Bonus Round! What Videogame Music Means to Me

With Classic FM's Hall of Fame 2016 still open for votes, I decided to blog about what videogame music means to me, and why I vote for it every year. 2015 was a great year on this chart for videogame music, and Classic FM is so supportive, with dedicated specials to the genre a few times a year. For those of us who grew up hunting for soundtracks online, and importing them from Japan (hello, Kingdom Hearts OSTs), mainstream recognition for composers such as Nobuo Uematsu, Yoko Shimomura and Koji Kondo is so exciting. They are incredibly talented and put so much work into their music. They deserve the same kind of recognition we now give film composers. I think we're slowly moving towards that kind of appreciation from the wider music world, but there's more we can do to help. We just have to keep sharing our reasons for loving such amazing music.

Videogame music has enriched my entire life. It's given me strength when I needed it, inspired my own creativity, brought new people into my life, and educated me in more ways than one. It makes me so happy. I just love it!

The music found in videogames has broadened my appreciation, taste and understanding of music. It's been there my whole life, and it's gone from strength to strength. The music has connected me to other people, and it's a huge part of the reason I've become a musician. Videogame music is exciting, experimental, and ever-changing. There truly is something for everyone.

Videogame music isn't that much older than me, especially compared to film and TV scores. My earliest game memories come from things like Centipede, Pitfall, the Dizzy series (especially Fantastic Dizzy in the mid-90s), and Hunter. My earliest memories of videogame music come from listening to my eldest brother playing Dune on his Amiga. It's about the only thing I remember about that game. I also remember Fire and Ice. That had some great music! We were very late to the Sega/Nintendo consoles, but the music from Sonic the Hedgehog has certainly stuck with me.

Ask me what I remember about Chrono Trigger, and I'll point you to this piece of music:

And Final Fantasy V?

(You have not lived until you've heard that performed by an orchestra. Thank you Final Symphony II!)

For me, it was the original 1996 Resident Evil that really opened up the world of game music. The score is so menacing and brooding. I'd never heard anything like it before, and it terrified me. There were sections of the game that took all of my courage to play through because the music was so intense. The game also did something else, something really important. It introduced me to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Finally, classical music resonated with me in a way it never really had before.

I do not think I would enjoy classical music the way I do today if not for Resident Evil. It opened up an entire world of classical music in a way I hadn't experienced before. It made it more interactive to someone who, at the time, couldn't play an instrument.

Oh, and videogames also introduced me to film scores. Anybody else remember the Blade Runner PC game? Never would've discovered Vangelis' score without it.

With the PlayStation, I had access to a wealth of different soundtracks. Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Breath of Fire III... These and so many more still resonate today. They dominate my iPod's writing playlists. And, for the record, the Breath of Fire series is seriously underrated. The music from the fifth game is some of my all time favourite.

Videogame music has grown and matured over the years. I anticipate game scores just as much as the games themselves. And it's not all orchestral grandeur. Some of it belongs in a club.

And a lot of it wouldn't sound out of place in a high street clothing store.

There isn't a genre videogame music can't encompass, and it frequently transcends the games it comes from. Although I have an emotional tie to music from games I adore, I also love to explore music from games I haven't played (yet).

That is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard in my whole life. Listen to the emotion packed into it. Stunning.Thank you, Jessica Curry. I can't wait to hear what you compose next <3

Over the years I've amassed a collection of videogame soundtracks - some physical copies, others via iTunes. I'm no stranger to importing CDs from Japan, although I did managed to buy the first Kingdom Hearts soundtrack in a Virgin Records back in 2003! I was SO excited to see it there among all the other soundtracks. Finally, I wouldn't have to turn on my PS2 just to hear Simple and Clean. Yeah, I owe my J Pop fascination to Kingdom Hearts, too. I wish it was that easy to get all the soundtracks, but while more are available on iTunes, some still require some seeking out.

Videogame music is also the reason I finally decided to play the violin. I was on the bus one day listening to a track from Kingdom Hearts 3D and I thought "I would love to be able make music like this." I'm a violinist! It's so exciting!

I'm so lucky to have a violin teacher who supports me when I bring sheet music from Zelda or Final Fantasy to a lesson ^_^ Hey, I've introduced her to game music, too!

Here's where I have to say a big THANK YOU to every other videogame music fan out there, because their dedication is so inspiring. From those who campaign to help gaming music earn more recognition, to those who create amazing cover albums. The fans are some of the most enthusiastic, passionate and productive out there. I am constantly impressed by the quality of cover albums fans put together. They're working to make videogame scores so much more accessible. It can still be tricky and expensive to get hold of videogame music, but when you've got fans putting so much effort and love into covers, it's easier than ever to hear the music you love. If you've got a favourite piece of music from a videogame, search for it on Youtube. Chances are good you'll find excellent covers.

And it's so exciting to be among fellow fans at the increasing numbers of concerts performed around the world dedicated to videogame music. The atmosphere hums with happiness, excitement and appreciation. You're among hundreds of fans who share your passion. This year I'm going to two concerts in two different countries! When I say to myself "Hey, remember you have tickets to Symphony of the Goddess and Symphonic Fantasies?" I burst out into the biggest smile. I cannot put into enough words how thrilling it is to hear a professional orchestra perform music from videogames. Watching the London Symphony last year was a highlight of my life. I sat there hearing music from my whole life performed by incredibly talented professional musicians. It was utterly captivating. Oh, and I still can't get through the LSO's Final Symphony album without tearing up. If you ever need to convince someone of the majesty of videogame music, that's the album to give them.

I live in hope that we will get a BBC Prom dedicated to videogame music. And not just so I can go back to the Royal Albert Hall. The Proms are exactly the recognition this music needs and deserves.

Videogame music has, and always will be, a source of joy and inspiration for me. I can't wait to hear what the future of this genre holds. And I love to share all of this with you. As my fellow writers, you never know when the next piece of music will inspire greatness. And to my fellow videogame music fans, let's keep doing what we can to bring this music to a wider audience.


  1. Video game music is amazing. There are several that I enjoy listening to. . .and I'm often awed by the stories behind the games too. Now, I'm going to go off and listen to some :)

    1. It is amazing. I hope you enjoy your favourites ^_^

  2. Oh man, this post made me so nostalgic. Absolutely loved the nod to The World Ends With You, as well -- that was a big game for me. I was a staunch handheld gamer, and suddenly my wee DS was piping out proper songs, with vocals and verses and choruses, like a CD. A proper soundtrack! Just like a movie! It was roughly at the same time I was playing Sonic Adventure, which had this poppy soundtrack too.

    As for earliest memories, what really sticks with me is the Lavender Town theme from Pokemon Yellow/Red/Blue. That tune is just so incredibly haunting, even after all this years.

    (And for pure catchiness, The Legend of Zelda themes and the Sonic the Hedgehog opening themes were ace.)

    These last months I've been playing a few games, and it's always the soundtracks that stick with me long after it's done. UNDERTALE (such a good game, oh my gosh) has all these reoccuring leitmotifs, with themes reoccuring and remixing and weaving together in this amazingly coherent way that totally fits the story. And I just finished LIFE IS STRANGE which plays like an indie movie and has a folk/indie rock soundtrack to match.

    Long after the game's over, I can go back to the soundtracks and it feels like I'm experiencing all those moments for the first time again. It's such an amazing feeling.

    1. Always happy to provide nostalgia. And yes, I *love* it when a game soundtrack takes me back to the moments in the game that really hit me.

      The World Ends With You is such a great game. And it really showed what you could expect from a DS.

      I haven't played Pokemon in *years* but I still remember the music when I hear it.

      Undertale is on my "to play" list when I have both the money and time. So is Life is Strange. Aaaah, so many games, so little time and money ^^;;;;


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