The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 14, 2012

Joe Hadsall: Video game music's nomination an epic win

By Joe Hadsall
Globe Features Editor

JOPLIN, Mo. — There was a lot to be excited about when the list of Grammy nominations was released earlier this month. I heartily approve of nods to Mumford and Sons, Fun, Frank Ocean and the Black Keys. I'm sure Jeremiah Tucker is already writing his column about Jack White getting recognized for his solo efforts.

But the thing that geeks me out the most happens in the category for Best Score Soundtrack. Austin Wintory's score for "Journey" is up against some tough competition, including Hans Zimmer's "The Dark Knight Rises," Howard Shore's "Hugo" and John Williams' "Tintin."

If you're scanning your brain trying to remember when "Journey" was in theaters and what it sounded like, quit now, for a couple of reasons:

Let that second bullet point sink in. "Journey" is a video game, and its music is up there with Zimmer, Shore and Williams.

It's a nomination that Wired.com rightly labeled as "a big win for video game music." And it furthers the notion that video games can be considered as much art as movies, TV shows and other visual storytelling media.

Two years ago I wrote about "Flower," a game for Playstation 3 by That Game Company, and how it was evidence that Roger Ebert was an idiot for saying that video games could never be art. That game's experience is greatly enhanced by the music of Vincent Diamante.

Strong music plays a role in so many of my favorite video games:

I could go on with all the games that have been greatly enhanced by great music: "God of War," "Shadow of the Colossus," "Bioshock," "Uncharted." I could even get retro: Music for "Legend of Zelda," "Mega Man," "Blaster Master," "Metroid" and "Sonic the Hedgehog" are just as awesome, if not more impressive because of those systems' technological limitations.

For a video game's music to get put on the same level as "Dark Knight" and "Hugo" is quite an achievement and a legitimization of the art behind video games. Gamers have long known that there is much more to games than button-mashing action and fantasy violence.

Great stories are being told in these games. Compelling experiences are happening, and art is unfolding in 1080p, guided by dual analog joysticks. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the show Ñ one level at a time.