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VG music as a standalone product

It is my utmost privilege and honour to welcome you to the first in hopefully a long line of blog posts about games, written by musicians.

This blog aims to whisk away any formal pretense stuffing up the rest of the website, letting you hear directly from (and interact with) some of the people behind the site who are involved with the indie game development scene.  

We will also delight in flagging up other useful news, info and resources both relating to music and games.

First and foremost  we are game and music fans. Sometimes this blog will  simply act as a space for us to get all excited about new developments in both industries and share that excitement with other like-minded folks.

So anyway, without further ado, here's my first post! I hope you will join me and my colleagues in the comments section afterwards for tea and biscuits :)  -Vince


VG music as a standalone product

In the UK music industry at least, I believe there is a stigma around video game music that does not exist around music for film and television. 

On March 12, 2007 Koji Kondo (Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda) received a G.A.N.G Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding work as a composer. His work has reached, and continues to reach millions, right across the globe. He has adapted his art for countless different mediums. For gamers, few living musicians are as widely regarded as having such a ‘legendary’ status.

In October 2011, I joined a packed auditorium in London's Hammersmith Apollo to attend a highly anticipated orchestral concert. Tickets were sold out literally days after they were released and perhaps for the first time in classical concert history since Video Games Live, there was not a single grey head in the house. They had come to see the Zelda 25th anniversary concert. When special guest Koji Kondo walked onto the stage and played 'Grandma's theme' from Windwaker on the piano the crowd went crazy!

Tell this story to most people and they will probably reply 'Koji- who?'. Walk into HMV and browse soundtracks section. Will you find a copy of the latest Super Mario game OST? Unlikely. Yet these are international, multi-million  selling games with a huge and loyal fan base, in many cases eclipsing that of the television and movie soundtracks that line the shelves instead. In spite of their large following, creators of game music remain largely unacknowledged in mainstream popular culture.

Is this because game music does not play as big a role as a movie soundtrack? I don't think so. For one thing there maybe music playing for the majority of a gaming experience which lasts for significantly more hours than a movie. Is it because the music is not as high quality? Again, I think not. Although game music started with humble bleeps and bloops modern AAA games now boast music scores comparable to Hollywood movies. Take franchises such as COD, Final Fantasy or Halo for example. Furthermore 8-bit music and retro music has since taken off as a musical scene in its own right (just ask Disasterpeace).

Are people simply less willing to listen to game music as a standalone album? I don't think so. Speaking from personal experience, if the music is good, I will become even more emotionally attached to it because of the length of time I spend listening to it. Of course not everyone is the same but I'm definitely not alone. The comments below are from a thread called "How huge are you on game music?" posted just earlier this month. 



I have an iPod that is filled almost exclusively with video game/movie soundtracks, so yea music is important.

MangetsuMidian said:

 Pretty much 90% of my computer HDD is animu/vidya music.

Lukewarmice said:

 Not only doi listen to it...I actually buy it which is more then most people do anymore.

Gadrastus said:

You want to know? I have the soundtrack for pretty much every game I have ever played. 


In Japan, game music has been available to buy in stores since the early days. Ok admittedly more and more record shops are getting shut down and its often very simple to buy soundtracks online. So I'm not arguing that the record shops should start lining their shelves with copies of Mushroom Men: Rise of the Fungi  (Southpeak Interactive, 2009). Only that perhaps culturally we have tended to neglect the value of video game music as a standalone product. Maybe because of its primitive 8BIT beginnings or maybe as part of a wider tendency for commentators (as well as developers) to think of video games as a one dimensional medium with inherently limited potential, bound to strict formal structures. With more and more people growing up with games, I wonder what the future holds.

What do you think? What's your favourite soundtrack? Do you have game music albums on your mp3 player? IS game music important to you? What are the attitudes toward game music in your country?



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