My Favourite Video Game Featuring: Duncan Evans

My Favourite Video Game is a guest feature from bands and artists where we set them a simple task… tell us about your favourite video game. In this feature creator of dark folk / post-punk melancholy music, Duncan Evans took up the mantle and you can read all about his choices below.

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When I was asked to write a column about my favourite video game my initial instinct was to turn down the offer, the reason being very simple: I haven’t been a regular player of games on computers, consoles or any other devices for at least fifteen years.

When I began to cast my mind right back, though, I started to dredge up distant memories of enjoying console games — Street Fighter II on the Super Nintendo during my childhood years, and then Super Mario Brothers on an original Nintendo system bought several decades after its advent. I also remembered that I had been something of a PC computer enthusiast for a time, before music really took hold of my life. I used to enjoy strategy games like Command & Conquer, point-and-click adventures like The Curse of Monkey Island, and, perhaps best of all, “first-person shooters” like id software’s Quake.

The best fun to be had with Quake was in multi-player mode. Before everyone was getting involved in multi-player games online, my friends and I would bring our computers around to each other’s houses, link them via ludicrously long ethernet cables that would trail down stairs and through kitchens, and have a blast (literally) honing our skills at violently and repeatedly slaying each other’s pixelated avatars. You could even type outrageously insulting messages at the other player after you’d pulverised them. Of course, they would regenerate immediately and the whole thing would begin again.

Whether competing against others or playing through the game’s levels alone, I would be consumed by the strange and terrifying atmosphere of Quake’s dilapidatedly futuristic world. The tension when waiting for the next trap or enemy could be almost unbearably intense, and the adrenaline rush of finally being face-to-face with whatever demonic creature would appear was electrifying. One of the contributing factors to this state of heightened sensitivity was Quake’s music soundtrack. Brooding, dark and tense, it modulated between ambient synth washes, grinding noise, filmic orchestral passages and industrial metal. The names didn’t mean much to me at the time, but that music was created by a certain Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The “NIN” logo was even used on the boxes of nail gun ammo that you could pick up during gameplay.

At this time in my life I had been playing guitar for a little while and was getting more and more serious about music. I had moved on from Britpop to blues and classic rock, but I had yet to get into heavy music (in the metal sense) or electronica. Accordingly, at that time I wouldn’t have ordinarily listened to something like Nine Inch Nails or industrial music. I don’t think I even knew the term “industrial”. However, I found myself to be intrigued by the Quake soundtrack, “weird” as I probably thought it was. You could even listen to it on a CD player using the game’s install disc, which I remember doing once or twice. I don’t think it instantly chimed with me as music to enjoy outside of the game itself, but it must have had some sort of impact on my musical development. Within a few years of all this I had begun to immerse myself in a much wider range of musical styles, and at some point I bought NIN’s With Teeth, and then subsequently picked up everything else they had done. By that time the days of two-player Quake probably already felt like a distant memory, but I was aware that the game had given me my first exposure to Reznor’s music, and now it all seemed to make a bit more sense. Maybe some of the experimental, electronic and noise influences that continue to feed into my solo music and my work with Moonlow and WaxWorm could even ultimately be traced back to the influence of Quake?

In the years since the game’s release, the Quake soundtrack had all but disappeared, having only been pressed as audio on those original PC install CDs. In 2020, however, the whole thing was finally released on vinyl, with the original track titles revealed for the first time. That familiar “Q” graces the cover of the record. I might even get myself a copy. I’d like to hear that soundtrack all the way through again, in the hope not only that the music might seem less “weird” now, but also that I might be nostalgically transported back to those halcyon days of friendly digital carnage in that wonderfully ghastly world that John Romero and co once created.




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Author

  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!