Hip-Hop Week | Hip-Hop vs. Game Design: How Game Designers Incorporate the Freestyle Elements of Hip-Hop into Hip-Hop Themed Video Games

Hip-Hop Week concludes with this post on In Third Person! For the grand finale, I look at the point where the elements of hip-hop freestyle collide with game structure. Has any game ever found the right balance? Thank you for joining me on this adventure!


The element of improvisation is a foundational block of hip-hop music and culture. In the beginning, the scene started with DJs, rappers, and breakdancers making things up as they went. Though hip-hop music and culture has been mainstream for quite some time, the ethos of what freestyle means still permeates.

Translating that freeform nature of hip-hop has been a challenge in the world of video games. By virtue of being a game, the “game” part needs some sort of quantifiable benchmark to define success. This flies in the face of the freeform nature of the culture.

Let’s look at a few ways in which developers have tried to provide structure for the purposes of making a fun game, while trying to maintain the freestyle nature of the activity its emulating.

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