At Sunday’s 65th Grammy Awards, video game music will finally get its own category. The new addition has been a long time coming. In the past, some gaming songs were nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Film, Television, and Other Media, but they were lumped in a broader category. It is simply validation of our purpose and contribution to the musical landscape that video game music has its own category, says composer Stephanie Economou.
Economou is shocked to be the only woman nominated in the new category. “There are many talented female voices in the video game music scene,” she remarks. “I might be the first, but definitely won’t be the last!” The Grammy inclusion speaks not just to her work, but also of the exceptional influence of video game music. Economou explains: “It’s different from watching films or television shows – it’s more immersive. You really get to experience it.”
The player’s experience of tension and danger can be heightened through the use of layers in the music. Intensity can be added depending on whether or not they are close to beating a boss, for example. The music should be carefully crafted in such a way that it is alive and constantly changing, for instance by utilising different tempos and switching between half time and double time to create energy shifts for the audience.
Seeing that a lot of these stories are being turned into movies and television, I think we’re going to see people who were not raised playing video games pivot into these games because these narratives have such a wide reach, even if they didn’t grow up playing games or if it isn’t a part of their lives. There is something about art and storytelling that grips people, and games allow them to feel intimately involved in it.”
She wrote the music for the main Assassin’s Creed game, as well as other Assassin’s Creed titles. A lot has been written about video game music. Yoko Shimomura is well known for her film work, but she also did video game music. There are just so many brilliant female voices in video game music — Winifred Philips, Lena Raine, … I’m surprised I’m the only one out of them.”