Music in the Role-Playing Game: Heroes & Harmonies offers the first scholarly approach focusing on music in the broad class of video games known as role-playing games, or RPGs. Known for their narrative sophistication and long playtimes, RPGs have long been celebrated by players for the quality of their cinematic musical scores, which have taken on a life of their own, drawing large audiences to live orchestral performances.

The chapters in this volume address the role of music in popular RPGs such as Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft, delving into how music interacts with the gaming environment to shape players’ perceptions and engagement. The contributors apply a range of methodologies to the study of music in this genre, exploring topics such as genre conventions around music, differences between music in Japanese and Western role-playing games, cultural representation, nostalgia, and how music can shape deeply personal game experiences.

Music in the Role-Playing Game expands the growing field of studies of music in video games, detailing the considerable role that music plays in this modern storytelling medium, and breaking new ground in considering the role of genre. Combining deep analysis with accessible personal accounts of authors’ experiences as players, it will be of interest to students and scholars of music, gaming, and media studies.

chapter |6 pages


The Journey Begins
ByWilliam Gibbons, Steven Reale

part I|47 pages

Magical Melodies

chapter 2|14 pages

“The Things I Do for Lust …”

Humor and Subversion in The Bard’s Tale
ByKaren M. Cook

chapter 3|19 pages

Mother/EarthBound Zero and the Power of the Naïve Aesthetic

No Crying Until the Ending
ByTim Summers

part II|74 pages

Mystical Metaphors

chapter 4|19 pages

Alien Waves

Sonic Reverberations of the RPG Interface in Lagrange Point
ByKevin R. Burke

chapter 5|21 pages

The Penultimate Fantasy

Nobuo Uematsu’s Score for Cleopatra no Ma Takara
ByDana Plank

chapter 6|20 pages

Music in the Time of Video Games

Spelunking Final Fantasy IV
ByJulianne Grasso

chapter 7|12 pages

Operatic Conventions and Expectations in Final Fantasy VI

ByRyan Thompson

part III|87 pages

Meaningful Memories

chapter 8|15 pages

Ludomusical Dissonance in Diablo III

ByMichiel Kamp

chapter 9|13 pages

A Hidden Harmony

Music Theory Pedagogy and Role-Playing Games
ByMeghan Naxer

chapter 10|20 pages

Soundwalking and the Aurality of Stardew Valley

An Ethnography of Listening to and Interacting with Environmental Game Audio
ByKate Galloway

chapter 11|18 pages

Musical Landscapes in Skyrim

ByMichiel Kamp, Mark Sweeney

chapter 12|22 pages

Barriers to Listening in World of Warcraft

BySteven Reale