What's a word meaning "of or relating to video games" in the same way that cinematic is to film? I want to describe a bit of music as having video game like qualities, something more general than retro gaming blips and beeps, and find myself saying "video game-y." e.g., "the DOOM 2016 soundtrack has interesting influences. I hear allusions to previous entries in the series and many cues that feel unmistakably characteristic of video games. It sounds both cinematic and video game-y."

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    Could you provide an example sentence? It may help to jog people's memories.
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 4:05
  • cinematic literally means of or like a cinema. Films are cinematic because they are best viewed at the cinema. Video games are played and viewed at home, on a console or PC.
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 4:15
  • @MickSharpe, sure. I've added an example sentence that I hope isn't too trivial. Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 4:17
  • @Jim, that's too literal an interpretation, I think. I was considering more of a "cinematic experience." That surreal feeling of suspended disbelief one has when watching a great movie. Although this often occurs at a cinema, the place is largely defined by the movie in that moment and would feel different with different movies. There are similar feelings in video gaming although the setting is often at home. Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 4:21
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    The problem is that there are no suitable synonyms for video game. We have computer game and electronic game and they afford no improvement. Why not just drop video and use game-like. Your readers should know that you are referring to video games.
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 4:30

4 Answers 4


You are probably looking for ludic. Wikipedia gives the definition:

The adjective ludic originates from the Latin noun ludus, meaning "play, game, sport, pastime."

Related terms: ludology, ludological, ludography.

Of course, these words are rare, and may not be understood by a wide audience. Some more widely understood terms would be game-like (may or may not be hyphenated) or game-y.

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    Tom Bissell in his book Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter uses "ludic" to mean "of or related to video games (especially gameplay as opposed to a game's cinematics or narrative)". He also uses "ludonarrative" to mean "the combination of gameplay and narrative elements of a game". I think "ludic" refers more so to the gameplay elements, but I think it's a good answer nonetheless.
    – DyingIsFun
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 1:22
  • Thanks! I think I'll use gamelike as you and Mick suggested when the context is clear, as in the DOOM example, and computer or video gamelike elsewhere. There is heavy culture and meaning in video games that I would really like to emphasize as opposed to any confusion with conventional gaming so I much appreciate the ludic references provided by you and @Silenus but it seems this definition can equally apply more generally as gamelike does but is less obvious. Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 4:59
  • I'm not sure if it's common but I noticed a prominent indie dev's Wikipedia article uses the "ludography" term you mentioned: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisuke_Amaya#Ludography. Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 20:19
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    @StephenNiedzielski Having minored in gaming, I can say that ludography (and also ludology) were words I encouraged in some of my classes. It’s still not a word that everyone on the street will know, but I think it is known in certain fields.
    – Laurel
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 21:57

Oh, I love video games! Old video games sound the way they do because they use sound synthesizers. Doom in particular makes a very good example because the music was meant to be played on the Roland SC 55 Midi Synthesizer if I recall correctly, and there are various home console ports that would have used lower quality integrated synthesizers, like the S.N.E.S. which used the custom Nintendo S-SMP soundchip and and the Sega 32x which if I recall correctly would have utilized the Sega Genesis's Yamaha YM2612 F.M. synthesizer.

As such the obvious answer to this question is synthetic:


SYNTHET'ICAL, adjective Pertaining to synthesis; consisting in synthesis or composition; as the synthetic method of reasoning, as opposed to the analytical.

The American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster

The only problem is that sound synthesizers aren't always used for video games, and when applied to music it's sometimes taken as a criticism. As such, you might want to use the phrase synthetic timbre. Timbre is a word meaning:

The quality of a sound independent of its pitch and volume.

Excerpt from the Wikitionary definition of Timbre, licensed under the CC-BY-SA license.

Wikipedia even cites the words "synthetic timbre" on their Electronic Music page as being used in Sounding Art: Eight Literary Excursions through Electronic Music, Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, ISBN 0-7546-0426-8. Also before you read it, I should disclose that my pseudonym is a misnomer. I am not a musician by either trade or hobby.

[Sidebar: Right now I feel my citations are a little weak, which is because I'm busy. I'll fix them up later.]

  • +1, I really like your answer and your angle on the definition! I feel that describing a synthetic experience like this can be meaningful when it's obvious the subject is video games but might be a little ambiguous without this context. This has given some food for thought and I really appreciate you taking the time to enlighten me with this answer and your contributing to the discussion. Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 5:07
  • All MIDI, all of the time : Musical inspirations behind Doom's music
    – Mazura
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 2:42
  • @Mazura I'm in the middle of rehauling this answer, but it's taking time so you may want to check back later. In the mean time, would you happen to know of any interviews Bobby Prince may've had regarding what equipment he used? The best thing I can find is this video filmed within id's studio, but I can't quite make out the exact model. Bobby's blog says nothing. I'd rather not just say "some guys on the internet said"...
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 5:58
  • Better than nothing: "One example is the Roland Sound Canvas SC-55, a piece of professional MIDI synthesis hardware that was originally used by Bobby Prince to compose Doom's music." –chocolate-doom.org
    – Mazura
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 7:00

What's a word suffix that means "of or relating to" ?


(forming adjectives) in the style of; resembling.

"It sounds very video-game-esque."

  • +1, this is great! Between computer game-like, video game-esque, and synthetic, I think I'll be able to communicate the idea clearly. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 2:02
  • What you're really talking about is (nostalgia ;) Midi (+1 @Tonepoet). A quick search finds fanmade 'midi versions' of some of the songs found in DOOM 2016. Which I assume the new game tries to emulate using mp3s. "... many cues that feel unmistakably characteristic of [MIDI]" : MIDI-esque. Actually though, I wouldn't use any of the words suggested here. I'd say, "It sounds like DOOM music." And if you didn't know what I meant, I'd end the conversation ;)
    – Mazura
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 2:33
  • Nostalgia is definitely a factor but I am speaking as much about modern gaming as I am about what came before. I definitely wouldn't want to overload the word "MIDI." MIDIs come in a great variety and while one gaming system's implementation may have a distinct sound, they generally sound very different from one to the next and if someone said a song was MIDI-esque, I wouldn't know what they meant. DOOM (2016) was just an example. I'm seeking terms for more general application. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 14:15
  • “Google” is not a reference.
    – tchrist
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 16:45

I would say the word "cinematic" is a bit out of place, but still applies, as gaming often has "cinematic sequences." Although not relating to actual cinema or theater, the word can be applied loosely to video game soundtrack considering there are compositions for both film and game that are so similar. If you were writing about a soundtrack in a game, or even composing your own, you would likely want to use "cinematic game score" or something like that. It would be nice if there was a one word blanket for that term, but as far as I know it doesn't exist.

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