Nerdcore and Beyond: How Video Games Invaded Music

This world of crossover between musicians and tracks and gaming has resulted in a group of people fitting into a part of the electro-hip hop subculture known as “nerdcore”
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Gaming can sometimes be viewed through a rather narrow lens that puts the focus primarily on the gameplay of a particular game, rather than on the myriad other elements that combine to create a commercial success in this crowded sector. One of these elements is background music, an often overlooked yet essential component of all sorts of games and a niche that has actually had a hugely significant impact on artists and music development across the globe.

Indeed, over time, we have written articles about how music can enhance an online gaming experience, and we’ve also commented on how Robert DeLong was inspired to go from being a gamer to a musician, proving that the crossover between both worlds has been deservedly well-documented. This world of crossover between musicians and tracks and gaming has resulted in a group of people fitting into a part of the electro-hip hop subculture known as “nerdcore”.

MC Frontalot and the World of Nerdcore

When you talk to those who have been inspired by the world of video games to produce music, the person whose name often crops up as the inspiration is MC Frontalot. Indeed, the world of nerdcore has even made itself known on Jeopardy, when a contestant admitted to being a fan of the music genre that has such a cult following.

Some of those who talk about the world of nerdcore compare it to the outcast element of rock music: punk. It is perhaps more appropriate to consider it as closer the world of goth music, as it is populated by a smaller group of fans who are extraordinarily passionate about what they believe in, with artists like MC Chris looking to see their hits make the Billboard Comedy charts.

Indeed, while nerdcore is not exclusively focused on video gaming, it does seem that the main focus has been on gaming. Take the album Nerdrap Entertainment System as an example. This was comprised largely of samples from 8-bit Nintendo games, in a similar but less experimental style to Atari Teenage Riot's Nintendo Teenage Robots project. This shows that while you need to opt in to the world of nerdcore to be considered a part of it, and that the topics of choice just need to be considered “geeky”, it is video gaming that is at the heart of much of the inspiration for the genre.

While MC Frontalot may not have such a well-known name and brand, the fact is that his connection and link to this world of music, as well as the spread and continued interest in it, shows that not only do gamers find themselves inspired by music as we have previously reported on, but that the world of music has indeed been impacted upon by gaming, and not just through theme songs from the likes of Mario, or tracks like the Hell March from Command & Conquer Red Alert.

A Full Circle?

When it comes to the world of entertainment, it is often said that trends can be cyclical and that things often return to where they started. In this regard, it is no shock that the world of nerdcore has now seen people like MC Lars end up starring in their own nerdcore-themed games themselves, joining the ranks of music-inspired video games right there with titles like 2008's Audiosurf. Indeed, even in the world of online casino games, it is possible to play a slot game, DJ Wild, that is inspired by electronic music, showing that the world of gaming has now started to come full circle, with the impact of gaming music fully returning, in a creative manner, to its roots.

It might seem like this is simply a continuation of a concept that had huge success when the world of Guitar Hero, famously spoofed by South Park at the peak of the game’s popularity, was in fashion (this game highlighted the connection between music and gaming to such an extent by proving gaming could be used as the way of enjoying music). Despite this, the original series of Guitar Hero was discontinued in 2011 and when it returned as Guitar Hero Live, the sales that were generated were simply not at a level hoped for, showing that instead of music simply becoming a part of gaming, the relationship between the two forms of entertainment is far more complex.

Where Next?

In the past, we've seen titles like Donkey Konga, Space Channel 5 and even PaRappa The Rapper show that gaming and music are a world linked together, and the fact that artists like Mega Run and MC Lars have managed to turn their love of gaming into a (niche) form of expression shows that the link between artists, gaming and the world of music has a long, long history.

With the world of eSports starting to take off heavily in Asia, where it is going to feature in the 2022 Asian Games as a medal event, there is a chance that the popularity of this new part of the gaming world might help to encourage more music fans to head into the world of nerdcore, seeing this genre of music go from being an alternative genre to one of the most popular taking some of the leading artists to the heights achieved by some of those who inspired the world of nerdcore, like the Beastie Boys.

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