July 10, 2013
Music For Cyberpunk Gaming
Gaming in a cyberpunk setting, Shadowrun for example, feels a lot easier to pick music for. As “punk” is already in the game, punk rock works really well. For Shadowrun specifically, a lot of industrial and dance music from the 80’s also fits, given its setting. Most of all, I find that various artists such as Daft Punk, Infected Mushroom, and even Rammstein are great fits, as well as anyone with a pension for electronica/techno. When talking about Shadowrun specifically, much of the music listed in my article regarding music in fantasy gaming works as well, as Shadowrun carries a lot of fantasy elements in it.
As for cyberpunk games in general, the most important thing to remember is an overall theme of oppression. Cyberpunk is often characterized by the oppression of society, of technology, of the corporations. Themes such as the fear of the loss of the self and of becoming more like a machine than a real person also abound, and you can find music that shares much of that. Fighting against the power, for example; Rage Against the Machine. Rebellion, another popular theme in cyberpunk, can be found in various rock and metal music (and others) such as Korn, Disturbed, and Limp Bizkit. Variety is an important thing to consider for a cyberpunk game as well, as often you will find yourself imagining various scenes for your characters/players to be a part of. Having different music in the background can add a unique feel to each of these, as there tends to be more variety of setting in cyberpunk than there is in, say, fantasy.
Now note, that while I mentioned a theme of “oppression” being something to keep in mind for a cyberpunk setting, do not confuse “oppressive” with “loud.” Some of the bands I mentioned (looking at you Disturbed) like to be loud, and there is nothing wrong with that on its own. I enjoy rocking out to Down with the Sickness as much as the next fan of the genre, but music at a game table is only meant to be used as background noise or as a set-piece, as discussed in earlier articles. When using rock and metal, in particular, this becomes more important to make note of, as when it is played it is often played very loudly, and that leads to distractions.
Player preferences are also something to consider. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of the previously mentioned Limp Bizkit, but I have friends and potentially even fellow gamers who are. Now, while I could simply tune out any of their songs played at a game table, the same might not be true for other players. Be flexible with your music choices, particularly with ones that are familiar with your circle of friends, which is why I personally don’t like to use Nightwish all that often. Some players might become annoyed with your music selections if they feel that you are just wanting to have your favorite music playing in the background, especially when/if it is music that they don’t care for. Honestly, this is why I find that more instrumental music works better, as there are often less strong opinions held about it.
More so than any other genre, save maybe modern day, cyberpunk offers some of the most diverse choices of setting appropriate music in my opinion.
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