Gaming Music Comes of Age

Courtesy of Electronic Arts

Grammy attention and a lavish boxed set signal a new era of recognition for film composers in the video game space.

Video game composers are getting some long-overdue respect. As part of the new streamlined Grammys, the Recording Academy has added video games to the descriptors of four awards, giving them equal billing with film and television.

"I think this could be viewed as a first step in the direction of video games getting their own category," says Bill Freimuth, the academy's vp awards. "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."

Adds Steve Schnur, worldwide executive of music at Electronic Arts: "This acknowledges that film, TV and games can stand side by side and be independently recognized. Hopefully this will create an even playing field when people vote next year. I expect there to be a tidal wave of submissions from the game industry."

With so many Hollywood composers delving into the game space through the years, Oscar winners Hans Zimmer (Inception) and Michael Giacchino (Up) have joined colleagues including John Debney (Iron Man 2) and Christopher Lennertz (Hop) to lobby for such recognition. EA and La-La Land Records have gone so far as to release the Medal of Honor: Soundtrack Collection, an eight-disc boxed set of CDs out April 12 showcasing Medal of Honor music by Giacchino, Lennertz and Ramin Djawadi (Iron Man).

"Because of the nature of video games, the musical score has an even greater responsibility to the drama, many times adding the subtext and emotional backstory that would be delivered by dialogue in a traditional film script," Lennertz says. "More than ever, a game score needs to not only set the mood and pace of an adventure but also add stakes and drama to an ever-evolving interactive
story line."