Looking Back at Game Music Connect

We look back at the successes and shortcomings of the first ever international video game music symposium.

A few weeks ago, the first international game music symposium was held in London UK, bringing together some of the biggest names in video game music composition. A full day of panel talks and demonstrations from its guests was certainly engaging. But how did it fare overall?

In the Mix

Naturally, the symposium was always going to attract a lot of people who are already composers, looking to either advance or break into video game music composing. Indeed, in a quick show of hands, more than two-thirds of the sold-out Purcell Room at London's Southbank Centre defined themselves at such.

However, event founder John Broomhall and James Hannigan were also fully aware that the event was also going to attract many fans that simply appreciate games music, who would be attending just to hear their heroes speak at length about what they do.

Therefore, there was a good mix of topics and panels that appealed to both crowds, with Broomhall and fellow chair, Paul Lipson, piloting conversations towards always being interesting and never losing the attention of those who don't write music.

However, there was still plenty of opportunities for speakers to give invaluable tips and demonstrations about how they work and what to expect from working in the industry. Many composers would have found this information incredibly useful in setting themselves in better stead with regards to career advancement, meaning that more career-minded attendees weren't left unsatisfied.

The packed Purcell Room, at London's Southbank Centre.

Monotone

The only thing that was lacking in the event was variety. The tips, tricks, and opinions of the guest speakers were a little one-sided as they're all top-dogs in this particular sector. Although all well revered, there were no indie game composers to balance out the viewpoints and provide an antidote to those versed in AAA game development. This is especially noticeable as indie game music such by composers such as David Housden writer of the music for Thomas Was Alone, and Disasterpeace who worked on Fez, are making just as big a splash as the likes of Hannigan, Jason Graves, and Martin O'Donnell.

Some of the audience also directly challenged certain viewpoints expressed during the day, such as panelists saying it's better for composers to focus on one style/genre of music rather than being diverse and flexible; this suggests that the view from lower down the ladder is not as straight forward as that at the top. However, the panel members welcomed the discussion openly and made a real effort to engage attendees and engage in worthwhile discourse.

Also lacking was the viewpoint from the Asian games market: the panel was made up of a purely Western perspective. JRPG music, for example, has always had one of the staples of game music appreciation, and it just feels a little odd that there wasn't any presence of it here, or that of any of the other big studios and composers working in the Far East.

A Second Symphony?

Seeing as this is the very first dedicated video game music symposium, it was always going to be a little narrow in scope given the restrictions of being constrained to a single day and venue.

But that's not to say that the day wasn't enlightening and invigorating none the less. It was a real joy to attend; something that we hope has come across in our coverage. We really hope that Game Music Connect will return for a second year, and then some, and we'll be particularly excited to see how it will expand and grow. Not only has it proved that there is a legitimate interest for such an event, but, in the hands of Broomhall and Hannigan, it can also be a great success.

Game Music Connect took place in London UK, on September 9th 2013. All our coverage can be viewed using the "Game Music Connect" tag.

Published Sep. 24th 2013

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