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Conductors with controllers: OSU's unique music class

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Video Games Gaming

MUSI 3593 is a great opportunity for students to become more knowledgeable about video game music, as well as learn new and exciting ideas that helped spark some of the most notable video game tracks. 

Classes are coming back soon. For some, that may be an exciting opportunity to learn about brand new concepts. For others, it is a roadblock in their schedule blocking time for having fun. 

Whichever side people may land on, Oklahoma State has plenty of courses to choose from.

One of the most unique courses that students can take at OSU is MUSI 3593, Video Game Music. Video Game Music, as the name of the course suggests, is a class all about video game music and sound design. The class is taught by Igor Karača, and the origin of the class started by a desire to get more college students to critically think about music.

“A video game soundtrack is a unique art form—an auditory experience that engages people through musical immersion,” Karača said. “We thought that having a Video Game Music class would be a great way to engage college students regardless of their major, and get them listening, analyzing, and thinking about music.”

The course is still relatively new, as Karača began teaching it during the spring 2022 semester. Despite being one of the shorter tenured courses on campus, students enjoyed the material.

“I personally enjoyed the course and found the assignments fun and entertaining,” a student said. “The textbook could be applied to our work and helped me learn a lot about music and information about game creators.”

Video games have so many different sounds to make them function coherently. Whether it be the old school sound of Mario jumping down a pipe in Super Mario Bros, the sound of footsteps used in shooters like Call of Duty or the grandiose soundtrack booming while slaying enemies in action games like God of War, there are many moving parts that go into creating a video game. Luckily for students looking to take Video Game Music at Oklahoma State, Karača's class is laid out into specific key points. 

“Video game soundtracks have come a long way, from the bleeps and bloops of yesteryear, to the orchestral medleys and vaporwave beats of today,” Karača said. “When we talk about how effective a game is at what it's trying to do, music often plays a key role.”

 “The epic chorus chants in Skyrim pump you up to fight a dragon, the lonely piano medley in Breath of the Wild helps sell the quiet isolation of Hyrule, and the folksy instrumentals of The Witcher 3 make you feel at home on the continent. One of the key concepts of the class is this: with the rapid advancements in technology accompanying video games, soundtracks have changed dramatically and have become an important part of the storytelling process.”

Video games can be a fun time with friends or a large quest for an individual, but with the music stripped away from the player, it can leave a hollow experience. 

“Music is a powerful tool that can control emotion and can establish the tone of the story being told,” Karača said. “Within film, many fans look at the soundtrack as a foundation to set the scene. This is no different in the video game industry. The nature of video games allows an even more immersive experience than film. You are controlling the actions of a character rather than watching it happen. So, for a video game developer it is vital that you have a soundtrack that can create an atmosphere to really captivate the player.”

Whether a student is  needing another course credit or just interested in learning more about video game music, MUSI 3593 is a class that does all. Video Game Music is a unique course that exposes a plethora of other special class experiences at Oklahoma State.  

“As video games have become more and more mainstream, the soundtracks have gotten bigger and a lot more impressive,” Karača said. “This trend can only continue in the coming years, which is a good sign for both the video game industry and the music industry in general. If you want to know more about this topic, take our course: Video Game Music, MUSI 3593.”