Gaming is just better with background music. Regardless of styles, versions,or generation gaps we can all at least agree on that. When gaming, what do you listen to? More importantly, how do you listen? Personally, I like streaming radio.
Streaming radio is all over the web these days, with the two top spots probably going to Pandora radio and last.fm. Personally, I like last.fm because it works with my Xbox. If you happen to have Kinect (I do), you can voice command last.fm to skip tracks or stop altogether. In game, this makes all the difference. The only drawback is you have to wave at the Kinect every now and then, to let it know you’re there.
Whether you’re using Pandora or last.fm, the trick to streaming radio is scrobbling. Scrobbling is simply telling your radio station whether you love or hate any given track. They use this information to build a perfect radio station, so you can use it to build a perfect adventure.
Here’s where it gets fun. Each radio station will have you start by entering an artist or genre you want to listen to. Try everything. Typing in “Arabian” will give you some great desert adventuring music. Likewise, typing in “water” get’s you a nice ambient beat. Once again, scrobble! If you love or hate a song, they need to know!
If you really like a song, take note of the artist and try a radio station with just their name in it. As you do this, you’ll start to notice some familiar music popping into your playlist. Keep taking notes, listening, and narrowing it down to three choices.
Now that you have a few artists perfectly suited to your adventure, make a Multi-Artist radio station. You can enter up to three artists at last.fm, not sure about Pandora. Here’s my personal favorite gaming station:
- Num Num
- Keef Baker
Keep in mind my scrobbling will have made it different from what you may hear.
In the Shadowfell, we’ve been gaming to Sunn O))) (also great to spook trick-or-treaters!).
Perfect for when you’re at home, but what about on the road? This is where Pandora takes the lead. Both sites have a mobile app, but you have to pay for last.fm. Pandora is free. While a phone doesn’t produce the best sound possible, it’s still better than nothing. Music really adds a lot to public play, it seems to negate the public feel by creating ambient noise cancellation.
If you have a specific song in mind for an encounter, you’ll have to find some other means to play it. You could pause the station, play your song, then resume easy enough, but now you’re defeating the whole purpose.
Streaming radio takes the work out of background music. We DM’s have enough on our plate as it is. Worrying about the music too can be frustrating. I’ve even given the players control of scrobbling before, now we all have a station we can agree on.
So again. I ask you not, what do you listen to, but how?