A Musical Journey: Music as Gameplay, Meaning and Narrative in Digital Games

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för musikvetenskap

Abstract: This essay presents a detailed analysis of the music and its relations to gameplay, meaning and narrative in the interactive digital game Journey. Taking as its foundation multiple thorough playthroughs of the game, observation and questioning of test subjects has been conducted for greater perspective and objectivity. Combining theories from hermeneutic musicology, narrative ludology and aesthetic theory, it provides a new perspective on music in digital games. Intended as a musicologically inclined complement to the existing studies of digital game music, it applies Jean-Jacques Nattiez’s musical semiology and Nicholas Cook’s model for analysing musical multimedia to digital games. As a development of the visually-inclined studies of digital game theory and ludology, it expounds upon the works of Graeme Kirkpatrick and Henry Jenkins to take into account sound and music. With a focus on play, meaning and narrative, it is argued that music is integral to players’ experience. It is also suggested that this type of study is highly determined by its subject matter, and that a different approach of analysis might be needed for another game. Further research to corroborate the finds is suggested, as well as a general widening of the fields of game music studies and narrative musicology.

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