Film Fest Gent presents the PRESS PLAY: Music in Games concert on Thursday 19 October 2023, which will bring music composed for video games to life. The music by, among others, composer Austin Wintory - known for award-winning games such as Journey, Abzû and Assassin's Creed Syndicate and who will also be hosting the concert- will be performed live by Brussels Philharmonic. Film Fest Gent is also launching a new international music award, one that celebrates the best original score for a video game and/or other interactive media: the WSA Game Music Award, a prize chosen by the public.
Game music anno 2023 has become a genre in its own right, playing a crucial role in immersing players in virtual worlds and accompanying the story. With fewer and fewer composers distinguishing between composing for movies and video games, Film Fest Gent wants to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of composers who create music for video games.
A new music award, the WSA Game Music Award, will be presented to the best original score for a video game and/or other interactive media starting from 2023. In addition, Film Fest Gent's annual music concert will also focus on music in games this year.
Wim De Witte, programme director Film Fest Gent:"The video game genre has grown into a particularly influential and dynamic medium in recent decades, which has since also paved the way for new media and AI. Composing for video games is different from composing for cinema, but Film Fest Gent and the World Soundtrack Academy have always found it crucial to highlight composers who write music for all audiovisual media. We are therefore delighted to now be able to formally recognise music for video games through a special WSAward and to dedicate our symphonic music concert this year to the genre. This will show once again how composers 'for screen' are at home in all fields, and how many musical gems can also be found among these soundtracks."
First name: Austin Wintory
The host of the PRESS PLAY: Music in Games concert - and thus the first official guest - is Austin Wintory, whose music will be performed live. His best-known works for video game music are his scores for the games Journey, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Abzû and Flow. His soundtrack for Journey made history in 2013 as the first and only video game score to receive a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. Back in 2021, he was a guest at Film Fest Gent during the WSA Film Music Days for a Composer's Talk to reflect on his career as a composer and his experiences with remuneration in the industry. Austin Wintory's work will be played, and as a composer who has also fought to give game music the necessary recognition as a genre, he will also present the concert.
Austin Wintory, composer: "Long have I admired what happens each year in Ghent at the World Soundtrack Awards, and it was a privilege to be their guest in 2021. Returning to host this concert, celebrating the wonderful art form and my many talented peers is nothing short of a dream!"
Annual composition competition revolves around game Abzû
This year, Film Fest Gent's annual composition competition - which aims to discover and give a platform to emerging film music talent worldwide - will also focus on game music.
Participants will be asked to create a new score for an excerpt from the game Abzû, developed by the studio ‘Giant Squid’ and published by 505 Games, and of which the original music was composed by Austin Wintory. Abzû is an epic descent into the depths of the sea, where players will explore beautifully rendered ocean environments with fluid swimming controls. The name references a concept from the oldest mythologies, combining the two ancient words ‘ab’, meaning ocean, and ‘zû’, meaning to know. Abzû is the ocean of wisdom.
Young international talents in film music are given an annual opportunity to enter the WSA Film Music Composition Contest and have a chance to win the Sabam Award for Best Original Composition by a Young Composer, worth €2,500. Participants are invited to show their skills as composers by writing a symphonic score for a selected excerpt from the game. A jury will select three finalists, whose compositions will be performed by Brussels Philharmonic at the annual World Soundtrack Awards Ceremony and Concert, which this year will take place on Saturday 21 October at Capitole Ghent.