Is the Music in Video Games Akin to Music Therapy?

Explore the intriguing connection between video game music and music therapy. Discover how game soundtracks can enhance emotional well-being and foster a state of flow, merging entertainment with therapeutic potential.

Is the Music in Video Games Akin to Music Therapy?
Woman wearing headphones playing a video game in a New York loft

In the immersive universe of video games, music often plays an understated yet pivotal role in crafting the player's experience. As we delve into various digital worlds, the soundtrack accompanying our journey can significantly affect our emotional state, cognitive functions, and overall well-being.

This brings us to an intriguing question: is the music in video games akin to music therapy?

Music therapy, a recognised therapeutic practice, utilises music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. It involves a broad range of activities, including listening to music, singing, and playing musical instruments, guided by a certified therapist.

The core principle of music therapy is its capacity to evoke responses that contribute to healing and emotional well-being.

In video games, music is not merely a background element but a meticulously designed aspect of the gameplay experience. Composers and sound designers craft scores that can elicit a wide range of emotions, from exhilaration during a battle sequence to calmness while exploring serene landscapes. The impact of this audio experience is profound, capable of inducing states akin to those sought in music therapy sessions.

The Flow State: Where Music Meets Mindfulness

One of the most fascinating aspects of the relationship between video game music and its therapeutic potential lies in the concept of 'flow'. Flow, a term coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes a state of complete immersion and focus in an activity, where time seems to fade away, and the individual experiences a profound sense of engagement and fulfilment.

Video game music is specifically composed to enhance this state of flow. Through dynamic soundtracks that adapt to the player's actions and the game's environment, the music can keep players engaged, reducing distractions and heightening focus. This immersive audio experience is not just about enjoyment; it can also promote a meditative state, helping players to relax and reduce anxiety.

The Therapeutic Potential of Video Game Music

While video game music may not be music therapy in the traditional sense, its effects on players can mirror the benefits of therapeutic practices. For instance, games with calming soundtracks can help players manage stress, while energetic music in action games can enhance alertness and cognitive performance.

Additionally, the emotional connections formed with game music can facilitate emotional processing and healing, similar to how music therapy sessions aim to help individuals explore and express their feelings.

Moreover, the communal aspect of gaming, combined with its music, can foster a sense of social connection and support. Multiplayer games, where players come together with a shared purpose, can offer a sense of belonging and community, further enhancing the therapeutic potential of the gaming experience.


While the comparison between video game music and music therapy should be approached with caution, the parallels between the two highlight an important consideration: the audio experience in video games has the potential to contribute positively to our mental and emotional well-being.

As we continue to explore the therapeutic potential of video game music, it's clear that this aspect of gaming deserves more attention and appreciation.

The journey through digital landscapes, accompanied by thoughtfully composed soundtracks, offers more than just entertainment; it offers a path to achieving a state of flow, where our worries fade and we find ourselves wholly absorbed in the moment.