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25-10-2018 | Issue 4/2018 Open Access

The Computer Games Journal 4/2018

Beneath a Steel Sky: A Musical Characterisation of Class Structure

The Computer Games Journal > Issue 4/2018
Andra Ivănescu
Important notes
All editorial decisions for this article, including selection of reviewers and the final decision, were made by guest editor Dr. Kenny McAlpline.


This article proposes Revolution Software’s Beneath a Steel Sky (1994) as a starting point for the analysis of the relationship between music and social class in video games. While other issues of representation have been studied extensively within game studies (gender representation in particular), the representation of class remains an underexplored area. Furthermore, the relationship between video game music and socio-cultural aspects of video game studies is also rarely examined beyond issues of race, ethnicity, and cultural appropriation. This article draws connections between these two underexplored areas and analyses the musical characterisation of class in the 1994 cyberpunk adventure game, which takes places largely in a literally stratified metropolis where the three levels of the city act as representations of the three social classes. Here, music plays an important role in terms of environmental storytelling, both as semiotic shorthand, and as a reflection of the affordances available to the inhabitants of the city.
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