Why is it that so many people still assume as video gamers we cannot appreciate other forms of art? Are we so locked into our own little digital worlds that we cannot appreciate the beauty of other forms of entertainment? It is total BS and I don’t know why some people would even come to that conclusion. Thankfully, six years ago, a couple of men put part of that stereotype to rest when they decided to create Video Games Live and take the music that we loved from our games and use orchestras and symphonies to play this music at venues the skeptics thought would be foreign to us. Thankfully Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall were able to think outside the box and work hard to prove them all wrong.
Six years ago, on July 6, 2005, after three years of planning and preparation, Tallarico and Wall held their first performance of Video Games Live before a sellout crowd at the famed Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California. With the accompaniment of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Tallarico and Wall entertained the nearly 11,000 attendees by playing some of the best known and most beautifully composed pieces of music from some of the most popular video game series and franchises at the time including Warcraft, The Legend of Zelda and Halo. Together, Wall and Tallarico, the musicians and the thousands of fans in attendance, myself included, proved the skeptics wrong when they had told the pair that they would never attract a crowd of gamers to such an event. I wonder what those same critics and skeptics are thinking now, six years later, when Video Games Live has gone on to become a worldwide phenomenon – literally!
Video Games Live has performed in more than 70 cities in countries around the globe since its inception in 2005. They have sold out venues in the US, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, Australia, England, Peru, Germany, Sweden… the list goes on and on. But in venues in each of those cities, Video Games Live has sold out their shows attracting, not just gamers, but music fans who have come to appreciate the diverse level of music found in today’s video games. So many people across the world cannot be wrong – gamers can appreciate other forms of art. No one ever believed that you could get gamers out of their homes to see symphonies, choirs and orchestras perform – but they have. And they have done so in droves. Just over a month ago, while covering the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles for my website, NfamousGamers.com, I had the chance to once again attend a performance of Video Games Live. Little did I know that it would also be the 200th performance of Video Games Live since its beginnings six years prior. And let me tell you, I enjoyed the 200th performance just as much as I did the first one six years ago. Scratch that, I take it back. I enjoyed it more.
The experience Tallarico and Wall and their team have gained in that time showed as the performance was more fun, more interactive and more entertaining than I remember the first one being. And the first performance was one of the greatest shows I ever remember seeing. Six years and 200 performances later, Tallarico and Wall have found success when everyone told them they would only find failure. In doing so, they have also begun to break away one stereotype that has haunted gamers for years. They went out and supported an art form that many people once considered foreign to us. That was never the case. They were open and accepting of this form of entertainment from the very beginning. It was the critics and skeptics that have since begun opening themselves to video games. It is no more evident than looking at the respect video game composers have received by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences over the last two years.
In 2009, composer Christopher Tin received two Grammy Awards; one for his album “Calling All Dawns” (Best Classical Crossover Album) and the other for his piece “Baba Yetu” (Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist) which was originally included in 2005’s Civilization making it the first time a piece of video game music won such a recognizable award in the field of music.
Even more remarkable is that beginning in 2012, music from video games will now be recognized by the Grammys and will be eligible for awards from that point forward. So who really are the ones who were closed minded to other forms of art in the first place?