Game Music Theory References


It is my goal to provide a list of references of published game music theory literature to provide a starting point for research into this field.  The resources here are focused on the examination of video game music from a music theory perspective, there for the list will be skewed towards references with a strong analytical basis.  Please contact me if you would like to share a reference on this page.

Last Updated: September 10, 2011.

Books and articles providing a foundation for theoretical discussion of video game music.

Brame, Jason. "Examining Non-Linear Forms: Techniques for the Analysis of Scores Found in Video Games," Master's Thesis, Texas Tech University (2009).
Examining the use of game music mapping techniques and analysis of entire game scores.  Provides basic terminology for discussing music in an entire video game.

Collins, Karen. Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design. Cambridge: MIT Press (2008).
Provides the foundation for game music and game sound discussion, including a history of sound development in games as well as a look at how music functions in games.


Brame, Jason. "Thematic Unity Across a Video Game Series." ACT zeitschrift fur musik and performance (2011/2). Available at
Games Referenced: The Legend of Zelda, The Adventures of Link, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess.

Capacchione, Tristan. 2007. "Musical Gamescapes: A Study of Unity in Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura." Self Published, 2007. Available at
Games Referenced: Arcanum: OF Steamworks and Magick Obscura.

Collins, Karen. "Flat Twos and the Musical Aesthetic of the Atari VCS." Popular Musicology Online, 2006. Available at
Games Referenced: Halloween; Base Attack; Clown Down Town; Tapeworm; Desert Falcon; Entombed; Burger Time; Qbert; Up N Down.

Collins, Karen. "Loops and Bloops: Music On The Commodore 64." Soundscapes: Journal of Media Culture, 2006. Available at
Games Referenced: Ghosts 'n Goblins; Acid Drop (Atari); Jet Set Willy 2 (C64); Lazy Jones (C64); Mayhem in Monsterland.

Collins, Karen. "In the Loop: Confinements and Creativity in 8-Bit Video Game Music." Twentieth Century Music (2007/4.2), 2007. Available at

Reale, Steven B., "Chaos in the Cosmos: The Play of Contradictions in the Music of Katamari Damacy," ACT zeitschrift fur music and performance (2011/2). Available at
Games Referenced: Katamari Damacy.

Stockburger, Axel. "The Game Environment from an Auditive Perspective." Self Published, 2005. Available at

Whalen, Zach. "Play Along - An Approach to Videogame Music." Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research (4/1), 2004. Available at
Games Referenced: Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Silent Hill.


Collins, Karen. "From Bits to hits: Video Game Music Changes its Tune." Film International, 2004.

Collins, Karen. "Grand Theft Audio?: Popular Music and Interactive Games." Music and the Moving Image (1/1), 2008. Available at

Collins, Karen. "An Introduction to the Participatory and Non-Linear Aspects of Video Game Audio." Essays on Sound and Vision (eds. Stan Hawkins and John Richardson): Helsinki: Helsinki University Press, 2007. Available at

Collins, Karen. "Video Games Killed the Cinema Star." Music, Sound and the Moving Image (1/1), 2007.

DeCastro, Daniel. "Quality Video Game Music Scores, Considering the Standards Set, and Personal Reflections" Master's thesis (NYU), 2007.

Leonard, Sean. "Scores of Glory, Fantasy and Plumbing: The Concise History and Principal Genres of Video Game Music." Self Published, 2001. Available at>.