While this isn’t about video game music, this is an interesting interview about storytelling in games: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/gamesblog/2011/oct/03/gears-3-karen-traviss-interview
Video Game Heroes | Friday 2 September 2011 | Royal Festival Hall
Last night’s extravaganza at the RFH was undoubtedly an enjoyable evening, and a successful project for the LPO. It kick-started the Vision Sound Music Festival, of which I wish I could see more. Iain Lee, fromRetro Gamer, was an amusing, if on occasion somewhat inappropriate host (I can only hope that the innuendo and drug references were lost on the considerable proportion of the audience who had not yet reached the age of 16). This highlighted the target audience, although it may not have been clear through the advertising, as predominantly teen and young-adult gamers, which was particularly evident when the theme from Final Fantasy was announced to be met with tumultuous excitement from a small sect at the back of the Rear Stalls. Much amusement and laughter was derived from the various arrangements of video-game classics such as Tetris and Super Mario Brothers, especially when the large orchestral build-up to the former resulted in a comically anti-climactic rendition of the theme on the middle-octaves of the piano. The audience was here to have fun, and many were clearly very relaxed (consistent chatter and rustling occasionally became an irritating distraction). I must say, the last time I attended a concert at the RFH, it was for Mahler 3, and before that, the complete Goldberg’s. The difference in audience behavior was interesting to me, as I wondered whether it somewhat undermined the attempts to breach the boundaries of mass-consumer culture and move toward more ‘serious’ ‘high-art’. I can safely suggest this was a partial aim, alongside having a great deal of fun (and, dare I say, making much needed money), as Iain Lee himself alluded to the issue, and emphasized how he felt he had finally ‘arrived’, standing alongside ‘one of the world’s best orchestras… with ‘London’ in their title!’ The complexity and craftsmanship which he quite rightly highlighted was well demonstrated, although, for me, it rarely crossed over into the realms of ‘art’. I’ll avoid the sticky and tiresome debate around defining that term. Suffice to say, I couldn’t help myself from trying to judge the music, and the only way I could seem to do it, was by imagining what impact it would make on the usual clientele of the hall.
Finally, I should just point out a couple of highlights for me. Aside from the very enjoyable renditions of early Nintendo music already mentioned, I was excited to hear the Battlefield theme live. The first exposition of the theme was great, but thereafter, became a little repetitive, as a few rather strained variations later, we hadn’t really ‘gone anywhere’. Much of the music left me feeling similarly bemused. Indeed, the audience frequently interrupted the orchestra with applause, not due to their amazement and excitement (although to be fair, at times this was palpable), but more down to the ambiguity in musical direction–you often could not tell when they were finished. Unfortunately, the orchestra finished on just such a piece, which seemed to randomly just float upwards and stop. I think the audience were slightly caught by surprise that it was all over, but perhaps the musical effect was also dampened by the clicking noise generated by the unnecessary and distracting lighting adjustments. (The lighting was generally welcome, amusing at times, but perhaps a little gimmicky. Perhaps footage/artwork slideshows from the games would have been better?) Only Jason Graves’ Dead Space really stood out as something that had ‘done something’, something I would want to hear more of. I don’t know precisely whether it would be fair to blame the music, arrangers, or the framing of the project in general.
The UKʼs first festival of music for visuals, bringing together music, games, film, advertising and brands commences at London’s Southbank Centre on September 2nd, 3rd and 4th 2011. More information can be found at http://visionsoundmusic.com/.
Preceding the DiGRA game design conference, there will be a one day symposium on game music held at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. It will feature keynotes by internationally renowned speakers, panels and workshops. The symposium investigates music’s contribution to three important domains of video gaming: Play, Fans, and Space.
Karen Collins (Waterloo University, Canada). http://www.gamessound.com/
Mads Haahr (Dept Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin, Haunted Planet Studios). http://www.hauntedplanet.com/
Joost Raessens (Utrecht University, Center for the Study of Digital Games and Play (GAP)). http://gaputrecht.blogspot.com/
Where: Sweelinckzaal, Drift 23, Utrecht, Netherlands
When: 13 September, 2011 @ 09:00 – 19:00
For more info and registration, go to http://www.videogamemusicsymposium.com/index.html