Teaching Music Through Gamification

Australia has a growing games industry. In 2021, the gaming sector contributed $226.5million in revenue. These numbers will grow more in future, due to federal and state-based tax incentives.

Digital games development will be a crucial pillar of a modern, digital, and creative Australia. Developing digital games involves every type of media – animation, sound, music, and cinematography. Besides the direct economic benefit, games production adds complexity, talent, and a range of transferable skills to the economy.

There are many technology-based games which can be used in the music classroom to engage students in learning about, and making, music. These games can help build community, engage all students, and provide a fun change of pace from everyday learning. The games make learning more fun and can be used to teach very young children, who cannot read well yet. These games can be used in the classroom, or at home for personal entertainment and learning, and are applicable to students at different levels of musical education and ability.   Some games can also be used for informal assessment without the stress of a traditional test or quiz. 

Here are Some Examples of Tech Music Games

Quiz Games

There are many sites where you can use existing games or create your own quiz-style games for students.  They all have advantages and disadvantages and are based primarily on multiple choice questions. One example of a quiz-game is Kahoot.

Kahoot is a quiz-show style game. Students must answer questions and compete to earn points. Kahoot consists of pre-made quizzes about music. You can also make your own Kahoot by using their existing question bank or by creating your own questions. For school, Kahoot’s education version, is recommended. 

Another music game, Nearpod Time to Climb is a good option, since you can integrate your own slides, virtual field trips and other content. On Time to Climb you can use images as the answer options for a question. This is an excellent option for teaching note identification.

Besides quiz games, there are many other interactive tech games available for teaching music.

Music Tech Teacher Games

The Music Tech Teacher site consists of a variety of games and quizzes, including listening challenges (students match what they hear to the notation).

Students love the Rhythm Randomizer!  This site is great for individualized rhythm reading practice for students who are working on different skills than others in their class.

MusicPlay is appropriate for younger students. It includes games like matching high and low sounds to instruments and it covers all the musical basics. Even young children who can’t read well yet, can benefit from this game. It can be used by individuals or a whole class. 

Inside the Orchestra is an interactive instrument identification online bingo game. There are multiple levels (students can either see the instrument which is being played or not). The sound examples are high-quality, so it is a very good teaching tool. 

Classics for Kids incorporates many music games on their site. The games are about instruments, composers, rhythm, and notes on the staff.

Video Game Music

Video game music has developed into something very creative when years of musical and storytelling tradition were integrated with computer technology.

Video games music has progressed from beeps and wipe-out sounds to complex musical scores that you find in everything from triple A titles to the games at Treasure Mile casino.

Video game music often follows in the tradition of the classical composition of film soundtracks, opera and ballet. Songs and melodies are written for, or attached to, certain characters, places, or themes. This is called the leitmotif  (a recurring musical theme appearing usually in operas but also in symphonic poems. It is used to reinforce the dramatic action, to provide psychological insight into the characters, and to recall or suggest to the listener extramusical ideas relevant to the dramatic event) in opera, ballet, or film scores. So, now, in video games, the heroes and villains also get their own songs.

In video games, the music does not just accompany images and narratives, it reacts to the action too. This is because players perform actions in the game, they are not passive viewers. They press buttons, move characters and constantly make decisions. In turn, video games respond by acting on the player – the game displays their choices, providing rewards and taking them away. The music complements and exists as part of this interactive system.

Video game music has become integral to players’ lives. Music keeps gamers immerged in the more complex moves (research shows they can listen to music for 10 hours straight) while games create new and bigger audiences and creative inspiration for musicians and songwriters. A YouTube search for cover versions of the music from Nintendo’s Zelda franchise yielded more than six million results. The top videos featured guitars, a Capella singing, marimbas, and a musical performance on wine glasses.

Video game music has become one of our most popular contemporary cultural forms. The music creates a bridge between history and tradition on the one side, and cutting-edge technology on the other. Video game composers today create music heard and loved by millions of gamers. These composers make use of sound and visual interactivity, indeterminacy, and music dramatic narrative.

Popular performers are also making their music available to games. Aerosmith’s version of Guitar Hero earned the band more money than any of their albums, touring or merchandise made them, selling 600,000 (or $25 million) in the first week alone.

Steve Aoki said that streams for his track ‘Azukita’ increased by 2.3 million in the first two weeks it was in a game. He, Jennifer Lopez, and Imagine Dragons all have stakes in esports leagues. Drake, who is an avid game player, and his music manager Scooter Braun, invested in blue-chip esports team 100 Thieves.

League of Legends developer Riot Games has seven permanent in-house composers, and commissioned Zedd and The Glitch Mob to compose anthems for its tournaments.

Tech game music has become such a “thing” that the University of Melbourne presents a course called The Art of Game Music. This form of art is definitely here to stay!