How Rock Music Influenced Video Games

by neonmusic

5th April, 2022

Rock music isn’t just something that people listen to anymore; it is a genre of music that has become part of nearly every medium of entertainment. From stage musicals like Bat out of Hell, which is based on the music of Meat Loaf, to films like Guardians of the Galaxy, which use rock songs to build an iconic soundtrack. Rock has become the soundtrack to our lives, no matter what media we’re consuming.

Video games have been eager to incorporate rock ‘n roll for generations, dating all the way back to Revolution X, an arcade shooting game that featured the music of Aerosmith in 1994. Since then, game series like Rock Band and Guitar Hero have allowed players to live out their rock fantasies and play their favourite tracks, while a more recent action game, Brütal Legend, built gameplay and plot around larger-than-life music and film star Jack Black. It also featured a host of cameos from legendary rock acts like Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead and metal icon Ozzy Osbourne. They’re by no means alone, and as music has always been a comfort to us, it delivers a quick shot of serotonin when we hear our favourite bands in the games we love.

The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, which allows players to guide their own skateboard legend-in-the-making through a series of increasingly ridiculous stunts and tricks, recently got a remaster and update to modern consoles, giving a whole new generation of fans the chance to discover some punk and rock classics from Rage against the Machine and The Ramones, showing that almost any genre can benefit from having a great rock soundtrack behind it. Titles such as Gods of Rock and Rock the Reel Megaways can be found among the online slots from Coral; they use popular rock imagery and tailor it to their genre of gaming. They’re not alone in repurposing music for another genre. Pinball Rocks HD does exactly the same. Whether online slots, pinball, or another genre, rock music is easily adaptable.

Rock music and video games are a partnership that is continuing to this day. The recently released game Tiny Tina’s Wonderland brought a more unusual side of rock ‘n roll to its final gameplay trailer when it featured Japanese metal-idol band BABYMETAL’s most famous hit, Gimme Chocolate (see below). Last year, Guardians of the Galaxy hit gaming consoles and brought a soundtrack that featured Blondie, Pat Benatar, and Def Leppard.

Music might have started out influencing video games, but there are plenty of instances of video games influencing music as well. Nerd-core rappers like MC Chris and MC Frontalot pepper their rhymes with references to their favourite games growing up, while even well-known acts like Eminem and Lana Del Rey have both included references to games like Portal in their songs. The relationship between music and video games appears to be cyclical at this point, with both influencing the other heavily.

 As gaming grows into one of the biggest entertainment industries in the world, reaching more than $314 billion by 2026 according to Yahoo Finance, there is no doubt that future music acts will try to get in on the action. Snoop Dogg is set to make an appearance in Call of Duty Vanguard, while Stormzy contributed a track for Watchdogs Legion back in 2020. Will we soon see punk acts like Green Day dropped into the Apex Legends arena? Or will we get an entire game around Limp Bizkit’s unexpected return to the spotlight? All we know is that rock music and video games look set to stay together for a long time coming.

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