Safety matters

The topic of safety within music games is multifaceted. In this brief overview, we'll consider it in the aspects of:

Matters of safety will greatly depend on the context of playing. The situation will be different whether you have a game in a group of close friends, at a convention, or in a staged performance, and the last case further depends on the venue, genre, or marketing. In all cases, communication is the key factor of good safety precautions. Probably you should think the longest about the topic, if you run a very open meeting, like a workshop, or a jam session, where a good mix of participants and prior experiences is to be expected.

Gaming establishment

RPG — Role-Playing Game, a game where the main focus is assuming the role of a fictional character.

Currently the most developed game safety tools may be found in the world of tabletop RPGs. This is due to their character of "improvised story" where players may happen to act out subjectively difficult situations. The tools of this type are neatly catalogued online, e.g. in and one of a more commonly known could be an "X card". This name refers to a specific authored solution, but is based on a general idea that anyone may veto anything that happens during the game. This vetoing may be expressed non-verbally, and no further details are required from the vetoer.

Such a tool may be applicable directly, as there are musical RPGs, but consider implementing this or similar mechanism in any case where you explore stories. The context of playing the role-playing games renders the approach to naturally focus on psychological safety of players, and the usage is initiated mainly by those who run the games (e.g. GMs — game masters). Currently, designers in tabletop role-playing often incorporate safety tools directly into their games.

Musical oppositions

Of our contexts of playing, the topic of safety might be the least considered in avant-garde music. When an author is deeply convinced about the merit of their existential project, safety might seem trivial in the light of "high art". Maybe the most vivid example of this contrast would be "danger music", where that's exactly the point: performing in a way that puts one's life or health at risk. Needless to say, in such cases, performers and audiences should participate freely and with sufficient information about potential consequences.

Despite some "adventurous" ideas of this sort possibly fitting between music and games, this will probably be an area that will find the least coverage on our wiki — we hope for music games to be an art form ingrained into daily lives of people of many ages and social groups, and danger music is much more special.

Specific overview

In this section, we'll go through the aforementioned aspects of safety. As for the personal role in the process of realizing a game, facilitators are probably the most responsible for safety issues, but being cautious is advisable for both players and designers. Combinations of safety categories will be covered with the exception of psychological damage to objects, as that would require a more philosophical introduction. Let's see some examples:

players audience objects

hearing loss

muscle effort strain

damage while blindfolded

hearing loss

damage from projectiles

damage from misuse

intentional damage,
but towards
a wrong object


trauma triggers

communication tensions

personal space intrusion

trauma triggers

aural emotional impact

Stories is one category that was already covered at the start of this article in the context of TTRPGs, other examples of safety issues might further be grouped by connection to specific topics:

Gaming range. Music games are diverse, so they include spatial activities with balls, blindfolds, touching, chasing, or elements of dance. Clearly marking all potential comfort zones and danger zones is on facilitators and designers, and here safety curiously crosses with the topic of accessibility. Regardless of your role, please don't think that any game might be played by any group, always leave "ways out" for players. As players, proceed (or skip one) with care and nobody loses an eye…

Genre differences. Music games are not set firmly within any musical style, and at an open meeting everyone is welcome. Still, different results might come out from the confrontation of new age singers with metal-heads, or smooth-jazz-people with noise-machinists. On one hand it is a huge potential for interesting music, but there are both physical and psychological threats to navigate with volume levels and extreme expressive load. One thing is to maintain a firmly distanced approach to musical preferences, another is to keep healthy limits, look for middle ground and fair time split.

Musical instruments. It's a frequent and nice custom to have small percussion, or such, available at an open music gaming meeting. It's very important to clearly separate this free-to-use set of objects from instruments brought by participants. This needs to be communicated effectively, especially because people unacquainted with music are often not familiar with how close personal connection musicians may have with their instruments and how expensive these things might get. It also takes experience to know which extended technique (intended or not) wears down the equipment.

Epidemics. It needs to be noted, that many music game meetings touch on social sensitivities that became mainstream only as recently as 2020. Shared usage of game components and instruments, close proximity to the central table, and a few other examples are risks that have both a physical and psychological component. General precautions are known and won't be restated here. One very specific idea tested in music gaming is to play with transparent components on a foil projector — for some games it allows better spacing.

At our wiki


Check thusly marked content thoroughly before playing it with a diverse group.

At Games for Music the general rule is that activities in the library are supposed to be generally safe. But there are exceptions as for historical entries and minor details. There is a _non-safe tag to mark risky activities, and in playable categories it displays a warning box, similar to the one presented on the right.

Included in Meet set/collection.

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