Video Games Live: Music Goes Gaming

Kristin Houser Writer & Editor, LA Music Blog

No longer is humming along to the soundtrack of your favorite first-person shooter the only way you can enjoy the sweet combination of gaming and music. From immersive concert experiences to interactive music videos to web-wide scavenger hunts, gaming and music are now joining forces in a multitude of creative ways.

For the gamer who can’t help but sing along to their favorite game scores, Video Games Live is a must-attend concert experience.

Launched in 2005, the perpetual tour features music from the most popular video games of all time. Songs are performed live by top orchestras and choirs backed by high-tech light shows, electronic percussionists, synchronized video segments, and more.

In addition to enjoying music from their favorite video games, past and present, in a completely unique setting, attendees also have a chance to be selected to play a video game onstage while the orchestra provides an interactive soundtrack. The best part? The players can even win prizes during the concert!

While Video Games Live brings game music into concert halls, some musicians are moving in the opposite direction and adding gaming elements to their music releases. It’s no surprise that one of the first acts to “gamify” the music experience in this way has been the ever-innovative Arcade Fire.

The Canadian experimental indie-rock act’s 2010 track “We Used To Wait” was used for “The Wilderness Downtown,” an interactive video created as part of the Chrome Experiments, a series of web experiments built entirely with open web technologies.

After instructing the user to input the address of where he or she grew up, the interactive “Wilderness Downtown” video took them on a journey through their childhood neighborhood via the use of Google mapping technology and HTML5. This technology allowed director Chris Milk to create a video that engaged music fans in a never-before-explored way, tapping into viewers’ oldest memories to establish emotional links between the song and their pasts.

Earlier this year, Brooklyn-based trio Archie Pelago also went beyond the traditional single release by offering fans an interactive video experience for the track “Saturn V” off their “Lakeside Obelisk” EP.

Like “The Wilderness Downtown,” “Saturn V” may not be a game in the traditional sense (you can’t win or lose at it), but the interactive video does allow fans to “experience the song while wandering around inside it, and inside the world it inhabits.”

As users explore the game’s 3D-rendered, three-level setting, which was designed to represent the minds of the various band members, they affect the music being played in the background. For example, moving up a level in the building drops out the bass, while exploring the bottom level results in a mix lacking in treble.

Some artists are using games as a way to interactively promote their new music, with full albums being offered as the prize for winning.

Leading up to the release of their fifth studio album, “Synthetica,” indie-rock band Metric engaged their fans in an Internet-wide scavenger hunt.

With clues appearing “anywhere and everywhere along the information super highway,” this hide-and-seek game gave fans the opportunity to team up to unlock a digital stream of the band’s “Synthetica” album up to two weeks prior to the album’s US release.

Recently, Intel also joined forces with Pitchfork to create Soundplay, an interactive program focused on the intersections of music, gaming, and technology.

As part of Pitchfork’s Soundplay program, several of today’s most innovative game developers were commissioned to create new, original games inspired by songs by M83, Cut Copy, Matthew Dear, and more.

This initial slate of video game releases was then followed up by the Soundplay Game Jam in September 2013.

Co-presented by Kill Screen, Game Jam allowed fans to try out four games created by four teams of developers in the 48 hours prior to the event. Each team’s game was created using the Intel Ultrabook and tracks from indietronica band Passion Pit’s “Gossamer” album. The team whose game earned the most votes from fans won a $1,000 prize, making Game Jam a game about making games (pretty meta, if you ask me).

With so many options for enjoying great music while indulging their inner gamer, today’s entertainment fans needn’t simply listen to music anymore; they can play with it.

Images courtesy of Video Games Live, Nasty Little Man by JF Lalonde, Archie Pelago, Nasty Little Man, and Pitchfork.

As Co-Founder and Lead Writer/Editor for LA Music Blog, a Los Angeles-based music news and review website, Kristin Houser’s life revolves around music and technology. She has been an avid fan of music ever since discovering her parents’ vinyl collection while still in elementary school, and she is fascinated by all the ways technology allows her to discover new music and share it with the world. She currently manages a staff of fifteen writers and contributors at LA Music Blog, and when she isn’t scouring the internet for her latest musical obsession, Kristin frequents Los Angeles’ many music venues where she can usually be found hovering near the front of house engineer while jotting down set lists in her smart phone. She is very pleased to share her latest music obsessions and all the ways technology allows her to discover and enjoy music with iQ by Intel’s audience.


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