Articles from the Boston Compass, Arts & Culture

March Compass: Zach’s Facts // When NIN scored a video game


In 1996, Trent Reznor, aka Nine Inch Nails, became the first star powered musician to compose a score for a video game, that game being the sinister first person shooter, Quake, by id Software. While there are rumors of Michael Jackson’s involvement in the creation of the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 soundtrack (I highly recommend recommend reading Ken Horowitz research on the subject at the blog sega-16), famous musicians, for the most part, have not composed original scores for video games. However asking Reznor proved fruitful and his soundtrack was the perfect accompaniment for game’s twisted Lovecraftian plot. The story is set somewhere in the future. The government, while experimenting with teleportation technology, opens a portal to another dimension that is unfortunately set on eradicating humanity. The protagonist, Ranger, voiced by Reznor himself, must blast, bomb and gore his way through the hellscape to save the human race from oblivion. Reznor is quoted as saying the soundtrack, “is not music, it’s textures and ambiences and whirling machine noises and stuff. We tried to make the most sinister, depressive, scary, frightening kind of thing…” In addition to the score and voice work, Trent also created the sound design, and in the game you’ll notice that the Nine Inch Nails logo adornes the side of ammo boxes. The interest in the soundtrack has stayed throughout the years and a re-release of it is allegedly in the works.

With the size and continued growth of the video game industry I am surprised that rock stars making video game soundtracks hasn’t been a more common thing. Let’s hope this happens more in the future because I want to hear Death Grips ripping over the next Street Fighter.


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