Measuring Impact From the Grammy’s Recognition of Video Game Soundtracks

The video game industry has historically been a siloed one–kept separate from main stream media and award shows. People didn’t take the medium seriously, and most people definitely didn’t consider it a form of art. Even film adaptations of video games decades ago were…mediocre at best.

Once thought only made for children or nerds, video games have expanded their reach due to breathtaking storylines, beautiful music, and increased accessibility. Some argue that video games are, in fact, an art. However, when it comes to awards and recognition, they’ve still been limited to their own ceremonies like Geoff Keighley’s Game Awards or the Golden Joystick Awards. Only in 2004 did BAFTA–the British Academy of Film and Television Arts–restructure themselves to include the BAFTA Game Awards and recognize Video Games. While 2004 seems like a lifetime ago, it’s still pretty recent when you take a look at how long video games have existed.

In 2022, appreciation for what video games have to offer has reached a new high with companies like Netflix and HBO Max swooping in on show adaptations, podcasts and streamers sharing their experiences, and the expansion of gaming merchandise. For example, a solid chunk of titles will release an official sound track–some even find their way into Spotify!

We’ve also seen a shift in main stream award shows–where video games have snuck in nominations and even won. Examples include:

  • Best Documentary, The Oscars (2021): Colette. This is a short film featured in Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, a VR game.
  • Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, The Grammys (2013): Journey
  • Best Arrangement, Instrumental, or A Cappella, The Grammys (2022): Meta Knight’s Revenge

However, the Grammys officially will recognize video games in one of their new categories in 2023: Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media. This has set a precedent that acknowledges the work and talent of composers of video game music, much like how composers are recognized for their work in movies. Not only it “legitimizes” video game music, but it also sets a standard, and I hope that developers are further encouraged to provide great quality music–perhaps making it as much of a priority as graphic fidelity, gameplay, and performance.

The nominees for the first Best Score Soundtrack for Video games are from Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and Old World. Now, some have raised an eyebrow on the first ever selection, but like with any other award show, not everyone is going to be happy with the selections. Some will get offended if a their favorite game is snubbed. I hope that the gaming community will rise above that and simply celebrate and recognize hard-working composers and wonderful music.

Image Credit: Austin Wintory

The Grammy’s even published a glowing article of the history of video game music from its evolution from the 8-bit games to fully composed albums. Here, they site a  Deloitte survey which shows 87% of Gen Zers and 83% of Millennials play video games of some kind at least once a week. The numbers don’t lie, and I personally believe its quite the milestone for the Grammy’s to recognize this fact. Although if I were to be honest, I also think it’s been long overdue.

If you’re active in the gaming industry, you’ve likely noticed a boom of vinyl soundtracks for video games. Companies like iam8bit and Limited Run produce these vinyl albums, and they are becoming more commonplace. There are also touring orchestras that honor gaming music, like the Symphony of the Goddesses that play Legend of Zelda music and Distant Worlds that play Final Fantasy music.

Image Source: iam8bit

I can confidently say that anyone who has played video games can recall music that has stuck with them throughout the years. It could be anything from a catchy melody or heart-thumping battle themes. Some can even move you. Therefore, why wouldn’t scores in video games be valued any less than music from any other media such as television and cinema?

Overall, the addition and recognition of video game soundtracks by the Grammys is a win for everyone. The Grammys will hopefully draw a larger audience, refreshing the viewership of these long-running award shows. It will also expose music lovers who are perhaps not into playing video games to some quality soundtracks that they would otherwise miss out on. On the flip side, I believe this would further incentivize developers and publishers to always aim for quality in music when creation a new game.

Some of my personal favorite OSTs include: The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, Gris, The Last of Us, Super Mario Galaxy, Coffee Talk, Stray, Tunic, and Kingdom Hearts. What are some video game scores or soundtracks you love? Please share your thoughts with us on our Boss Rush Facebook Group or our Boss Rush Discord.

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The Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and The Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, LeRon, Stephanie, Edward, and their friends from around the internet come together to talk their week in games, entertainment, and more while also bringing topics for conversation, answer listener and community questions, and cover major news and events happening in the video game industry. Watch The Boss Rush Podcast live on Wednesday Nights on Twitch at 8:30PM ET / 5:30PM PT or on Friday mornings at 7AM ET on YouTube and podcast services everywhere. Thanks for listening! You can also get this episode one week early on Patreon.

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Sources: Deloitte via the Grammys, the Grammys, the Washington Post
Featured Image Source: the Grammys

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