As a gamer and a metalhead, I have always been fascinated by the strong relationship between these two seemingly unrelated mediums. Despite their different origins and aesthetics, gamers and heavy metal fans share a deep love for intense, immersive experiences and a passion for pushing boundaries.
To the outsider, it may seem surprising that gamers and heavy metal fans would share a common bond. After all, video games are typically associated with bright colours, catchy tunes, and upbeat soundtracks, while heavy metal is often associated with dark imagery, aggressive vocals, and shredding guitar solos. However, the connection between these two subcultures runs much deeper than surface-level aesthetics.
Among the many factors that link the two genres, the first and foremost connection lays in the love of an exciting and dynamic experience. Whereas pop music has consistent tempo and volume, metal embraces dynamism. Often quiet verses are punctuated with loud, distorted choruses and visa-versa. This ability within metal to mix both the quiet and loud is the perfect accompaniment to the dynamics within gaming. The dynamics of exploration and battle are often represented by these two extremes.
From command and conquer to doom whether RTS (Real Time Strategy) or FPS (First Person Shooter) the excitement and visceral experience are soundtracked by heavy guitars and crushing rhythms.
It may not be the case now, but for a long-time gaming and metal were niche mediums often derided as a waste of time. Both subcultures are often associated with counterculture and anti-establishment values, rejecting mainstream norms and expectations in favour of their own unique identities and interests. In the world of video games, this often takes the form of gamers pushing back against traditional activities associated with children and young adults, advocating for more inclusive and accessible gaming experiences, and championing indie games that push boundaries and challenge conventions. In the world of heavy metal, this takes the form of musicians rejecting mainstream trends and expectations, pushing the boundaries of what is musically possible, and what is often seen as musically acceptable.
Perhaps most importantly, gamers and heavy metal fans share a love of intensity and adrenaline. Both communities share a love of immersion, losing yourself to the experience and the attention to detail both cultures offer. Whether mastering a complex RPG (Role Playing Game) or breaking the constraints of an eSport to gain an advantage, gamers enjoy the intellectual pursuit in the same way metal fans often love to learn and emulate their heroes by learning an instrument and forming a band.
Nowadays the two cultures share more than ever a love of excitable, dynamic experiences and these are often reflected within their cultures. With gaming developers choosing metal and hard rock as the preferred choice of soundtrack in order to add an extra dimension to their games. In the world of metal and rock, particularly at the technical end of the genre, musicians and fans will not only listen and perform heavy music but will stream games on platforms such as twitch and kick alongside their favourite bands.
As someone who is deeply involved in both subcultures, I am constantly amazed by the power and potential of this connection. Whether I'm blasting heavy metal tunes while playing a challenging video game or immersing myself in the world of heavy metal through concerts and festivals. A fantastic example being the recent Radar Festival held in Manchester, England. Three days of progressive metal alongside a plethora of gaming experiences, creating one of the most visceral but unique crossover experiences in music and gaming today.