Music is important to me. I listen to a lot of music. My tastes are broad, and at times, seemingly random. But for all of my love of music, unlike many gamers, I don’t much care for it during game. I find it too distracting, and depending on the GM’s choices, dissonant. Frequently GMs make very common choices. I can count on both hands the number of times a GM has cued up the Conan theme for the big fight, and about as many times that someone has used the Indiana Jones theme in a pulps game.
If you turn up the music loud enough for everyone to hear it, it’s going to be too loud and distracting. If you stop the game to make everyone listen to your song, you’re breaking immersion AND slowing the game down. And, if you pick the wrong music, it just pulls me out of the game. As an example, I was once in a Call of Cthulhu game where the GM decided that since it was a 20’s game, that Jazz would set the mood. Unfortunately, he went to the only jazz piece he knew… Dave Brubeck’s Take Five.
Now, that happens to be one of my favorite jazz pieces, however, it is very recognizable and wasn’t released until 1959. Yeah, that doesn’t work…
Okay, so I don’t much like music at the game table. I have not yet experimented with, or been in a game, that used ambient sound and sound effects. That might work, though as a GM I suspect that needing to manage a soundboard during game would be a bit much. If you’ve seen it used to good effect, I want to hear about it.
All of this doesn’t mean I don’t make use of music connected to gaming. What I tend to use it for is inspiration while planning and prepping my games. I have a large playlist of what I consider appropriate music for the Starfinder game I wish to run. That playlist is heavy with SF movie soundtracks, John Carpenter and 80’s retro electronica, as wel as some ambient and post rock.
My current thinking is that after game, I will post a playlist of the music that I was mainlining before the session. And if I manage to turn some people on to some new music, even better.
I’ll probably come back to this subject again after I get my game running.