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I've been thinking about whether music helps or distracts from achieving "flow" in games. Do they enhance the flow experience or distract from it?

Examples of games which seem to achieve great flow without music (or with ambient/percussion-only music) are Angry Birds, Temple Run and Doodle Jump.

But then again, there are examples of games that use music but seem to also achieve flow themselves, such as Tiny wings.

Has someone researched this?

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What is "flow" in this case? –  Anko Mar 15 '12 at 16:15
    
I'm guessing it's the psychology kind: wikipedia –  Byte56 Mar 15 '12 at 16:52
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Music helps to emphasize the pacing of the game. It can really help you stay/get in flow if you time the fade-ins/outs right and choose the right music for the right moment. –  Roy T. Mar 15 '12 at 19:43

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's essentially just a balancing act and can go either way. It's not really affecting any 'flow' as you say, but more the feel/ambiance of a game. Say you are working on a game and currently it has no background music. If there is a long span between any sort of action when you are just running around, you would probably want to add something to fill that space because it might feel a bit boring just listening to your footsteps. If you are making some sort of action game, it could help with suspense to add in some heavy drum hit changes when something happens.

You could think of game music just like they do with movies. There are times when the music fits, and times when it doesn't.

For games such as Angry Birds and Doodle Jump, there is really no need to add music as it could feel a little distracting while you are concentrating.

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