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  #1  
Old Nov 9, 2009, 12:47 PM
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Default Should Video Game Music Become Mainstream?

As video game music continues to gain popularity and become increasingly more "dynamic", "appealing" to a mainstream audience who weren't before interested or educated in this type of music, should video game music become mainstream?

This isn't so much a discussion as to whether video game music is headed the path of becoming mainstream, but rather, whether it should be.

For many of us here, video game music is viewed as something special and, in a way, makes us feel unique from others that prefer the mainstream music that can be heard on the radio. On the other hand, however, if video game music were to become mainstream, might that take away from what we view as special and unique?

Despite the growing popularty of video game music, a majority of people still don't listen to it, perhaps even ridiculing those that do based on some narrow-minded view, but often times we may think that because of this, they are the ones that are missing out, and this adds further support to what we consider to be unique.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for video game music becoming more popular and available to the masses, I just sometimes wonder if I'd be pursuing it the same way if it were to be considered mainstream. Interestingly enough, before I started listening to video game music, there were many genres of music that I simply wasn't interested in. It wasn't until after I started to really listen to video game music that I came to appreciate these other genres. Perhaps if I viewed video game game music as just any other type of music, I might not have developed such an interest in...orchestral or synth-pop or...ect.

Anyway, I just thought that this would be an interesting topic here. Feel free to discuss your opinon on the matter.
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  #2  
Old Nov 9, 2009, 03:44 PM
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I feel video game music is, in a way, already becoming more mainstream, because gaming as a whole has become more mainstream. The music within a game is generally a reflection of the style of the game itself. Asking ourselves if VGM should become mainstream is moot. I could draw many parallels and similes, but the important part here is that fans of video game music, like fans of anything, like to share their interest with others. Eventually, VGM mixes with other mainstream interests, and this combination is fed back unto the creation of the next round of VGM.

Just look at stuff like Subarashiki Kono Sekai and Grand Theft Auto. Both are influenced by urban culture, even though there are the Japanese/American and original/licensed differences. Do I like it? No. I think it's annoying, because I'm not a fan of most mainstream music (or several other mainstream activities for that matter). Luckily, there will always be the people who think differently and will cater to the taste of people who were fans of VGM back when it was more quaint. But even here, the level of staunchness is relative. After all, there are still some people who think only chiptunes can qualify as true VGM.

And if you're considering the whole "hearing Chrono Cross on the radio" aspect, it's not going to happen. Withholding a random instance here or there, the only VGM that will be creeping onto public airwaves will be stuff that sounds close to mainstream and/or classical music already. It's a melting pot, not Viva La VGM RevoluciĆ³n!

Last edited by Kaleb.G; Nov 9, 2009 at 03:48 PM.
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  #3  
Old Nov 9, 2009, 04:21 PM
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ick, i'll probably incoherantly ramble here...

niche as it is, i think vgm has a pretty healthy audience these days, though maybe not as popular or widely commercially available (in the west at least) as say, film music, and i expect it'll stay that way for the foreseeable future.

also, i've noticed a certain phenomena - this idea that listening to soundtracks to other media (games/films/TV shows etc.) outside of their context is sort of perverse somehow, like the music is gravely diminished in value when not listened to in context (or at least without prior experience of its context) - it's an attitude i've encountered first-hand before, even around vgm communities. perhaps because vgm is composed to go with a game, listening to it on its own merit is confusing to some people, like they feel they don't have the full picture or they're missing something, so they don't "get it"... maybe. i think that's one of the things that limits the wider appeal of vgm and film scores... with mainstream popular music, it's much more of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get deal. though i think the whole "you must experience it as a soundtrack" argument is flawed anyway; music is music.

in order for soundtracks to have the same appeal as popular music, they would have to be marketed the same way -- with the music as the forethought and the game/movie as the afterthought, whereby game composers would work from the perspective of "my music is featured on this game" rather than "I wrote music for this game". that isn't going to happen. if it did, vgm would be truly dead, because there wouldn't be anything definitive about writing for games anymore. anyway, it wouldn't happen because it's impractical and wouldn't work.

hm. that probably raises more questions than it answers. /ramble
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Last edited by Blitz Lunar; Nov 9, 2009 at 04:23 PM.
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Old Nov 18, 2009, 11:56 AM
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I would rather it didn't, but the closest VGM will ever come to being mainstream is with the attempts to make it more respectable by taking more of an orchestral/orchestrated approach. That's not quite the same thing, but short of simply inserting pre-existing popular music into games like GTA, I don't see VGM ever becoming truly mainstream the way band music has long been. Not only because of the dependence on context association that is inherent to score music, but because the social/cultural element (which is what folks relate to very easily in whatever the current/popular style of band music is) of VGM is just a lot more obscure. Part of that might be how a lot of VGM has long come from Japan, but part of it is simply the aforementioned nature of score music.

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Originally Posted by Blitz Lunar View Post
though i think the whole "you must experience it as a soundtrack" argument is flawed anyway; music is music.
It should be more like, you should experience it as a soundtrack. You don't have to just the same as you could ignore the dialog of a film and derive meaning through the visuals alone, but like you yourself go on to say, VGM would be dead if composers just wanted to put their original music on a game without any consideration for what the game is trying to get across. Like film music, VGM is VGM precisely because it's made to fit and enhance the context of the game experience. Some snobbish VGM fans (just as you've had arguments with context people, I've had arguments with musicality people who claim that considering the context is "limiting", which is an even more flawed argument) would do well to remember that even as they promote the whole "music is music" angle for the sake of appreciating VGM without the context. The truth is, part of the reason that such a thing is possible to any meaningful degree is that VGM has something of a universal vocabulary that is unique to it. Because we've all experienced various VGM before, even if we haven't played the game for which a specific score belongs to, there are often certain commonalities which can be appreciated and understood. It's not something one can always label specifically perhaps, but things like composer styles, looping, an emphasis on melody (this tends to be especially true with the chiptune stuff), and the general genre and/or style of a game can go a ways towards helping us understand to some degree the context and intention of a game score without really having experienced it.

(If anyone is wondering, I HAVE come to appreciate a game score before without having experienced the context, but I still think it's a good thing to experience the context; even if the game sucks, it's likely to give you a better understanding of what the music is going for, particularly in more complex [i.e. story-driven] games)
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Old Nov 22, 2009, 09:36 PM
Jodo Kast Jodo Kast is offline
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I've done a 'thought experiment (gedanken)' in which I made a radio station that plays video game music only. It would be equivalent to the major radio stations and accessible by anyone using a regular FM radio. One thing I concluded is that if arranged music from KOEI or SNK albums were played, then people would want to know where it came from. It would 'grab' their attention, because they don't have the type of sounds one would expect from a video game. There are many other examples, such as Symphony Ys and Turok 2.

I know that 'grown folks' love video game music and they gravitate towards it without knowing what it is from. As an example of this, I was playing Final Fantasy VIII when it was released. I lived with my parents at that time, and my Mom asked me to record music from the game, because she could use it in her class where she taught relaxation techniques. A few days after the class, she told me that the people (adults) were asking about that music. They wanted to know where to buy it, where it came from, etc.

One of my dad's friends (aged 48 at the time) loved music from Star Ocean 2 and Turok 2; he claimed he had never heard anything so 'smooth (the word he used)' before. He also liked Madara Special.

I have many more examples, but based on what I've directly experienced, I would say that the potential for 'grabbing' people through video game music is phenomenal. It's very much unlike what they are accustomed to hearing and thus instantly piques curiosity.

I think a radio station that strictly played arranged video game music would surprise thousands of people, due to the lack of knowledge in the populace.
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 09:07 AM
Sirusjr Sirusjr is offline
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Jodo Kast I completely agree with the fact that many times the best part about video game music is that it can be extremely relaxing. The same thing can be said for well done anime soundtracks and movie soundtracks. It is something that is largely ignored in other genres of music.

While oftentimes I agree with the argument that listening to the music in proper context makes it easier to enjoy I also find that in many cases, the only reason I like an anime is because I also really enjoy the music and how it shapes the events on screen. Thus something that otherwise lacks emotional effect is made more powerful through the type of music.

I highly doubt game music will ever become mainstream for the main reason that, just like a large group of people have a hard time appreciating classical music, a lot of people find game music to simply be background music not suited for normal listening. Although that is the exact reason I enjoy it so much. I have to have music while I do any work around the house or study and having music that not only keeps me relaxed but is easy to keep in the background is just what I need.
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