Features & News
The Celebration that is Video Games Live
November 10, 2014, Author: Dan Moore
Many different things make up a video-game. There are the graphics, gameplay, controls, story (sometimes) and sound effects, but the thing that really binds it all together is the music. Be it a full orchestral score or plucky chip tunes, the overall soundtrack can really bring a game together and make it all work as a coherent whole. Note: I am talking about original music made specifically for a game here, not licensed.
It’s these original compositions that are the basis for Video Games Live, the multi-media concert tour that recently stopped in Manchester UK and I had the privilege to attend.
If you don’t know what Video Games Live is, it is a concert tour started by Tommy Tallerico, a noted game composer. He is in the Guinness Book of Records as the composer that has worked on the most games ever, with over three hundred under his belt. The idea is to celebrate game music by playing live versions of the themes to some of the greatest games ever made.
I have to say that my expectations were a bit out of place for this event. I thought that every third person would be a cosplayer and merchandise would be everywhere, with small games vendors selling their wares in the lobby to Link and Cloud Strife. I actually saw two people in cosplay, though I have to admit the number of people in gaming related T-Shirts was quite high and some were very cool, so my list of potential buys became rather long.
After realising that I was being a bit daft with that, the night became a normal theatre going experience for a time. We went to the bar and ordered some drinks, found our seats and awaited the show to start. The stage was lit up with three massive screens and the seats for the various band members to sit in, with the screens showing the usual promotion ads.
The screens then changed and started playing a couple of videos from various YouTubers inspired by games. There was a live action video of Ms Pac-Man being chased around New York by three ghosts, another where a cover of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World changed the lyrics to fit with Super Mario World. It put the audience in a great mood and then the show began proper with opening number Castlevania.
It was fantastic, and my heart was pounding as the instruments ran through the iconic score. As it finished, the crowd went wild, the stage now set for a great night. Every so often Tommy would come out on stage and talk to the crowd, giving insights to the inspiration behind Video Games Live, his favourite scores and amusing titbits and anecdotes. What I didn’t realise is that the set-list actually changes from show to show, as he creates an events page for each show on Facebook and asks attendees to submit requests.
I didn’t know every single song played, but the ones I did were great to hear live, and the few I didn’t gave me a chance to hear music I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. I had never seen a live orchestra before, and that added to the experience as there was really no other way to do the tracks being played.
The best thing was it isn’t just a celebration of game music, Video Games Live is a proper celebration of games. The videos played at intervals honoured great games while also being funny and cool, and the fact that they had managed to get the likes of Hideo Kojima to introduce the Metal Gear Solid segment was great.
Everything was played flawlessly, and the whole experience was enough to make me want to go back as soon as they are in town again. I will say this though: go with gaming friends, as I went with my wife who’s not a gamer, and it would have been a bit more fun to really geek out with people into the same things. To be fair, though, even she came out of the night with a better understanding of game music.
Video Games Live is a wonderful experience for those who love the material, and embraces the fact that games can be a little silly and fun. It is a great night out and I cannot recommend it enough.