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Video Game Music Overview: Industry Standards, Careers, Awards

Once upon a time, the music in video games was an after-thought — small, repetitive loops of tinny electronic sounds was the norm. With some games being built to hold up to literally hundreds of hours of game play, the music scores have gotten considerably more impressive. A friend of mine was recently surprised to realize the cool song playing on her Pandora "movie sound track" list was actually from TES5: Skyrim.

I would love to see an in-depth article about working in the video game industry as a musician. Are musicians permanently on staff, or are they contract-hire? Are most scores now done with orchestras, or does electronic production still rule? To what extent do video game musicians need to learn to code? How hard is it to break in? Do the musicians also create sound-effect loops, or is that a different specialty? Are there awards for video game music? Is there cross-over between video game musicians and those who regularly work in television or movies?

  • I think this article could also lend itself to the performance of video game music by orchestras in "real" concert venues. I know that there are a few CDs and performances that have been released/occurred that brings video game music not just to gamers, but to the public as a whole – DClarke 6 years ago
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  • You could go into how video game music has become more "mainstream." What I mean by that is more and more there is a crossover between composers in both film/television and video games. Many film composers have done work for notable video games, such as: -Hans Zimmer (Inception, The Dark Knight) has contributed to Crysis 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 -Harry Gregson-Williams (Shrek, The Town) to the Metal Gear series, -Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream) to Mass Effect 3 -Henry Jackman (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain Phillips) is working on the score for next year's Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Also, in a historical achievement, Austin Wintory garnered a Grammy nomination in 2013 for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for his work on Journey. This kind of mainstream award recognition was previously unheard of for a video game soundtrack. – BradShankar 6 years ago
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