From Parsifal to the PlayStation: Wagner and Video Game Music
Richard Wagner looms large in the history, practice, and criticism of ﬁlm music, a spectral presence evident in the frequency with which his name is invoked in scholarly and casual literature on the subject. The history of Wagnerian discussion of ﬁlm music is extensive, controversial, and varied;1
however, little attention has been paid to Wagner and video game music. This chapter considers how Wagnerian musical thought, and its surrounding discourse, can be used as a way of understanding aspects of video game music. I am not concerned speciﬁcally with the representation of opera in video games here; instead, I wish to use Wagner and Wagnerism as an investigative framework for exploring game music.2 I will address three main intersections between Wagner and game music: (1) games that are Wagnerian in musical content; (2) games that are Wagnerian in the way that the scores deploy musical material; and (3) games that show afﬁnity with Wagnerism in other aspects of musical aesthetics. In each of these topics, attention will not only be on the particular “case study” game texts under discussion, but how the analysis of such games might inform the understanding of game music more generally.