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Music students make soundtracks for video games by

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    Posted: 03 Apr 2018 at 4:49am

The Super Mario Bros. jingle seems to have almost as many fans as the classic video game itself. The theme song has inspired innumerable covers on YouTube – some with millions of views – performed with instruments as varied as the marimba and four calculators.

Yet, while songs and effects are an important part of gameplay, few programmers can write music as well as they write code.

University of Toronto computer science students turned to their peers in the Faculty of Music for help making games that are as fun to listen to as they are to play. The games will be presented on April 4 at Level Up, an annual showcase for video games made by university and college students across Ontario.

See pictres from last year's Level Up Showcase

All too often, music and sound effects are afterthoughts in amateur video games, says Steve Engels, an associate professor of computer science, teaching stream, at U of T. “People leave it to the end and use whatever they find for free, and just tack it on,” he says. “But the music is part of the storytelling.”

He founded Level Up with OCAD University Associate Professor Emma Westecott. Over the years, U of T computer science students collaborated with OCAD U students, who produced art for the games.

In the pat, the students relied on royalty-free music they found on the internet, but this time U of T student-musicians have helped raise the games to a new level.

Felipe Téllez, a musical arts PhD student in composition, worked with his team on a game called Viewpoint in which, as the title suggests, the central game mechanic involves shifting perspectives. The player toggles between two and three dimensions to solve puzzles.

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