VGL – Video Games Live

May 5, 2011

I think one of our biggest triumphs of our species is the ability to collaborate and achieve something more.  Combining ideas to solve a problem, plan a future, or make something unique, beautiful and fun; Collaboration is the key to success. That’s how I see it with all aspects of society, including all types of entertainment. Movies provide the visual experience, music provides the hearing experience, and sports (overall exercise) provide the physical experience. What does video games provide then, all of them? Video games take the visual cinematography, originating from movies,  the physical engagement we receive with sports, and the sounds we hear with music. All three of these aspects should be weighed equally if you want to make a good game, but most of the time, it’s usually one over the other. The section that gets the least amount of attention, and therefore credit, is the music heard in games.

A few days ago, I had the chance to see Video Games Live in Toronto, and overall it was a fantastic show! Hosted by Tommy Tallarico, and conducted by Emmanuel Fratianni, the show included the music from such titles as Mega Man, Super Mario Bros, Zelda, World of Warcraft, Halo, Chrono Trigger, Portal, God of War, and many more! The orchestra displayed a high amount of energy and the solo performances by Martin Leung, and Laura Intravia were spectacular.  I was particularly stunned by  the Chrono Trigger performance, simply because I’ve never played the game, nor heard it’s music. It left me wanting to download the entire OST. VGL even had one of the original singers from the Grammy award winning song “Baba Yeto” from Civilization 4.

Now, I’m a big fan of classical orchestrated concerts, and the level of professionalism that comes out of those. I don’t like it when a show of this caliber is interrupted every five minutes (give or take) by the host , nor do I want to watch contestants play Frogger or Guitar Hero on stage. It felt like the show was stretched and at times, childish. Tommy Tallarico was a great host, it just didnt fit the event I was hoping to hear that night. He would say during the show, “now here is my steam-punk guitar, attached with a sniper rifle, so now we’re going to play the music to Halo!”, which didn’t make much sense to me at all.

After the concert, I watched a few trailers from a PBS VGA special, and found out that the show is targeted towards a younger audience for kids to have fun and get  involved with music. Thats good and all, but it seemed like Tommy was contradicting himself when he said that “some people think video games are just for kids”, receiving a huge roar of boo’s from attendees. Let me just add that I completely agree with those boo’s. With that being said,  if you need ‘strip’ (so to speak) the level of professionalism in order to sell more tickets, how does that strengthen the point that video games are meant for all ages, and all types of people? If the show was more professional, would no one show up? I personally believe that it would still be a fantastic show, maybe it’s just me turning into an “old fart”.

The music and performers blew my mind, it was just the little things that dampened my night! I really wouldn’t mind going back next year! It’s great to see the music in video games being recognized for it’s beauty, and the collaboration of so many fantastic composers! Like Tommy would say, it’s not just about bleeps and bloops.

Fun Fact: Most of the performers were from Canada, which was awesome!

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