Skip to main content

About this book

This book looks at the uses of popular music in the newly-redefined category of the nostalgia game, exploring the relationship between video games, popular music, nostalgia, and socio-cultural contexts. History, gender, race, and media all make significant appearances in this interdisciplinary work, as it explores what some of the most critically acclaimed games of the past two decades (including both AAA titles like Fallout and BioShock, and more cult releases like Gone Home and Evoland) tell us about our relationship to our past and our future. Appropriated music is the common thread throughout these chapters, engaging these broader discourses in heterogeneous ways. This volume offers new perspectives on how the intersection between popular music, nostalgia, and video games, can be examined, revealing much about our relationship to the past and our hopes for the future.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. The Ghosts of Popular Music Past and Video Games Future

In this chapter, the main ideas of the book are outlined, and its primary concepts are defined and explained. This chapter looks at nostalgia and its prominence in contemporary culture, with a focus on video game nostalgia and some of its incarnations, from retrogaming to the ‘nostalgia game’, one of the central concepts of the book, which is here defined and contextualised. The role of appropriated music in the context of video games, and nostalgia games in particular, is then examined, and identified as particularly significant.
Andra Ivănescu

Chapter 2. Games on Media: Beyond Remediation

This chapter draws on Bolter and Grusin’s concept of remediation in order to explore the reflective commentary that games provide on past media. It starts with the idea of ‘games on games’ and how video games relate to their own past, by looking at Evoland (2013) and Evoland 2: A Slight Case of Spacetime Continuum Disorder (2015) and the way in which they retell fragments of video game history. Then, the relationship between games, film, and film genre is explored by examining L.A. Noire (2012) and its film noir pedigree. Finally, through a look at Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002), its televisual and cinematic influences, its memorable soundtrack, and the game’s overall cultural impact, the issue of canon is explored.
Andra Ivănescu

Chapter 3. Games on Society: Playable Anxieties

The two games analysed here—Mafia III (2016) and Gone Home (2013)—provide a counterpoint to the general debates surrounding problematic representation in games, with soundtracks that provide connections to historical progressive movements. From the American culture of the 1960s to third- and fourth-wave feminism, the popular music in these games draws connections that invite their players to reflect on sociocultural issues. This chapter examines the representation of race, gender, and LGBT issues in these two games through their music, and how it relates to issues of intersectionality.
Andra Ivănescu

Chapter 4. Temporal Anomalies: Alternative Pasts and Alternative Futures

The two case studies presented here—BioShock Infinite (2013) and the Fallout series (predominantly the 2008-onward sequels)—reconfigure their images of the past through their science fiction narratives, but still tether their ideas musically to real-world historical periods. These games use significant amounts of appropriated popular music as part of their complex gameworlds, addressing players in powerful ways, and commenting on nostalgia itself.
Andra Ivănescu

Chapter 5. Memories of Mediated Pasts and Hopes for Mediated Futures

This final chapter draws conclusions based on the case studies examined throughout the book and argues that these interpretations of the past through the lens of popular culture are simultaneously grounded in contemporary thought and looking towards the future. A mini-case-study in the form of Cuphead (2017) demonstrates that paramusical connotations cannot be avoided, even when they are not explicitly employed, and the manifold meanings of appropriated music in nostalgia games come together in the conclusions of the book.
Andra Ivănescu


Additional information