LOS ANGELES (AFP) – From The Legend of Zelda theme to the infectious Super Mario Bros score, sound and music have long been foundational to the gaming experience.
And now, in a move many fans and insiders consider long overdue, the Recording Academy for the first time has created a Grammy category specifically honouring a video game soundtrack, an acknowledgement of the major impact gaming and its music have made on pop culture.
Previously video games were included in the Score Soundtrack for Visual Media category, which also featured music for film and television. But many industry players saw that as comparing apples and oranges, pushing for a standalone video game category they’ve finally achieved.
The inaugural class of nominees honour the composers behind Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn Of Ragnarok, Call Of Duty: Vanguard, Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy and Old World.
The winner will be declared at this Sunday’s gala in Los Angeles.
“It still doesn’t seem quite real just yet,” said the British artist who wrote the Marvel score Richard Jacques.
A classically trained musician who studied at the London Academy of Music, Jacques has been in the industry for almost three decades. In 2001 he scored his debut major orchestral project, the first video game score ever recorded at the iconic Abbey Road studios.
But earning mainstream “recognition of the craft we put into our scores” has been slow-going, Jacques told AFP.
He said the new Grammy category “is finally giving us the sort of gravitas that we’ve been searching for for so long”.
The global gaming industry could hit close to USD200 billion in 2022, according to a projection from the Global Games Market Report, and a recent Deloitte survey taken across the United States, Britain, Germany, Brazil and Japan said that video games are the top entertainment source for Gen Z.
Many young gamers cite music as integral to the experience, with one third of respondents saying they looked up game music online afterwards, and 29 per cent saying they often discovered new music while gaming.
“Gamers really listen… it’s a huge part of shaping their experience for that game,” said Grammy nominee Stephanie Economou, a Los Angeles-based composer who has also scored films and television shows.
“A lot of them cannot separate the music from a game – and that’s a really exciting opportunity for any composer coming in,” the Assassin’s Creed composer told AFP.
The new category “is an important step for people to recognise that video games have been in the zeitgeist for so long now”.
Video game composing is “a new way of experiencing music and listening”, Economou said. “It’s immersive and it’s ever-evolving.”