Does music while gaming affect player performance?

Music is a gift from the gods to mortals, and can be profoundly life-changing in many situations. Let’s see how listening to music affects gamers’ performance.

Music is one of the oldest forms of art and entertainment known to humankind. It is known as the universal language and is “spoken” in almost every human society in existence. Humans first began to bask in the glow of music over 40,000 years ago. Tutankhamun’s trumpets date back around 3340 years, lithophones from India and Vietnam (early xylophones or pianos) date back between 4000 and 10,000 years, and the Isturitz flutes (made from vulture wing bones) date back 20,000 to 35,000 years. These days, music is in everything we see, and it plays in many places that we go; on the radio in the mall, in our favorite TV shows, and in the games we love to play. Music has become an integral part of the development of any new video game; it helps to create just the right ambiance and draws a scene together in a way nothing else can.

If you were thinking about which poker game types to enjoy, you’d probably choose one with enticing background music over one that plays distracting songs or boring golden oldies, right? Sometimes, music makes a noticeable difference that we can pick out right away; imagine any Mario Bros game without the classic intro song! But other times, music is used almost behind the scenes to help add that extra scare factor or bring you to tears at just the right moment. The melody in any game, TV show, or movie scene affects us far more than we know and is a formidable tool in the right hands. Let’s check out how music affects a gamer’s performance.

The Evolution of Music in Video Games

Back in the good old days, as they say, music was far from the star of the show when it came to developing a winning video game. Most early games have 8-bit or Chiptune jingles as their only soundtrack; tinkling electronica that’s designed to keep you upbeat and excited even if you lose a few lives. Who could forget the ‘plink…plink” of the early tennis games or the crash sounds that came from Space Invaders? Some of those sound effects were truly terrible but iconic nonetheless.

We can credit Rockstar Games and titles from greats like Tony Hawk for the way music is used in gaming today. In an effort to connect more with players through music and draw them further into the game world, these trailblazers began to collaborate with well-known artists and labels to include some of the hottest songs of the day in their titles. Collaborations like this have brought instant recognition to indie titles and offered new artists a chance to make a name for themselves in the music biz.

Does Music Influence Your Gaming Skills?

The answer to that question is both yes and no. Which of those two answers you get will depend on the gamer, the melody, and the game. Imagine, if you will, a game with absolutely no music. Wouldn’t you be a little bit less interested and less inclined to play for long stretches to meet your goals? We would! Sound effects are an essential part of any game, of course, but the background tune brings you to a deeper level of the game world and immerses you in its fantasy.

If you are a very inexperienced gamer playing a new game for the first time, it’s likely that loud, fast-paced music may be a little overwhelming for you. Attempting to play and concentrate when the music is playing loudly might damage your overall performance. If you’re a very experienced player, the music is unlikely to make any kind of difference to your skills in-game unless it’s a song you just can’t stand. You’ll be so focused on the awful music playing that you might miss an ambush up ahead! Likewise, if you’re a huge fan of a band or song prominently featured in a game you’re playing, it may be a challenge to keep your mind on the game.

It’s up to you, the gamer, to decide what music works for you and what doesn’t. While very few games offer the option to turn the music off and leave sound effects on, you may have to sacrifice a little ambiance from time to time if you want to get through the game in one piece. The lucky gamers who are able to concentrate on a great song and fast-paced game at the same time really have it the easiest.

Wrap Up

Gaming really wouldn’t be the same without your favorite track playing in the background. Do you listen to music while you play?

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: