Log in

History and Influences of Video Games

This is the transcript for the Super Mega Revolution 360 show on Dec. 10, 2014. To rewatch the program, click here.


And we’re on air! Hi, everybody! Thanks for tuning in again! We’re here every Wednesday at 9:00, and you’re listening to Super Mega Revolution 360. I’m your host and DJ, Brigid Choi. This week we’re gonna talk about History and Influences in Video Game Music—not how music is incorporated in video games or into gameplay, but just on the history and the influences.

You’ll see that I only have around fifteen videos (or exactly 15 videos) of video game music, and that’s because I have a certain time limit and a certain song limit to keep to the program, so that means I had to skip a lot of songs. I had to skip Metroid, I had to skip Zelda, Final Fantasy, DDR [Dance Dance Revolution], Donkey Konga, Beatmania, Guitar Hero… and that was awful! Because I really like Zelda, I really like Final Fantasy, and Chrono Trigger, and Pokémon—but! This isn’t about me; this is about the video games. This is about the history and influences of video games. And with the short amount of time we have, I had to leave those out.

I’m going to start off the program tonight with Space Invaders (1978, Taito). It was an arcade game, and it’s the first game to use “sound in a functional way”[1]. Some would say that the first game that had music is Pong (1972, Atari), but I don’t think it is. I wouldn’t say it’s a song that we can talk about. Here’s what they say: In Pong, there are three notes: There’s “a B-flat each time the paddle hits the ball, a B-Flat an octave lower each time the ball hits a wall, and a B natural in the higher octave each time the ball makes it past a paddle and scores a point”[2]. So, in some way, it would be a minimalist post-modern song, but since we have to debate about whether it’s a song or not, I’m just gonna start out with Space Invaders.

Space Invaders used music by speeding it with “up with the rhythm of the game”[3]. You can see that in the next video that will play. Before Space Invaders, people didn’t really care about music in video games, but after Space Invaders, they had to care about it. Space Invaders made people care about music in video games.

You don’t have to watch the whole video. You don’t have to watch the entirety of any of the videos I included, because video game music is pretty short, pretty repetitive—for a reason, because who knows how long you’ll be stuck on some level, so it has to keep on going and going. I deliberately chose speed-runs for a lot of the games that I’m showcasing tonight so that the game will go faster and the videos look shorter. Also, I’m gonna be quoting a lot of passages from awesome texts that I’ve read, and if you want to read up some, just look at my transcript (which I’m going to turn in for a final grade in my History of American Music class). That’ll have all the citations in it. You should definitely go check out these books. They’re awesome.

Without further ado, here’s our first song of the night, the Space Invaders theme.


Hey, guys, I’m back! How’d you like Space Invaders?

The next song is Pac-Man. We’re gonna keep on in the arcade games, no consoles yet. Pac-Man was developed by Namco in 1980, which makes it two years after Space Invaders. It was the “most popular game” arcade game, and it was the first game to include music in its cut-scenes[4]. Now, a cut-scene in Pac-Man and arcade games is really different from what we would think of cut-scenes today. Now, like in Kingdom Hearts, you can have the whole last thirty minutes of the game be a huge cut-scene. But in Pac-Man, the cut-scene is just the opening, where you’re introduced to the stage, and at the end when Pac-Man wins (if you win). I’m just gonna define a cut-scene as anything where the screen is moving, but you can’t move, you can’t control the player or any object on the screen. So, it’s the first game that has that, and that’s made possible because this is the first time there were dedicated soundchips called “PSGs, which were installed in arcade machines”[5]. They allowed more background music and more elaborated sound effects.

The guy who’s playing Pac-Man is pretty good, in my opinion. Also, if you’re playing the new Smash [Super Smash Bros.]. even if you haven’t played the original Pac-Man, you can recognize the theme from Pac-Man, because I think that’s his victory theme. So, here’s Pac-Man, still in arcade land.


Before I go on to any more awesome video game music, I just want to show off my T-shirt that has Toon Link in Ash Ketchum gear and then there’s Pikachu as Navi. So it’s ~pretty dorky~. I got it from TeeTurtle. You should check out TeeTurtle if you want video game graphic tees.

So, you just listened to Pac-Man, and I’m gonna talk about Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong came out in 1981. It was developed by Nintendo, and it placed Nintendo on the map. It placed Shigeru Miyamoto on the map. He’s still the head of Nintendo. He created Mario, he created Link, he created a lot of awesome video games. He’s a super cool dude.

So, Donkey Kong was really successful in the arcades. The music is described as “honky tonk”[6]. The music also has some “early film music accompanying strategies” like including “early twentieth century piano ragtime and Tin Pan Alley gestures”[7]. There’s some clear influences there! Also, the intro theme for Donkey Kong is a direct allusion to the Dragnet theme, which is a TV show in 1967. The theme became kind of like “American musical code for ‘you’re in trouble now’”[8]. So, that’s pretty cool that Japan caught onto that.

I’m not gonna talk between these next two videos. They’re just gonna be right back to back so you can get the idea without a break. When we come back, we’ll talk about Mario.


Some people would say that Donkey Kong is the first Mario game, because it does include a Mario character, and Mario is in it—or a character resembling Mario is in it. The thing is that the character jumping and the character who is up on the top saying, “Save me!” or “Help me!” … they’re not named yet, so you don’t know that this guy’s name is Mario. They call him Jumpman. And the girl isn’t Peach, she’s Pauline. So, the next game I’m gonna show you, I think, is the first Mario game. This isn’t gonna be Super Mario, so it’s not gonna have the Mario theme that we all know. That’ll be afterward.

For the first Mario video (1983, Nintendo), the intro has Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart. This was kind of a common practice, including classical pieces as intros to games. Donkey Kong Junior has the “famous opening of Bach’s Toccata [and Fugue in D minor]” and “Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata [is] the title theme to Adventures of Dr. Franken”[9][10]. These are all in MIDI [Musical Instrument Digital Interface] form, though, not orchestral pieces. It’s kind of cool, because people can recognize these tunes. There’s not really copyright licensing going on right now. You see a lot of licensed commercial music, though, now. Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker has Michael Jackson songs. This game called Motown Games’ Rap Jam didn’t even “feature music from the label but did include several rap artists as characters, including LL Cool J, House of Pain, Public Enemy, Queen Latifa, and Coolio”[11]. And then there’s Guitar Hero, which has “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple, “Thunderkiss” by Rob Zombie… a lot of other stuff. And then there’s DDR, which also has a lot of pop music. So you still see this going on, but I think it dates back all the way to classical pieces in arcade games. Also I wanted to mention that “Fall Out Boy sold 70,000 copies of their album the week after [they appeared] in Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, without ever having received any radio airplay”[12]. That just goes to show how powerful games are!

But let’s go back to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Listen to that, then right after that, I’m going to play Super Mario Bros. on the NES (consoles now), and I want you to listen to the beginning part of the Super Mario Bros. theme. It’s actually in the exact same key as Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, using a lot of the same notes! That’s a clear influence right there! Pretty cool that Mario came from Mozart. So, there you go, listen to that!


Mario! You just heard the only two Mario songs that I’m including in the show tonight. Mario’s super influential, but we only have so much time for him.

I’m just gonna briefly talk about Super Mario Bros. It came out in 1985, still on the NES. It’s “the first video game to feature constant background music written by a professional composer”[13]. I don’t know if you noticed, but in all the other songs before this, there was a time where music was playing and a time where everything was going on, but Super Mario Bros. is the first time there’s music going on while everything is happening. Awesome! This amazing, influential, memorable theme is written by Koji Kondo, who was actually the “first person hired by Nintendo for the single purpose of creating compositions”[14]. He made the Mario theme, he made the Zelda theme, he worked on Punch Out!!, which is where Little Mac is from in Super Smash Bros, the newest one, for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. But I’m going to talk about handheld systems.

The first real handheld system is the Gameboy in 1989, still using 8-bit technology, like the NES. “Gaming now … became visible in public, simply because people could play everywhere”, not just in arcades, not just at home[15]. When the Gameboy was released, Tetris was bundled in with it. Tetris was developed in 1985 by Russian mathematician Alexei Pakitnox. The composer for Tetris was Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka. “Hip” wanted to base his music off a Russian folk song for Alexei, so he based the Tetris theme of “off a Russian folk song ‘Korobeiniki’”[16]. I’m gonna play those two back to back, and it’s pretty cool to see how it’s a direct influence like that.


I guess I’m gonna talk about Smash (Super Smash Bros.) a lot, just because I really like Smash… But you can hear the Tetris theme in Brawl (Super Smash Bros. Brawl) on Luigi’s Mansion. You can also hear the Tetris “B Theme” in Luigi’s Mansion, which I think is just as cool, really.

So, Koji Kondo wasn’t a “professional musician when he started his Nintendo career”, but the guy who wrote the music for Dragon Quest was a “classically trained musician and conductor with experience in writing orchestral pieces”[17]. His name was Koichi Sugiyama. Dragon Quest (also called Dragon Warrior in North America for a while) was developed on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) in 1986. Sugiyama was also “the first video game composer to record his music with a live orchestra,” using the Tokyo strings ensemble[18]. The year after Dragon Quest’s release, there was “the first ever video game music concert” called “the Dragon Quest in Concert Family Classics Concert”[19]. I’m not going to play that, but I’m going to play the version that the Tokyo Strings Ensemble played called “Dragon Quest I Symphonic Suite” that actually came out on CD, and people bought it, because it was good music[20]. So, I’m gonna play the next two songs back to back. Also, [the video for] Dragon Quest is a speed run, so if you don’t get the story, it’s because he’s going fast!


Hey, how you guys doing? Just checking in on you. Hope everything is good so far! That was the last 8-bit that you’re going to hear in video games. I’m gonna take a second here to talk about 8-bit styles of music outside of video games.

This entire genre came out of 8-bit music called chipmusic, defined by “music composed by using, emulating, or sampling old digital sound chips”[21]. You might hear the word “8-bit” instead of the word “Chipmusic”, and “8-bit is more specific to music being made with 8-bit technology”, which I mentioned is the NES and the Gameboy (Sega probably did something too before they flopped)[22]. Some people might also call it “micromusic”, which refers to “micromusic.net”, and is usually characterized by “old school” computer sounds[23]. Micromusic.net was made in 1989. Some people also call it “bitpop” for which people use analogue synthesizers, and it’s pop, so it’s … poppier. I’m going to use the word “chipmusic,” though, because it’s “a broader term which can refer both to music made with old sound chips and bleepy sounding music made with other hardware”[24].

Chipmusic is usually in an “open-source format, [which includes] the source of the music, which can be changed or adapted by the user”[25]. It also has “open sharing [which] distinguishes parts of the chip music scene from most other music genres and scenes”[26]. Most people don’t want you to illegally share their music without paying. Chip music was started by something called “cracking” from people who called themselves hackers, crackers, or phreakers. “Cracking” means “removing copy protection from games”[27]. These hackers (they were kids, they were teenagers) thought cracking games was fun! They did it “for fun, for intellectual challenge, and for ‘street credibility’”[28]. It’s kind of like graffiti, “illegally invading corporate and public space in a search for identity or fame”[29]. These guys also used tags or nicknames (like Jay-Z). You can kind-of see a hip-hop feel from it, kind of a punk feel from it. Maybe anti-corporation ethics, because they hack into these really expensive technologies and just show off what they can do and put it online for anybody to see.

So, how it works is that usually a cracker makes a demo, which is an abbreviated form of ‘demonstration’. It shows what you can “do with a specific technology. Everything seen and heard would be generated by the computer in real time and running at full frame rate”[30]. So that means you don’t put it into a computer and edit it; it’s really just what you can do with the machine. The first demo is credited to this computer that played ‘daisy bell’ by “having an “Altair 8800 manipulating a nearby AM radio” in 1972[31]. I don’t really know what that means, but chipmusic people probably do, and that was really influential. I also want to let you know that chipmusic isn’t limited to video games and arcade games: you can also PCs, you can also use radios. After a while, people started messing around with different programs. Some people are taking samples, and there’s a lot of different styles and genres, like chip-hop or bitpop or incorporating jazz in there somehow. So, like we talked about in my American Music History class, it’s kind of like, “What is the real essence of chipmusic?” like “What is the real essence of folk music? What does folk mean?” So, there are these purists going around…

I think I’m going to leave off this whole chipmusic thing with saying that “no matter what is done with a sound chip in terms of harmony, structure, or rhythm, it is still chip music”[32]. If you play an electric guitar, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be rock just because you’re playing an electric guitar. You can play an electric guitar with blues music. But this is really defined by the technology.

I know this is going on for a really long time, so I’m going to play the next song. It’s by Anamanguchi. They wrote the score for the Scott Pilgrim video game. I wanted to include this—this specific band, this specific song—because a lot of my friends have seen Scott Pilgrim. It came out in 2010, it’s pretty recent. Just letting you know that chipmusic isn’t just defined by and limited by the Nintendo Entertainment System. It’s still going on right now. And I think this is really important to mention, because it’s video games influencing and creating, pretty much, an entire genre outside of video games. Okay, I’ll shut up.


So, we’re out of the land of 8-bit and into the land of 16-bit with the Sega Mega Drive in 1988 (there’s also a thing called the Super Nintendo with 16-bit, but I’m not gonna talk about that right now). 16-bit has this FM chip that has a “richer sound”[33]. The—some would say this was a problem—is that it “caused no significant change in song structures” and people still relied on the conventions of 8-bit songs and 8-bit games[34]. So, you could say there was an evolution in sound quality but not in song writing.

The “typical [Sega] Genesis or [Sega] Mega Drive sound … used progressive-rock stylistic traits”[35]. And when I think of Sega and prog rock, I think of Sonic. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you play Smash, and a song comes on, and it’s got guitars, and you know it’s either Sonic or it’s Captain Falcon.


So, you have to understand that in the 90s and on, a lot of stuff is going on, and technology is advancing really, really quickly. The internet is a thing. It’s probably mainly the internet that’s making everything go by so fast. I’m going to just use one song to pretty much define the one awesome influential thing that happened in the 90s. Maybe at this time, not a lot of influential stuff was going on, because 1) a lot of stuff has already happened, and 2) franchises are becoming a thing. We made the first Pokémon, now we’ll just keep making Pokémons that follow the basic structure with the basic same music.

The 90s brought the CD-ROM. Arcades are going away, PCs are coming in, the internet’s being a thing, and the internet brings Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG). More recent ones include RuneScape, MapleStory, ArcheAge. The first one is Never Winter Nights (AOL, 1991) (not the Neverwinter Nights developed by Bioware in 2002). Also, the internet also brings online playable first person shooters like Quake (id Software, 1996). Quake is kind-of weird, because the music is made by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Kind of a weird coincidence, but also an important influence!

In 1994, Sony has the PlayStation, their first console. It runs on 32-bits and uses a CD-ROM. It’s cheaper than Sega’s console that’s out (I think it’s the second last console before they flop and Sega never makes another console). It’s easier to program software for, so there’s a lot more games. The CD-ROMs have MP3s, so that makes a lot richer of a sound, there’s more space to do more cool stuff, you can put in live instruments now, you can put in vocals and dialogue, more than just Mario saying, “Let’s go!” and “It’s me!” Two years later, in 1996, Nintendo has the N64 (Nintendo 64), which has 64-bits but is still in a cartridge, which means it still uses MIDI technology for their music. So, there’s not as many cool things you can do as with MP3s, and a lot of instruments just don’t sound as good. But Koji Kondo pulls off in the end by making the great masterpiece, Ocarina of Time. What a man!

There’s so much more to say, but we’re talking about video game music history! We’re not how awesome Ocarina of Time is! We’re gonna go back to the PlayStation!

From 1996-1998, depending on what you count as a full live orchestral score, there was “the first video game with a full live orchestral score”[36]. You can say it’s the Lost World: Jurassic Park (Dreamworks, 1997), which is “the first original game soundtrack to consist entirely of a live orchestral score”[37]. Or you can say it’s Heart of Darkness (Amazing studios, 1998) because it was recorded earlier, but the game was released after Lost World. Or you can say that it’s Sakura Taisen (Sega, 1996), because it’s the “first game to feature a live orchestra, just not throughout the whole game”[38]. I’m going to include Lost World (on PlayStation) for the show, because it’s “Dreamworks’ first game soundtrack release” and it’s “one of the few movie license games to use solely original compositions” and “the score is composed and conducted specifically for the game by Michael Giacchino”, who does the soundtrack Lost, he does the soundtrack for Call of Duty (and I think Modern Warfare), he did The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Up. He’s very much still active, and he’s awesome[39]. I didn’t know that he did video games. I think people are familiar with his music, so I’m going to include this.


Almost done with our show … there’s only two more left… So, I summarized all of the 90s with Jurassic Park. Some would say that’s appropriate…

Remember when I mentioned Dragon Quest earlier? 1987, the “Dragon Quest in Concert Family Classics Concert” which was the first ever video game music concert? Well, things finally caught on outside of Japan in 2003 when there was the “first live performance of video game music… outside of Japan” at GamesCon in Germany, the biggest video game convention, arguably[40]. The concert was called “Symphonisches Spielemusikkonzert”[41]. Very German… that was a tradition at GamesCon for a while, but they kind of just stopped. In 2005, there was the first performance of Video Games Live at L.A. by the L.A. philharmonic. Video Games Live is still around today. They’re still touring. They took over the GamesCon gig. I think they came to Atlanta this summer. They update their playlist every year depending on the new games that are out and other stuff. I actually played a Video Games Live arrangement in twelfth grade. I was playing violin. I guess it was arranged so that twelfth graders could play it…

The song I chose from video games live is a Sonic arrangement, because we’ve already covered Sonic, so you can see how that’s changed and how it’s gotten better. Video Games Live also does a lot of cool things, like they did an opera version of the Russian Tetris song, “Korobeiniki.” You should definitely check them out, they’re pretty cool.

Just want to mention before letting you go to Video Games Live that in2008 there was “the first video game music concert which was transmitted live via radio”[42]. It was called “Symphonic Shades – Hülsbeck in concert,” and it was “dedicated to the music of the German composer Chris Hülsbeck”[43]. I don’t really know any of his games though. I checked him out and didn’t really recognize anything. But that’s cool! It was on the radio! Also something’s that’s pretty cool and what I think people should recognize is that when these orchestras are playing video game music, then a lot of young people are going to orchestra concerts and young people are listening to classical music. So, old people like that kind of stuff, you know? Something that they can get together and talk about, you know…?


This next song is gonna be my last song of the night. Thank you so much for staying with me! I’m going leave the show with one last success in video game music history.

The song is called “Baba Yetu,” from Sid Meier’s Civilazation IV by Firaxis Games. It was the first video game composition to win a Grammy! In 2011, it won “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)”[44]. They just made the category for “Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television, or other Visual Media”. And then a video game got on! I’m not gonna include this, but the year after, 2012, there was the first video game soundtrack to be nominated, Journey, develop by thatgamecompany. Really pretty game, don’t really like the story and I don’t really like the gameplay—but it’s super pretty. It was nominated for “Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media,” but it lost to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo[45]. Now, for “Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media,” they took out “Other Visual Media”! So now it’s just “Motion Picture and Television”! So that kicks out video games to only the other stuff that says “Visual Media”. I don’t really think the Grammys like video games winning things… but maybe, you know! Maybe we can show ‘em!

Thanks for listening! I know I left out a lot, and I know some people are probably mad at me, but I have a time limit and I have a song limit, so hopefully you’ll bear with me. Hopefully you learned a lot of things! Have a good night.


Cited Sources

Anders Carlsson. “Chip Music: Low-Tech Data Music Sharing.” In From Pac-Man to Pop Music. Burlington: Ashgate Publiching Company, 2008.

Jessica Conditt. “Journey Soundtrack Loses Grammy to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Joystiq, 2013. http://www.joystiq.com/2013/02/11/journey-soundtrack-loses-grammy-to-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo/.

Karen Collins. Game Sound. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008.

Melanie Fritsch. “History of Video Game Music.” In Music and Game: Perspectives on a Popular Alliance, 11–40. Berlin: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 2013.

Neil Lerner. “Mario’s Dynamic Leaps: Musical Innovations (and the Specter of Early Cinema) in Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros.” In Music in Video Games, 1–29. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2013.


[1] Melanie Fritsch, “History of Video Game Music,” in Music and Game: Perspectives on a Popular Alliance (Berlin: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 2013), 13.
[2] Neil Lerner, “Mario’s Dynamic Leaps: Musical Innovations (and the Specter of Early Cinema) in Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros.,” in Music in Video Games (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2013), 1.
[3] Melanie Fritsch, “History of Video Game Music,” 13.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Neil Lerner, “Mario’s Dynamic Leaps: Musical Innovations (and the Specter of Early Cinema) in Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros.,” 3.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid., 5.
[9] Ibid., 11.
[10] Karen Collins, Game Sound (Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008), 115.
[11] Ibid., 112.
[12] Ibid., 116.
[13] Melanie Fritsch, “History of Video Game Music,” 19.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid., 20–21.
[16] Ibid., 20.
[17] Ibid., 19.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Anders Carlsson, “Chip Music: Low-Tech Data Music Sharing,” in From Pac-Man to Pop Music (Burlington: Ashgate Publiching Company, 2008), 153.
[22] Ibid., 159.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Ibid.
[25] Ibid., 153.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid., 154.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Ibid., 155.
[31] Ibid., 156.
[32] Ibid., 154.
[33] Melanie Fritsch, “History of Video Game Music,” 23.
[34] Ibid.
[35] Ibid.
[36] Ibid., 27.
[37] Ibid.
[38] Ibid.
[39] Ibid.
[40] Ibid., 35.
[41] Ibid.
[42] Ibid., 36.
[43] Ibid.
[44] Ibid., 37.
[45] Jessica Conditt, “Journey Soundtrack Loses Grammy to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Joystiq, 2013, http://www.joystiq.com/2013/02/11/journey-soundtrack-loses-grammy-to-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo/.

Updated Portfolio

I've updated my portfolio! Please take a look here. Constructive criticism is totally welcome! Or any connections or pieces of advice. My goal is to work for Supergiant Games, and I know it's gonna take a lot of time and work to get there. Thanks a lot!

Original Music!

After the Creative Loafing internship, I've sort of changed my mind about journalism. I've been really into video game music lately, and I do miss writing music, so... I've decided to give video game music composition a shot. If you could take a look at my stuff and give my some constructive criticism or some positive encouragement, I would be SO appreciative. Also if you want to share any connections you have, I'm all ears!
Atlanta’s spot on the international video game map depends on whom you talk to, but thanks to a popular computer game created by local developers, that could change. Earlier this year, Hi-Rez Studios in Alpharetta released SMITE, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game that’s brought the city into gaming world’s conscious.

“Atlanta and Georgia is emerging as a player, as far as video games,” says Todd Harris, co-founder and COO of Hi-Rez Studios. “There’s a lot of things it has going in its favor, like really good talent coming out of Georgia Tech and Savannah College of Art and Design.”

SMITE launch tournament in March sold out at Center Stage with a $200,000 prize pool. Seemingly in response, Red Bull sponsored a StarCraft tournament at Center Stage in July.

“We’re seeing momentum,” Harris says. “I think we influenced that a little bit. They saw that there was an appetite for it. I think people were like, ‘Why is there not a lot of this in Atlanta? We got Dragon Con, and it’s a big city, and people can get there.’”

Like other MOBAs, SMITE is a three-lane highway tower defense game with an end objective. Its main difference to other MOBAs is its accessibility, with a third person camera, familiar god characters, and a more casual atmosphere.

SMITE was received well last year when it was previewed at gaming trade shows PAX Prime in Seattle, PAX East in Boston, and gamescom in Germany. At such trade shows, hundreds of game developers gather to preview upcoming games to fans. As the March 2014 release date for SMITE loomed closer, the Hi-Rez higher-ups played with the idea of giving Atlanta its time to shine.

Hi-Rez tested the idea of building a stronger video game community in Atlanta last October at the Southern Interactive Entertainment and Game Expo (SIEGE) in Marietta, hosted by the Georgia Game Developers Association (GGDA). The resulting SMITE tournament was a resounding success. In a recent press release, Hi-Rez Studios announced a new tournament in January 2015 at a venue twice the size of Center Stage Theater: Cobb Energy Centre. The prize pool is starting at $600,000.

“We thought, ‘Hey, what if we tried doing [a tournament] in Atlanta and kind of built this scene here around e-sports?’” Harris says. “Why isn’t anybody doing that? It’d be right in our backyard!  It’d be easy to get the players here, because of Delta and the airport!”

The Atlanta gaming community is fully embracing SMITE. Georgia Tech’s GameFest and MomoCon included SMITE in their rosters this year. The Marietta gaming bar Battle and Brew live-streamed the SMITE launch tournament. More and more game developers are moving to the greater Atlanta area, because of the low living expenses compared to other video game-crazed cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Austin.

The Atlanta gaming community, and the growing numbers of students in Georgia Tech and SCAD who are pursuing careers in video games, are keeping the momentum going. According to gamedevmap and the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the number of video game development companies in the greater Atlanta area has doubled from 13 to 26 in the past nine years. MARTA is also boarding the game train with its SMITE advertisements on busses and stations that mention that the game is “Made in Atlanta, Launching Worldwide.” If Atlanta isn’t internationally recognized as a video game hub in the next couple months, it will be by the time the January 2015 SMITE tournament begins.

Die-hard gamers won’t have to wait till 2015, however. On Saturday, at the Cobb Energy Center, there will be the SMITE North American Pro League Kick Off LAN, where four of the top teams to emerge from the 10-week qualifier season will compete. The prize pool is set at $50,000.

The big money is leading to even bigger moves for the Hi-Rez team. After finalizing their servers in China, Hi-Rez Studios plans to expand to the other big e-sports hubs of the world: South Korea, Russia, and Southeast Asia.

So, when will e-sports be as big as “real sports?” One look at the competition’s viewership compared to the ratings of the 2013 NBA Finals offers a glimpse. According to viewership data provided by NBA and Riot Games, the 2013 League of Legends Season 3 World Championship had 32 million viewers worldwide, whereas the NBA Finals (Game 7) had ratings of 26.3 million on ABC. The future of video games is now, and Atlanta’s already a part of it.

With additional reporting by Cass Lanford. Article first published as "Made in Atlanta" for Creative Loafing.

The full interview with Todd Harris is below.

The full uncensored interview with Todd HarrisCollapse )

Notable Acts of Week July 31 - Aug 6

Every week for my summer internship with Creative Loafing, I go through the schedules of every major venue in Atlanta and compile them into one big file. I come across surprisingly awesome bands and dishearteningly awful bands. Here's the musical acts to note this week.

Clairy Brown & The Bangin' Rackettes
Genre: Soul
When: Aug. 6 @ The Earl
Why?: The singing isn't as good as I want it to be, but I think it's really cool that an all-girls 9-piece soul band still exists

Times Square Timebomb
Genre: Pop Punk
When: Aug. 1 @ Vinyl
Why?: I think they have potential. Not quite original enough, but they're good at what they're doing so far

Full Net
Genre: Pop Punk
When: Aug. 1 @ Vinyl
Why?: I think his vocals are pretty spot on, and the instrumentals are good and fun. :)

R. Garcia and the Nerd Parade
Genre: Alternative
When: Aug. 7 @ The Star Bar
Why?: It's an ORIGINAL ACT that's not fucking TERRIBLE and it's cute and poppy and awesome

Sanction the Radio
Genre: Punk
When: Aug. 1 @ Vinyl
Why?: They play pretty good punk but they look like normal white people?? i'm so confused lol

Shy Hunters
Genre: Indie pop
When: Aug. 14 @ The Earl
Why?: Idk... I like her sound, but I don't realllly dig it...

Grant Reynolds
Genre: Folk
When: Aug. 12 @
Why?: The singer isn't that great, but the guitarwork is
I shouldn’t have to say this. I shouldn’t be so looked down on or so intensely questioned for liking one specific band. But since no one can GIVE IT A REST, I’ve spelled out exactly why I can work for the music section of a newspaper, be a Music major, and aspire to be a video game music composer—and like One Direction.


They started on The X-Factor. They didn’t win, but they got pretty damn far. They didn’t get big because they’re attractive and rich and talentless (even though they are attractive). In fact, most, if not all, of them were poor before One Direction was even a thing. They got big because of their TALENT, not because they could afford the best songwriters and the best producers and the best managers. If you don’t believe me, listen to them a-cappella. They STILL SOUND GOOD, IF NOT BETTER.

Also, who the hell cares that they don’t write their own songs? They didn’t go on The X-Factor to be songwriters. They wanted to be singers. You don’t criticize an actor for not writing his or her own lines. That’s just not fair and honestly doesn’t make that much sense as criticism. And if you’re still ragging on them for not writing their own songs, check out their newest album Midnight Memories, because they actually DID co-write some of those songs, and that’s THE STRONGEST ALBUM THEY HAVE YET.

On the same line, who the hell cares that they don’t play their own instruments? Are you gonna criticize Flea for not singing? Are you gonna criticize Beyoncé for not playing piano? No! That would be absurd! Those guys don’t WANT to sing or play guitar, and they’re perfectly happy doing what they do. And anyway, NIALL PLAYS GUITAR DURING THE CONCERTS AND IN SOME OF THE RECORDINGS. Why are you gonna hate a band because of some stupid reason that DOESN’T MAKE SENSE when you haven’t even DONE YOUR RESEARCH?


They’re so silly and funny. You can’t believe how happy you can get when you listen to silly pop songs instead of sad or angry rock/alternative/metal/singer-songwriter songs. You’ll laugh because they’re laughing, or you’ll laugh because they’re just being so incredibly SILLY, whether that’s Louis saying that a man has 27 tattoos or that’s Harry’s screaming like a crazy man. Sometimes, it’s good to hear lyrics about humanity or the perils of the world, but sometimes it’s good to just be happy.

They also obviously love their fans SO MUCH. They ADORE them and always, always thank them so much for what they’ve done. If you don’t believe me, watch the One Direction movie.

They’re also really important as pop icons, because they don’t talk about perfect girls or sexy girls, and pressure girls into being whatever way for men. They say, “Hey, you have insecurities, and that’s okay. I still like you.” That is REALLY IMPORTANT FOR GIRLS TO HEAR, especially when SO MANY GIRLS ARE DEPRESSED because they’re trying to fit the culturally-approved standard of beauty.


Now that those reasons are out of the way, there are a couple points that I need to make:


A lot of pop music is dry and boring and repetitive, or it’s catchy just so people will spend money on it. But some pop music is actually good, ie. Lorde, Of Mice and Men, ONE DIRECTION. I’ll admit that some songs on their first two albums are unoriginal and too catchy, and I’ll also let you know that I’ve unchecked those songs on my iTunes. The point is, it’s not BAD to like pop music, or a pop artist, or a few pop songs, ESPECIALLY if you like a lot of other genres, too. There’s no such thing as “good music”. There’s music you like and music you don’t like.


If you don’t want anyone to so HARSHLY and RUDELY make fun of you for something you LIKE and that makes you HAPPY, then DON’T DO IT TO OTHER PEOPLE. You probably like a band or an artist that other people may make fun of you for, for whatever (unjust) reason. DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO MAKE FUN OF YOU FOR LIKING THAT BAND OR ARTIST? NO. TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED, FOOL.

If I have ever judged you harshly for liking a band, then I’m truly sorry. I must have made you feel just as hurt as people, including my FRIENDS, have made me feel for liking One Direction. I shouldn’t have done that, and I never will again.


Best and Worst: July 24-31

Every week for my summer internship with Creative Loafing, I go through the schedules of every major venue in Atlanta and compile them into one big file. I come across surprisingly awesome bands and dishearteningly awful bands. Here's the musical acts to note this week.

The Bama Gamblers
Genre: Southern Rock
When: July 26 @ Dixie Tavern
Why?: This is the best southern rock that I've heard in a while. The singer is really strong. It feels like Tom Petty's band with Eddie Vedder as the vocalist?

Genre: Post-rock (not PUNK as it says on their FB genre??)
When: Sept. 11 @ The Masquerade
Why?: When I'm in the mood for post-rock, this works

Royal Thunder
Genre: Southern Rock
When: July 25 @ The Drunken Unicorn
Why?: Strong voice, strong acoustic guitar, eerie sound, awesome girl

Spencer Day
Genre: Pop
When: Sept. 6 @ The Loft
Why?: He's a young musician with a croony voice and he uses an eyebrow pencil and his music video has a sexualized girl dancer while he's just there singing sleazily and you can tell he thinks he's the shit UGH

Genre: Pop rock
When: Sept. 7 @ The Loft
Why?: Ugh it's like OneRepublic pop rock BULLSHIT ughghgh

Genre: Pop sock
When: Nov. 9 @ Center Stage
Why?: More pop rock BULLSHIT why do you keep touching your chest stop trying to be jason mraz

Genre: Power metal?
When: July 26 @ The Drunken Unicorn
Why?: I can't tell if this is a joke or not? Metal vocals with atl punk guitars? It's so weird?? Hahahaha it just makes me laugh

All Them Witches
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
When: July 30 @ The Drunken Unicorn
Why?: For people who like this music, this is really good. I like what I hear until I get tired of it, which is usually my opinion with rock that drags on, or Pink Floyd, or something

I'm not going to do "Worst"s anymore, because I don't want to rag on other people's music tastes.

John Powell - How to Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is more emotional than its predecessor, so, of course, it calls for a more emotional soundtrack. There are so many tear-jerker moments in the second installment of the How To Train Your Dragon trilogy – don’t worry, I won’t mention the bigger spoilers – and listening to the music of said moments brings back the tears from the movie theater.

John Powell, composer of How to Train Your Dragon 2 as well as other DreamWorks Animation films like Rio and Happy Feet, won his first Academy Award nomination for the score of How to Train Your Dragon. To top that score, Powell has added more emotional songs, more beautiful Celtic-inspired motives, and more power to the songs of the new antagonist Drago. Hiccup’s mother Valka, another new character, brings with her a motive with Irish folk influences. The scene where this motive is introduced is one of those previously mentioned tear-jerker moments: Hiccup’s father Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler, a.k.a. The Phantom of the Opera) sings his wedding song to Valka after missing her for two decades. The song, “For the Dancing and the Dreaming,” starts off timid and then quickly evolves into a merry jig. Those tears will transform from sad tears to happy ones.

Drago inspires a harsh, dark sound that was missing from the first How to Train Your Dragon. While the antagonist of the first film is the dragon-phobic society of Berk, the antagonist of the sequel is a huge, strong man who captures our beloved dragons to build a dragon army. This powerful man requires his own powerful songs. “Meet Drago” and “Battle of the Bewilderbeast” explode with trumpets and fast, angry strings. These darker, louder songs carry an awesome strength that weighs down the score in a way that How to Train Your Dragon doesn’t.

The emotion of the sad moments, the grace of the Celtic tunes, and the strength of the darker songs complement each other surprisingly well. Drago’s songs somehow include essences of Celtic music within its dark grit, and familiar, merry motives weave in and out of every song on the soundtrack. It is the mixture of emotion, grace, and strength that defines the excellent soundtrack for How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Article first as "Music Review: John Powell - 'How to Train Your Dragon 2: Music from the Motion Picture'" on Blogcritics.org

Best and Worst: July 17-23

Every week for my summer internship with Creative Loafing, I go through the schedules of every major venue in Atlanta and compile them into one big file. I come across surprisingly awesome bands and dishearteningly awful bands. Here's the musical acts to note this week.

Gardens & Villa
Genre: Alt-pop
When: Oct. 2 @ The Earl
Why?: Idk they're just good and catchy

Twin Shadow
Genre: Alt-pop
When: Oct. 19 @ Terminal West
Why?: He's sort of fun. I like his song writing

Alex Gordon
Genre: Easy Listening Solo Electric Bass Guitar
When: July 22 @ Churchhill Grounds Jazz Cafe
Why?: Because it's cool that he can do stuff with bass

Julian Casablancas+The Voidz
Genre: Experimental Alternative Electronic
When: Oct. 22 @ The Masquerade
Why?: I fucking love The Strokes, and I hate that I sort of like this new weird shit, but I'm putting it under "Honorable Mention" because he hasn't even released his full sound yet??

What am I basing this off? What are my tastes in music? Here's what I was listening to between checking out shows online:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Sacrilege
Final Fantasy VII Piano Collection - Fighting
Super Smash Bros. Melee: Smashing ... Live! - Green Greens
The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony - Gerudo Valley
The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony - Twilight Princess Symphonic Movement
Final Fantasy IX Piano Collection - Frontier Village Dali
Super Smash Brothers. Melee: Smashing ... Live! - Depths of Brinstar
Final Fantasy X Piano Collections - Rikku's Theme
Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks - Main FFVII Theme (orchestrated)
Final Fantasy X Piano Collections - To Zanarkand
Super Smash Bros. Melee: Smashing... Live! - Rainbow Cruise
Piano Collections Kingdom Hearts/Field & Battle - Medley of Conflict
Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collection - Ending Theme
Kingdom Hearts Piano Collections - 2nd Mov. : Kairi - Andante Sostenuto
Kingdom Hearts Piano Collections - Concert Paraphrase on "Dearly Beloved"
Final Fantasy VII Piano Collection - Rufus' Welcoming Ceremony
Kingdom Hearts Piano Collections - Missing You ~ Namine
Final Fantasy VII Piano Collection - Ahead on Our Way
Super Smash Bros. Melee: Smashing ... Live! - Jungle Garden
Final Fantasy VII Piano Collection - J-E-N-O-V-A
Kingdom Hearts Piano Collections - Traverse Town
Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collection - Blue Fields
The Legend of Zelda - Twilight Princess Official Soundtrack Volume 1 - Twilight Princess Orchester (Medley)
Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collection - Eyes on Me
The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony - Ballad of the Goddess from Skyward Sword
Piano Collections Kingdom Hearts / Field & Battle - Sinister Sundown
Final Fantasy IX Piano Collection - The Place I'll Return to Someday
Final Fantasy X-2 Piano Collections - Seal of the Wind ~ The Three Trails ~
Final Fantasy VII Piano Collection - One Winged Angel
The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony - THe Legend ofZelda 25th Anniversary Medley
Final Fantasy IX Piano Collection - You're Not ALone!
Final Fantasy VII Piano Collection - Cosmo Canyon
Final Fantasy VII Piano Collection - Cinco de Chocobo
Kingdom Hearts Piano Collections - Hand In Hand
The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony - THe Legend of Zelda Main Theme Medley
Super Smash Bros. Melee: Smashing ... Live! - Smash Bros. Great Medley
Kingdom Hearts Piano Collectiosn - 3rd Mov. : Riku - Scherzo E Intermezzo
Final Fantasy IX Piano Collection - Vamo 'alla Flamenco
Final Fantasy VII Piano Collection - Tifa's Theme
The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony - Great Fairy's Fountain Theme
Piano Collections Kingdom Hearts / Field & Battle - Wonderland's Surprises
Piano Collections Kingdom Hearts / Field & Battle - A Very Small Wish - Monstrous Monstro
Final Fantasy XI Piano Collections - Ronfaure
Emancipator - Maps
The Flashbulb - Going Brown Again
Anamanaguchi - Airbrushed (RAC Remix)
Gorillaz - Amarillo
Julian Casablancas - Glass
Lymbyc Systym - Falconer
Ronald Jenkees - Clutter
The Glitch Mob - Fortune Days
Lymyc Systym - Narita
Yppah - Never Mess with Sunday
Final Fantasy VIII - The Man with the Machine Gun (Orchestrated)

I won't be logging what I listen to anymore, because it slows me down too much at work.

Best and Worst: July 10 - July 16

Every week for my summer internship with Creative Loafing, I go through the schedules of every major venue in Atlanta and compile them into one big file. I come across surprisingly awesome bands and dishearteningly awful bands. Here's the musical acts to note this week.

Courtney Barnett & San Fermin
Genre: Indie Pop
When: October 16 @ The Loft
Why?: Sort of anti-pop, she's pretty silly.

Genre: Electronic/DJ
When: Not anytime soon, I don't think. I found him when I was trying to find Suspect B
Why?: I don't usually like electronic/DJ stuff, but this stuff is chill

Time Pilot
Genre: Alternative Rock
When: July 10 @ The Masquerade
Why?: They're the kind of ambient alternative rock like Houses that I really dig

Megan Jean Band & The KFB
Genre: Shit
When: July 10 @ Smith's Olde Bar

The Jauntee
Genre: Shit
When: July 10 @ Smith's Olde Bar
Why?: This is also shit. Experimental bullshit. I'm glad these guys and the above band are touring together, because they can be shit together.

What am I basing this off? What are my tastes in music? Here's what I was listening to between checking out shows online:
One Direction - Little Things
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Man
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fancy
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Dudley
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito (Live from YYY's Bunker Studio)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Despair (Acoustic Version)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Little Shadow (acoustic)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Wedding Song (Acoustic Version
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Slave
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Wedding Song
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Soft Shock (acoustic)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mysteries
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Under the Earth
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Tick
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Warrior
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Dull Life
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Y Control
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - These Paths
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Pin
The Strokes - One Way Trigger
The Strokes - Take It Or Leave It
The Strokes - Reptilia
The Strokes - Under Control
The Strokes - Taken For A Fool
The Strokes - I Can't Win
The Strokes - 80's Comedown Machine
The Strokes - Modern Girls & Old Fashion Men
The Strokes - Last Nite
The Strokes - You Only Live Once
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cold LIght
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Turn Into
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Hysteric (acoustic)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Rich
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Sacrilege
Arctic Monkeys - Old Yellow Bricks
Arctic Monkeys - Teddy Picker
Arctic Monkeys - If You Were There, Beware
Arctic Monkeys - Do Me A Favour
Arctic Monkeys - D Is For Dangerous
Arctic Monkeys - Brianstorm
Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent
Arctic Monkeys - The Bad Thing
Arctic Monkeys - Balaclava
Metric - Gimme Sympathy
Metric - Youth Without Youth
One Direction - Best Song Ever
One Direction - Everything About You

Latest Month

December 2014


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Taylor Savvy