Let’s face it: video game music is under-appreciated.
When it comes to the component parts of what makes up a video game experience, graphics, understandably, gets all the glory. Shiny textures and character models are the first thing a person sees even before they get to pick up a controller. Of course, it’s only when the interaction with gameplay starts that the true heart of a game stands revealed. So, if it’s graphics eventually getting overpowered by gameplay, the music comes in a distant third. And that’s only if you ignore other elements like AI programming.
But, people–unlikely people, mind you–are paying attention. As part of a restructuring of the Grammy Awards announced last week, music from video games will now eligible for nominations in four categories. Games music will compete against compositions from movies and TV in the newly re-named Visual Media field.
The official explanation from the Recording Academy says:
Film, TV or Other Visual Media: While none of the categories nor their criteria have changed, it was determined that a new name for the Field (with parenthetical descriptor) and Categories would be both forward-thinking and more inclusive.
It doesn’t name-check games specifically, but you gotta assume that they’re thinking about it when they use words like inclusive. Here’s how the new categories will look in next year’s ceremonies:
Film soundtrack composers have long been doing music for video games, with the most notable recent example being Hans Zimmer’s contributions to “Crysis 2”. When you look at the innovative work that’s been done with stuff like the dynamic soundtrack in last year’s “Red Dead Redemption,” this recognition by the Grammy folks feels a bit overdue. You can’t help but think that Christopher Tin’s recent nomination and win for “Civilization IV” soundtrack Baba Yetu opened the door for this category shift.
Indeed, Bill Freimuth, Vice President, Awards gets quoted in Industry Gamers, saying that the Recording Academy may be open to even further recognition:
“I think this could be viewed as a first step in the direction of video games getting their own category. Many people from the game community have been asking us to create a special category for games over the years, but the main reason we haven’t is because we have received very few entries from game publishers.”
“The Academy and the entire music industry recognize the value of video game music and what an interesting and unique art form it is,” added Freimuth. “It’s been proven more and more each year with top name artists, top composers and leading orchestras working in this medium.”
So, the next time you load up an epic RPG or an adrenalin-fueled FPS, have a care and take note of the music. If the people responsible win a Grammy, you can play it cool and say you knew about them before anyone else.