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Brains On: How is video game music interactive?

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Space Invaders
10-year-old Melisa Correia plays a Space Invaders video game at the Science Museum on October 20, 2006 in London.
Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images 2006

Video game music has come a long way from the days of Space Invaders. As the technology evolved, so did the music.

It changed from being a simple melody that looped to being something a little more interactive.

How did this happen? It's all about logic. The game had to make decisions about where certain music was going to play.

For example:

• IF Mario eats a mushroom, THEN play this music.

• IF Mario jumps on Yoshi, THEN add percussion. 

• IF Mario jumps off Yoshi, THEN remove percussion.

So it's this logic in the software that makes the music interactive. To find out more about how logic works in today's games, listen to the audio to hear an explanation from Brains On! host Molly Bloom, kid co-host Henry Goldman, and special guest Emily Reese from Top Score.

• More from Brains On: How does video game music affect you?

• Subscribe to Brains On, a science podcast for kids and curious adults