5 Game Genres with Audiovisual Emphasis: Music Video Games

Although the signification of the relationship between sound and image is relevant in all games, especially for generating spatial simulation, there is a genre, the so-called music video games, that shifts this relation into the foreground. One of the first incarnations of this genre is the game Otocky (ASCII Corporation 1987) developed by the Japanese multimedia artist Toshio Iwai. Otocky is a side-scrolling shooter, where the players generate sounds by shooting adversary objects.

A new sound is generated with each shot, and some of the objects shot can change the pitch or key. The resultant tones are automatically quantized, meaning that the rhythm is adapted to the beat so that harmonious melodies result from playing.

Since then, a multitude of very different music video games, which explore the relationship between image, sound, and player interaction in the most diverse aspects, have been developed,. Music video games can be categorized in the two partially overlapping categories of rhythm action games and electronic instrument games.[8] In the first case, players largely follow the rhythm set by the game, whereas in the latter, the game can be seen as a veritable instrument for generating independent musical expressions, so that there is a greater degree of freedom. In addition to these two forms, there is a multitude of appropriative works and interactive installations by artists, who take up and alter aspects of the computer game. As Toshio Iwai’s practice shows, for example, the boundaries between these forms often cannot be unambiguously distinguished. Several projects started as commercial products in the game industry, whereas others are produced as multimedia installations within the framework of art exhibitions.


Keywords:Entgrenzung, rhythm
Timelines:ab 1980
Workdescriptions from this text


Works: Otocky

People: Toshio Iwai

Socialbodies: ASCII Corporation