In the origin story of futuristic racing game WipEout (Psygnosis, 1995), co-creator Nick Burcombe talks about turning down the game audio in Super Mario Kart (Nintendo, 1992) and substituting it for his own electronic dance music. Burcombe, who was himself a keen participant in the Liverpool rave scene, argues that people who went clubbing in the 1990s were always looking for new forms of interactive entertainment. WipEout, where players take control of anti-gravity ships and race them to the electronic dance music tracks of artists like Cold Storage, The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, and Orbital, was that next step in interactive entertainment.

For its marketing campaign, WipEout’s packaging took its inspiration from dance music records and PlayStation installed consoles in nightclubs across the UK. In the follow-up to the original, WipEout 2097 or WipEout XL in North America (Psygnosis, 1996), players could put the game disk into a CD player and hear the soundtrack play out in its entirety, separate from the gameplay. Through a close textual analysis of the first and second versions of the game released on PlayStation, created as they were at the height of electronic dance music culture in the UK in the 1990s, and grounded in popular music studies and ludomusicology, this article inquires into the construction of the video game soundtrack, arguing that WipEout’s audiovisual relationship creates a space where players can become immersed in a rave-related experience of techno in their homes.

The research finds that Burcombe and the team at Psygnosis set out not to replicate the rave experience in their video game. Rather, in WipEout, dance music is used to immerse players in a mediated extension of the contemporary UK rave venue or club. As players move their racers onscreen, they engage in actions that edge them closer to the game’s soundtrack itself, in its use of repetition and pulsating beats, as an embodied or corporeal performance. Rather than dancing to rave, WipEout’s players are gaming to techno.

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