Dr. Dana Plank is a ludomusicologist, devoted to the study of video game music and sound. She has researched how game audio is used to represent disability, sensuality, gender, and exoticism, and she has been interviewed for books, podcasts, and MAGFest panels about games including Final Fantasy VI, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario RPG. Her current studies include Celeste; That Dragon, Cancer; and Untitled Goose Game. She is also a co-organizer of the North American Conference On Video Game Music 2020, scheduled to be held online this April 4–5.
In this interview, Dr. Plank and I explore the origin of ludomusicology, and what it is that ludomusicologists do; the academic route that led her to study ludomusicology and 8/16-bit games in particular; how technological constraints breed creativity, and how the interactivity of modern soundtracks distinguish them from cinematic scores; how silence can be a powerful indicator that something has gone wrong; how to use video games as a music-teaching tool; how COVID-19 has affected NACVGM; and what books she recommends in this academic field of study.
Stream the audio edition of this interview below or from Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Overcast, Pandora, Pocket Casts, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, RadioPublic, or the Internet Archive. Click past the jump for links to resources mentioned in this episode.
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Dr. Dana Plank
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps and its soundtrack
- How Q*bert got his swear
- North American Conference On Video Game Music
- Ludo2020 conference
- Mr. Holland’s Opus
- Recommended reading
- Dr. Plank’s previous interviews
- Related Polygamers
- Interviews with composers