallel to their musical identities, a trend we are sure to see more of in the era of NFTs and the creation of digital worlds.


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Viral TikTok Song – Yameii – Baby My Phone

While games and music have grown hand in hand as aesthetics and tastes continue to evolve and recycle, using games to learn music has also become more accessible.

We are eager to share a few of our favorite games for music resources with you in the examples below:

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Music Theory

Thanks to interactive coding software like Appy Pie and open-source markets like Google Play, developing games has never been more accessible. For example, have you ever heard of NinGenius? It’s a mobile game created by music professionals that allows new learners to practice music theory. It teaches rhythm, fingerings, enharmonics, and more. Each completed level is awarded a colored star to encourage users to aim for the highest accuracy and speed.


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NinGenius Music Theory Training App- Music Ed Minute- E09

Researchers from Columbia University even conducted a study in 2019 that proved that learners who integrate games into their music education tend to pick up skills more quickly.

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Rhythm Sense

Alongside the soundtracks for games, many titles have also replicated the musical experience. The Rock Band and Guitar Hero series were not only arcade games, they also taught players coordination and sight-reading skills that replicated the feel of actually playing an instrument.  Geometry Dash is another example which relies on sound timing to help the player know when to avoid obstacles. The yet to be released 2.2 version has drawn quite the cult following.

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Geometry Dash 2.2

Geometry Dash 2.2 is set to come out December 2021.


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One of our favorite programs to build skills in both music theory and rhythm is Melodics.  This app interfaces directly into your drum pad, keyboard, or launchpad (including Ableton Push), where it takes you through beginner to advanced lessons on your given instrument. This is one of our favorite ways to learn finger drumming.  You still have to practice, but using a gamified interface keeps you engaged longer, makes it easier to build a consistent practice, and allows you to track your progress as you move to the levels. What’s more – Beat Lab students can also unlock up to 30% off with the Melodics paid version.

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Melodics for IPad 


There are also traditional rhythm games like Osu and Beat Saber where you’re asked to press the indicated buttons in time with the incoming arrows.  We love playing these games with our MIDI FIGHTER 64 which is built using the same buttons used in Japanese arcade games.  The world’s favorite MIDI FIGHTER user Shawn Wasabi has a collection of original music all done on the MIDI FIGHTER 64.

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Shawn Wasabi – Burnt Rice 


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Games can help you develop musicality, whether it’s through gamified courses or exposure to rhythm, style, and cohesive narrative as experienced in most present-day games. Music has a historic relationship with games, and games might just be the future of music. As such, when you’re looking to learn new techniques or get some inspiration, it helps to play a game. Or – you can try what our head of education Sidebrain did in this video by hacking game controllers to turn them into MIDI controllers!

If you want to learn how to make music, either inspired by games (like Hyper Pop), or for games (like sound design) – be sure to check out our courses below.


If you’d like to learn more about music production, check out out the recording of our HYPER POP Masterclass with Side Brain.

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