What Is Multiplayer Music Making?

Technology today is constantly under development and tech start-ups, as well as industry giants, are constantly breaking new ground.

At WeJam, we’ve heard along the grapevine that there have been talks of integrating the communal feel of multiplayer games and music creation. The concept of Multiplayer Music Making is simply incredible when you consider how it can help artists create awesome, authentic music and replicate that feeling of live collaboration all through a fun app or software.  

For most areas in the world, fast internet speed is attainable which makes collaborating with people online a whole lot easier. With social distancing restrictions still in place around the U.K. and other areas of the world, Multiplayer Music Making might just be the solution we’ve been waiting for to give our music making juices a refill all in real-time.


The Origins of Multiplayer

Before we properly explore Multiplayer Music Making and how it’s changing how we see music collaboration, let’s take a look at the history of the term multiplayer

These days almost every new video game that is released has an online multiplayer mode, which can accommodate anywhere between 3-50 real players playing together from all over the world. 

This is a massive leap in technology from 1972’s Pong. Pong was basically a game of virtual table tennis. Or Ping Pong. A small white ball bounces across the screen and two paddles on either side of a white line bounce the ball back and forth, scoring a point whenever the ball hits past their opponent and connects with the opposition's wall. Fun Fact: Believe it or not, Pong is not referred to as a multiplayer music making game, and up until the early 1990s, video games were either limited to two players on the same console or were single player.  


What Makes a Game “Multiplayer”? 

An article from BYTE Magazine (1980) details a few qualifications for what defines a multiplayer game: 

  • ‘More than one human player is involved in the game’ – The term multiplayer wouldn’t mean much if you played it all alone
  • ‘The players’ judicious use of incomplete information’ – There’s a sense of enjoyment in not knowing what your opponent’s next move is, as you can’t screen watch someone who is playing in a different country to you.  
  • ‘The game is played in real time’ – With the development of faster internet speeds, load times for online games have drastically improved which improves the player experience.
     

While the types of multiplayer games have changed drastically over the last few decades, these definitions still apply today. But what can multiplayer do for music games? Is there a fanbase for multiplayer music making games? 


Music/Rhythm Games 

Now that we’re clued up on what multiplayer is, let’s take a look at Music/Rhythm games and how far multiplayer music making has come. 

Hopefully, most people reading this have played or at least heard of the video game series Guitar Hero. A video game series which, with a physical guitar, you could strum coloured buttons on the neck of your guitar in time to colourful blocks on your TV screen which represented notes in real songs that had you jamming like you were Jimmy Hendrix. As you progressed through the game, you were rewarded with unlockable features in the shape of new characters, guitar skins and songs.

The “story” in the Guitar Hero game has the player climbing the ranks of rock stardom, travelling from gig to gig, and raising a fanbase until they are a God-tier rocker. For its multiplayer mode, two players would clash against each other, performing the same song, at the same time and the player with the highest score of correct notes played wins. The developers of the series sure know how to have some multiplayer music making fun while making this mode. 

With the advent of virtual reality, rhythm games have shot up in popularity among fans and on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. These types of games have players hitting colourful objects, representing notes in a song, flying towards them in their VR headset. 

These VR games and the Guitar Hero games share a commonality that with the more correct blocks you hit, the higher your score by the end of the game. This score can then be shared and attempted to be beaten by other players which adds a new level of competitiveness. 

The thing is, while these types of games are undeniably enjoyable, they are more music games rather than music making activities. We just need a little more music making in our multiplayer music making. 


Multiplayer Music Apps

Even with the pandemic still affecting many parts of the world, artists are still creating music and music projects are still being collaborated on. As dismal as the lockdown may be, hopefully your sparks of inspiration are still flickering enough to create music on your own…or enough that you can collaborate with others through apps in real time. If multiplayer music making games don’t itch your fancy, then maybe this will. 

Trackd is a community and app that allows up and coming artists to produce high quality music, collaborate with artists from around the world and receive donations from fans all in one platform. Created by Trident Cloud in 2015, the tools inside of the app allow artists to find other artists from anywhere in the world and work with them to contribute an element of music they don’t have or the skills to do (guitar, drums, vocals, etc.).

Obviously if you really wanted to you could just crawl through any social media platform and shout into the wind looking for people to partner up with on some music. You might get a few responses, but wouldn’t you want to reach out to people using a platform that was specifically designed for bringing artists together? Of course you would. 

While Trackd is proving itself to be great for partnering artists up and facilitating donations, it fails to flawlessly bring together the elements of everything we’ve been talking about today. The fun and engaging aspects of rhythm games, real-time music creating and the experience of jamming out in a live band. Fortunately, WeJam can deliver on all those fronts as well as turning even the most amateur of players into the next big thing!


WeJam

In our immersive jam sessions, each member of your group takes control of their own interactive tablet that displays a combination of score notation and coloured note names for beginners. As you get over the learning curve of this unique experience, the difficulty can be increased so the tablet only shows the actual notes in the song. The best part about our sessions is that you bring along up to six people to one of our centres and plan an entire day out, away from those lockdown blues. With our strict COVID-19 policy, in line with government guidance, we ensure that there will be ample time between groups to allow our facilitators to perform a deep clean in the room to ensure everyone’s safety. 

While we wouldn’t categorise our sessions as multiplayer in the traditional sense we’ve been exploring, they do however require a group of people to play together and create some wonderful memories together! Be sure to book your spot now and plan the perfect getaway day out.