Weekend Question: Do you ever play games with the sound or music off?

PCG Jody

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Dec 9, 2019
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I ask the PCG staff a regular Weekend Question and post the answers on the site. If you'd like to throw in an answer here, I'll squeeze the best into the finished article!

This week the question is: Do you ever play games with the sound or music off?

One of our team plays games muted on the weekends to avoid attracting the attention of his children and because "putting headset on wastes precious seconds". I turn the music off after I've heard it a couple times because I hate repetition. Dark Souls players swear it's easier to win boss fights with the music off, and James would like to mute at least one character in Genshin Impact. What about you?
 
Let me tell you a story: I am a huge fan of Borderlands 2 and obviously went on the hype train for Borderlands 3, even if it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth when you look at the recent Gearbox activities. I just HAD to play the game, no matter what. So, I started the game, got introduced to an adrenaline-pumping intro, and then the **** hit the fan.....

Fart jokes, annoying character screaming ALL THE BLOODY TIME!! and a story so bad I had to bang my head at the desk a couple of hundred times to understand the point of it. I swear, I went from hyped to shriveling in a matter of a bucket of ice-cold water. So, I turned the dialogue completely off and somehow managed to sell my soul to satan and slowly grind myself to the end. Thankfully that music was really good and the weapons felt and looked cool. It is the first game I have ever played where the dialogue has been so obnoxiously bad, that I had to mute it to keep a little of my sanity.
 
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When my kids were younger and the wife was outdoors, I played all of my games without sound during the evening. Maybe, just maybe, with one ear on the headphone. You just can not ignore a crying kid, or the wife will throw your PC out the backdoor :D
 
I never play without the sound, sometimes the in game music but it's rare. As mentioned previously in the thread, sound and music design are integral to the game. Great sound design can be such an important part of a game, from sound queues to immersion. Great music can lend so much to setting a scene or the atmosphere for a fight, or it can create a more soothing environment for those actionless moments. I find far too much value in the sound design to ever ignore it, unless it's just not implemented well, which isn't that often IMO.
 
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OsaX Nymloth

Community Contributor
Only few times played without sound at all - doing some achievement run in a horror game (forgot the title) makes the spookyness go away and makes the whole experience of "speedrunning to get my achievement" a bit hilarious. But other than that? No, not really, always have at least sound on.
Well there's one exception: Football Manager series, but hey, that doesn't count! Does it?

On the other hand, I tend to turn off music for some titles, mostly strategies where I have over 100h in and OST can be amazing, but at some point, I am done with it. So in Kohan series (I miss these games) I spent long hours commanding my armies to Summoning's music. I have spent countless hours in StarCraft II since 2012 and some mixture of death/trash metal always pumps my APM. Session with Civilization? Sure, just let me get my Foobar2000 up.
 

McStabStab

Community Contributor
Certain games I want to change the vibe with some different background music. As a teenager I would often listen to Deltron 3030, a hip-hop sci-fi themed album, while playing Starcraft. Lately I've been disabling the soundtracks and radio stations on BattleTech, GTAV, and No Man's Sky to replace them with some smooth synthwave tracks. However most games I like their default soundtracks so I vibe to those as well.
 
I usually bring the music down to 50 percent or less because it gets overbearing and annoyingly loud to me when i'm in the heat of battle. Some games, when a situation gets tense, the music gets so much louder and becomes distracting to the point where i wind up missing dialogue or key sound effects because i can't hear that stuff well over blaring "SHITS GETTING INTENSE" music lol. Sound effects tho. All the way up.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Some games have really good music but it's the kind you actually want to listen to, which works great the first two or three times they pop up. If they show up more than that, they start to get annoying to me and I have to turn them off. The Tropico games have this issue. More ambient background music that just sets the mood without distracting can go on forever and work fine, though.
 
Nov 9, 2020
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I know I'm late to this and all but, I will say my piece anyway.
I am one that gets easily distracted so I always turn the music off on every game I get as soon as I'm able to. Although I have kept it on for some but around 15%.
The only music I like in my games are where it makes sense to me, like by a musician or a radio.
 
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spvtnik1

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Jan 13, 2020
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Whoops I should really check for these more regularly.

Before GTA V, I'd say the last time I enjoyed a soundtrack in a game was one of the NFS games (NFS:U or NFS:MW). Most recently I enjoyed the soundtrack to Max Payne 3 while playing it.

I've mentioned in other posts how I treat music in my games. Usually, I go straight to turning the music off. Especially if it's any kind of strategic/tactical/shooty type of game. I need to hear those footsteps and warning beeps. Racing games too... some of the first games I ever remember playing my music collection with were the early NFS titles.

GTA, of course, has never needed any adjustments. Red Dead Redemption 2 enjoyed some listening of the score (starting to notice a theme?), but I eventually made a much more immersive soundtrack from the scores of other western-like films. I've done this for a variety of games, like Payday2, Mad Max, and AC: Black Flag. I try to stick with instrumental tracks. I feel like this allows me to heavily draw out how much time I spend with a game, because the soundtrack has been expanded considerably. It can also be a bit of a head trip when I hear some movie soundtracks again in their original context.

Now that I'm doing some recording, I'll lean towards leaving the soundtrack on. I've been playing and recordingThe Red Lantern. And although this game bills itself as a sort of interactive narrative, since I am recording I was compelled to turn off the voiceovers completely. Not just because I wanted to get a word in edgewise (the protaganist is speaking constantly), but also because a lot of dialogue gets repeated frequently.
 
Mar 22, 2021
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I always turn off in-game music in all my games. Along with motion blur & DOF the music is the first thing I turn off. I find music ruins gaming for me, I like hearing the environmental sounds.
 
Like a few of the posters I tend to listen to the music when I play the first or so times. After that it can be a distraction particularly in a complex "boss" type fight where you need to concentrate to make the right moves or correct bad ones. Always leave voice and sound effects on (a sneeze or footsteps may be critical ).
 
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it depends how long I I have played the game as to how I like its music... for the majority of games anyway.

Some games I have played too many hours in and even the best music gets to me after a while. then I just play with it off and hear all the other noises instead.

I have never become sick of the music in Journey though. I can't listen to it without wanting to play game, so I don't listen outside of game. Its not a long game but I have completed it probably about 300 times.
 
Most of the games I play, the music is ambient, and it's created to add effect to what you're supposed to be feeling in the game. So I leave the music on because I want to experience the game in the way they wanted me to feel it. I don't really play too many games that have annoying music just for the sake of having music. Doom games are kind of like that, as well as a lot of racing games.

My wife was playing Forza Horizon, and I think she set the music to classical, or something. It was so annoying watching her high-speed driving and crashing through stuff, listening to classical music. Haha.
 
Menu music such as Rainbow Six Siege drives me up all the way. Drum & Bass (Hospital Records Radio Station) in Forza Horizon is a must though, it just adds to the vibe.

In game music can sometimes add to ambience and general feeling of a setting but mostly I'll turn it off as I don't think I'd personally hear those sounds within the game area.
 
Sensible. I have games that I play without sound (Alpha Centauri, BG2 EE and so on) which I use when I need to be listening for other expected events. Otherwise I prefer to use headphones though I have a sound bar which gives decent reproduction. I know about the "She Who Must Be Obeyed" situation. [Rumpole of the Bailey for those non-Brits and youngsters].
 
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