Now this is one of those where I’m not certain if I’m the only one who does this… but does anyone else need music to play certain games? And I’m not taking about sticking the radio on or whacking the Top 40 on either.. I’m talking themed music. Background noise to set an atmosphere. Something to lure you into believing you really are a part of the game and emphasise the tone of the game. Set the scene even. It could just be because music is such a massive part of my life; I need to be listening to something, anything, to be able to function to a decent ability. Even at work I’ve got something on in the background! But that’s besides the point, hear me out..
I’m not mad, for the most part, but I find it very difficult to play Betrayal at House on the Hill and throw myself fully into it without some dark, eerie and mysterious music going off in the background. The feeling of having some low tones, dark sounding piano and with eerie sounds throughout really set the mood for me. My go to is the album Blackthorn Asylum by Nox Arcana; it’s not my everyday listening but it fits the mood and pace of Betrayal beautifully. Of course there are those times when the Haunt is a bit more silly and the music completely misses the tone, at which point I’d usually stick Monster Mash on or something of the sort, still slightly linked but hitting a different mood. It also works for games like Argo and Endangered Orphans (although creepy toy box music is far more appropriate).
The other game I’ve always got a spookier track on for is Sub Terra. The idea of being stuck in a cave, lost with limited time and being hunted by unknown horrors is quite an atmosphere to try and set through music, but I honestly think it can be done. More often than not it’ll be a YouTube track, my go to is the top hit when searching Dark Ambience Cave Sounds. After a while of playing and arguing it does help set the scene a bit better and you begin to care that you’ve gone rogue and left your team but are now stuck. Even games like Pandemic or King of a Tokyo can be elevated and feel more epic with a superhero soundtrack blasting in the background. It’s actually pretty cool to roll the dice, get 6 attack results and have the song reach an awesome breakdown.
The only games I’ve not managed to meet a suitable criteria for are those that are more… Rustic… Medieval even. Carcassonne for example. Unless it’s old school lutes or renaissance tunes it feels forced, and that’s one of those you feel bad putting on. It may enhance your experience, but everyone else around the table is grinding their teeth listening. On top of that, the only time I don’t want music is on is when it actually is a distraction, thematic or not. I could not play 2 Rooms and a Boom or Werewolf with something in the background, it would pull away from the highly social element of it all. Even Cosmic Encounter is a no go, the music would just pull away from the discussions at hand.
Do you game to music? Or does it distract from the point at hand?