I’ve always harbored a not-so-secret hatred for video games. No, I don’t blame them for violent crimes. No, I don’t feel they are responsible for kids not spending enough time playing outside – sorry parents, that’s your fault. I just find them to be boring and antisocial. Outside of my 3-week Sega Genesis phase during my youth, and my fondness of beating every dude EVER in fighting games like Virtua Fighter or Soul Caliber, they just make me want to sleep or leave the room. For these reasons, I was a little apprehensive about attending Video Games Live at The Long Center Saturday, Jan. 5. But, I have a 7-year-old son, so, if anything, I was just going to live vicariously through his joy.
Video Games Live is an interactive concert experience that features superior orchestras and choirs performing some of the best and most popular video game scores of all time, all while playing synchronized video footage and lighting effects. Hosted by video game industry composer and musician, Tommy Tallarico, Video Games Live proved to appeal to gamers, non-gamers, children and their pre-disposed-to-be-uninterested mothers.
Tallarico is the co-creator, host, and executive producer of Video Games Live. He has worked on over 300 video games and won over 50 international awards for his work. On top of these credentials, he also has a rock star stage presence. Whether he’s wailing on the guitar to the music from Castlevania, or leading the crowd in an iPhone-waving du-du-du-du version of the Super Mario Bros. theme song, he can keep a crowd entertained and engaged.
The symphony orchestra and choir, which was comprised of local musicians and singers, was conducted by Emmanuel Fratianni, an award-winning artist and one of the most sought after conductors of the concert, film, TV and video game industry music worlds.
The fact that this show has a symphony setting may lead you to believe that the audience is quietly taking it all in, and giving polite accolades at the end of each song. Not the case. The crowd was rowdy, loud and very involved. A segment of the show involved an audience member, who had qualified for a Guitar Hero showdown before the show, getting on stage to try and beat some ridiculous score set by Tallarico. The gamer, who was a GIRL by the name of Erin Knight, had to get 450,000 points playing a Foo Fighters song at the Expert level. If you don’t already know, that is BIG DEAL. She nailed it (which had never been done at a Video Games Live show), and you have seriously not witnessed a crowd going as nuts as the crowd did on Saturday. My son had to cover his ears.
Despite all of the nostalgia-filled music and award-winning arrangements, the show was filled with interesting guests and funny video clips.
The FIRST-EVER Grammy nominated score for a video game composer, Austin Wintory, who arranged the music for the game Journey, made a special appearance to lead the orchestra. Wintory said that 2012 has been a blur due to all of the attention his work has been getting, and he feels honored to be the possible recipient of the first-ever video game album nomination by the Grammys.
The video clips in between segments were called “Video Game Vs.” and they involved a character from one game being thrown into a totally different game. For example, Contra annihilated Duck Hunt with bombs and flamethrowers, and Sonic completed Pac-Man in 0.2 seconds.
I left the show with a whole new appreciation for all the work that goes into video games. I had no idea that the music was taken so seriously, or that so many talented musicians, artists, and composers came together to complete a game. Video Games Live is something that the whole family can enjoy and walk away from with a more educated look into the video game industry. Plus, at some points, it’s probably the closest thing a family can get to seeing a live opera.
– Contributed by Do512 Family editor Jamie Jett