There are a multitude of video game theme covers on the internet, and all sorts of songs have a line or two referencing gaming, but few songs are really about gaming, particularly songs reflecting it in a positive light. Certainly, there are all sorts of songs about boys ignoring girls during a gaming session. There aren’t nearly as many about the experience itself.
I made some rules for this list:
1. It must be positive. it can’t mock gaming or paint it in a negative light.
2. It must be completely original. It can’t be a parody of another song or a cover of a game theme.
3. The entire song has to be about gaming. It can’t just contain a passing reference. Chiptunes alone aren’t enough, either. These are songs about gaming, not from a genre possibly influenced by gaming.
4. No Pac-Man Fever. Seriously, not even as a joke.
Regarding the second rule: One song on the list comes close to breaking this rule. It features original lyrics and combines several themes from the game into a single short song. It’s also really fucking good, so I let it slide.
5. Do You Wanna Date My Avatar, by Felicia Day and Jed Whedon
Felicia Day is something of a nerd goddess. She combined her experience in film and television to create The Guild, a web series about an online game clan. This song was written to promote the show, and is the first music video in a series featuring characters from the show, in this case presented as their in-game counterparts. The song unabashedly references game lingo and celebrates getting lost in an epic fantasy.
The next song/video in the series, Game On, is also a lot of fun.
4. Mario Kart Love Song, by Sam Hart
This sweet little number equates a relationship to the trials presented in various versions of Super Mario Kart. Sappy, sure, but heartfelt. This is the first of two songs in this list to reference Toads and their relationship to Princess Peach.
Oh yeah, and it was recently covered by Jimmy Fallon and Selena Gomez, so there’s that.
3. Tonight, by Allie Goertz
Aha! A small departure from controllers and pixels to dice and paper, Tonight is as much about hanging out as it about enjoying the game. Dungeons and Dragons is the proto-video game, and it’s nice to know people still play. I could never find anyone to play D&D with, so I’ve always had to live vicariously through others. Allie’s music if a font of pop culture references, and her YouTube channel also features other songs about D&D.
2. Thank You Mario But Our Princess is in Another Castle, by the Mountain Goats and Kaki King
The second song presented from the point of view of a Toad, Thank You Mario But Our Princess is in Another Castle is a wistful song about Mario’s first journey through the Mushroom Kingdom. And it’s by The Mountain Goats! They’re a pretty famous band! And it features Kaki King, who isn’t as famous but is certainly no slouch herself! I think this description could use another extra exclamation point!
(Unfortunately, I don’t know of an official video for this song, so I chose the one that had the most views.)
1. Reignite, by Malukah
This is the song that kind of breaks the second rule. However, it captures the spirit of Commander Shephard’s character and quest so well that I am putting it on the list anyway. At number one, even! The dire circumstances of Mass Effect 3 are translated perfectly into song, as is Shepard’s unyielding spirit. Her choice of the word reignite as a parallel to the Phoenix is incredibly apt.
Malukah has a bunch of songs about video games, including quite a few about Skyrim. I chose this one because it so perfectly captures the mood of the character.
Bonus: Human Video Game, by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
It’s a little goofy, and moves into a bit about games being addicting, but it is way less pandering than Pac-Man Fever.
Making this list was tougher than I thought it would be, but I’m sure I missed some great ones. Keeping my rules in mind, what have I missed? Tell me in the comments!