“Video game genres and their music” – an Evalutaion

About the Thesis:

“Video game genres and their music”
by Pieter Jacobus Crathorne
supervised by Prof. Winfried Lüdemann
submitted at University of Stellenbosch
in the Department of Music
in March 2010

I chose this specific thesis as this was the main inspiration for my bachelor’s thesis, and because I have been a fan of computer games and been fascinated by their music for over fifteen years.


Although this thesis was written in the general field of art & design, it is not styled in an outstanding or revolutionary way. I can imagine the University of Stellenbosch has predefined templates for Microsoft Word that each student utilizes for their project, to adhere to a general style the university pursues. This has the benefit of having a consistent style along all published theses but dispossesses students of their own branding.


For todays standards this theme is not innovative anymore as game studios nowadays often hire renowned composers and orchestras for their music. However, before 2007-2010 (the thesis was published in 2010, but was started in 2007 or earlier) computer game companies were just beginning to do so. And as Pieter Crathorne himself wrote, earlier games just had programmers develop the music and not musicians compose the music. Of course, other resources already existed on music in computer games, but nothing had been going into as much detail as Crathorne did. And the main chapter, comparing games in genres and the genres themselves, had not been touched before at all.


As this thesis does not have a project associated with it, it only consists of literary work. Thus, the author had to work on the thesis independently. Also, writing about the games’ music implicates having knowledge about the game, hence he independently played all of them as well.

Outline and Structure:

Pieter Crathorne developed a thought-through and understandable structure. While first giving a very basic overview of the theme and purpose of the study, he then starts with topics about music in general and steadily dives deeper into the computer game theme. Along the way, before the main analysis the author explains every bit of information, he will look at including differences between sound and music as well as defining genres as these often can be up to the listener’s (or in case of games the player’s) interpretation. The main section, analyzing all the games and their music, is divided into genres and sub-categorized into games, with comparisons in-between genres and with other genres in the “discussion” section. The conclusions are then summed up in the final chapter. The only issue I have with this thesis’ structure is the number of main chapters, which I believe could be reduced by combining some of the introductory chapters. Other than that, I was very pleased with the structure, so much so that I completely copied it and applied it to my own bachelor’s thesis.

Degree of Communication

Because Pieter Crathorne wrote a long and thorough introduction, I believe also people who are not directly from this scene understand most of his work. A background in gaming is not required at all, but I believe at least a little bit of knowledge about music might clarify parts of the thesis.

Scope of the Work

The thesis has 55 pages of actual content (= excluding front page, abstract, table of contents, bibliography and appendix). As there are no pictures in this thesis, I would categorize it as upper medium-sized. Because of the great explanations in the first few chapters, a shorter version would not have been possible and actually not been useful at all, as cutting content would just confuse the reader.

Orthography and Accuracy

In my opinion, Pieter Crathorne did a very good job keeping the thesis understandable and accurate. I did not notice any syntactic errors while reading through it (though I am not an expert, especially on commas) and all sentences were semantically coherent.


As this thesis is mostly about music in games, a big part of the literature is made up of video games. Crathorne cited 28 games in this thesis. That being said, there are 46 papers and articles listed in the bibliography, many of which come directly or indirectly from the game developers & publishers themselves. I do not know which citation style has been used, but all the citations follow the same style and include access dates wherever online media was used.


Direct Link:

Downloaded from the Stellenbosch University Library

Self Publishing Musician & Label Owner. I do everything myself including video editing, motion graphics, full stack web dev, etc. And I'm a Sound Design student as well.