Line-up PRESS PLAY: Music in Games - The Legend of Zelda, The Last of Us, Final Fantasy and more
PRESS PLAY: Music in Games
- Abzû (Austin Wintory)
- Assassin's Creed Syndicate (Austin Wintory)
- Celeste (Lena Raine)
- Everybody's Gone to the Rapture (Jessica Curry)
- Final Fantasy VII (Nobuo Uematsu)
- God of War: Ragnarök (Bear McCreary)
- Hearthstone (Peter McConnell)
- Journey (Austin Wintory)
- L.A. Noire (Andrew & Simon Hale)
- The Last of Us (Gustavo Santaolalla)
- The Legend of Zelda (Koji Kondo)
- Medal of Honor (Michael Giacchino)
- Star Wars: Jedi Survivor (Gordy Haab & Stephen Barton)
- Date: Thursday 19 October 2023
- Location: Capitole Ghent
- Tickets now available (see below)
There’s no denying that video games are a global phenomenon with a lasting cultural impact. They immerse players in virtual worlds, taking them on a journey to distant or less distant universes. Despite the enormous success of video games in our contemporary multimedia society, their original music is far less recognised. Which is why Film Fest Gent - for the first time ever in its fifty-year history - is putting video game music front and centre during its annual concert.
PRESS PLAY: Music in Games will showcase the incredible diversity of the genre, embracing both popular franchise entries and influential indie games. Linking these two is Austin Wintory, who wrote music for arguably the most beautiful indie game of the 21st century: Journey (developed by Thatgamecompany). The adventure game proved to be a commercial and critical success with fans and professionals alike. An inspirational and emotionally rich parable, Journey leaned heavily on Wintory’s compositions that were responsive to the gameplay and guided the narrative and emotion of the player experience. Alongside music from Journey and Abzû (developed by Giant Squid Studios), another enchanting indie game, Brussels Philharmonic will perform a suite from Wintory’s score for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, the ninth instalment in Ubisoft’s beloved Assassin’s Creed franchise.
Appealing to both fans of niche and mainstream games, the concert will present scores from lesser-known titles next to scores from some of the biggest games out there, including The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo), Final Fantasy VII (Square) and God of War: Ragnarök (Santa Monica Studio). All of them are best-selling games that are imprinted in the memory of millions of people and offer a wildly creative ride through worlds different from ours. In particular, composer Koji Kondo’s iconic themes for The Legend of Zelda are central to any discussion of music in games. Kondo became an overnight sensation in 1985 when he scored Super Mario Bros. He became the first composer specifically hired to write music for video games by Nintendo.
Equally impressive is Michael Giacchino’s score for EA’s first-person shooter franchise Medal of Honor. A pure orchestral powerhouse, Giacchino’s soundtrack to the famous war games changed the landscape of game music by applying cinematic conventions, such as various themes throughout the game. The American composer - who has worked on scores for film, television and video games - opened up the world of video game scoring to a whole new audience. Giacchino is no stranger to Film Fest Gent and the World Soundtrack Awards, being a two-time WSA-winner (Discovery of the Year 2005, Film Composer of the Year 2015). Argentine musician and composer Gustavo Santaolalla is also a former WSA-winner (Discovery of the Year 2004, Public Choice Award 2006, and Best Original Song 2015). The two-time Oscar-winner wrote the score for Naughty Dog’s biggest-ever hit, The Last of Us. The post-apocalyptic and story-driven survival game ended up on most Game of the Year lists back in 2013 and was adapted by HBO into a TV series at the start of 2023. Santaolalla wrote the music for the game and its TV adaptation, using a detuned guitar for one of the themes.
The Last of Us (2013) was at the time the biggest launch of an original game since 2011’s L.A. Noire (developed by Team Bondi), a cinematic crime-fighting tale inspired by film noir and set in 1940s Los Angeles. For their moody, jazzy score, Andrew & Simon Hale were influenced by early orchestral scores from the 40s, evoking an intriguing atmosphere for the player to indulge in. PRESS PLAY: Music in Games is also presenting music from games set in two fictional universes of epic proportions. Star Wars: Jedi Survivor (developed by Respawn Entertainment), set in a "galaxy far, far away", is packed with a glorious score by Gordy Haab & Stephen Barton, while the turn-based card game Hearthstone (Blizzard Entertainment) - set within the Warcraft universe - is enhanced by intimate, playful and sometimes meditative compositions by Peter McConnell.
Perhaps not as well-known as the games above, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture by British indie developer The Chinese Room was a surprising and heart-breaking journey into a world where everybody had disappeared. The game’s director (and founder of The Chinese Room) Jessica Curry composed the music herself, which led to her winning the BAFTA Game Award for Best Music. It’s a strikingly moving score filled with melancholia and articulated sadness.
The concert also has a world-premiere in store. Lena Raine’s score for the heartfelt indie platformer Celeste (developed by Maddy Makes Games) has never been performed live and is exclusively orchestrated for PRESS PLAY: Music in Games. Five years ago, Celeste came out of nowhere and garnered an inclusive fanbase due to its honest depiction of self-doubt, anxiety, and soul-searching. The platformer is especially revered in the trans community, because its protagonist is a trans girl, something that was only acknowledged after the release of the game when one of its developers came out as trans. Raine’s evocative score mirrors the journey of the character in the game and has enthralled gamers around the world.