The Game Awards (coming this December live from L.A. and across multiple streaming platforms) remain the video game industry’s banner event, bestowing top honors for the biggest titles and best ideas in digital game play. This year, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association has joined forces with the awards for a celebration that promises to get fans warmed up with a summer kick-off. A must-go for gamers, The Game Awards 10-Year Concert looks back at a decade of the sights and sounds of video gaming’s most enticing environments, graphics and, of course, music.
Led by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the event features music selections and suites from the best known gaming franchises – including classic titles from the past and new titles, too. The scores are played and backdropped with immersive footage to make the crowd feel like they are essentially part of the games themselves. Much like the Bowl’s sing-along events for The Sound of Music and Nightmare Before Christmas, this experience offers an engaging visual and aural blend.
Tenacious D has just been announced as a well-timed special guest on the show. The acoustic duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass just released the new song called “Video Games,” this month, about how Black has given up video games– but not really. “Except for God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Fallout 4,” he sings in his signature dramatic cheeky style.
In a statement about the track, Black and Gass share, “It’s about growing up and leaving childish things behind…. But then realizing that video games are more than just mindless toys. In fact, they can be a true expression of huge ideas that belong in the pantheon of great works of art. It’s about time someone defended the honor and integrity of this bold new horizon.”
In addition to the acoustic crooners performing with the Bowl Orchestra, the big draw at the event should be The Last of Us composer Gustavo Santaolalla, whose emotive sounds have elevated both the game and the hit HBO show it inspired. Beloved for its action, adventure and emotional narrative, The Last of Us has become a bonafide cultural phenomenon surpassing the popularity of other horror survival games.
“Creating the music for The Last of Us was a unique challenge, as the story is heart-wrenching, dark, edgy and violent,” Santaolalla tells LA Weekly exclusively. “The music needed to support the characters’ emotional journeys, while also heightening the tension during intense sequences.”
“My preparation to play music from The Last Of Us at the Hollywood Bowl demands that I reimagine its orchestration,” the composer, who has won Oscars and BAFTAs for work in films such as Brokeback Mountain and Babel, continues. “The use of instruments such as a delicate ronroco, or a haunting guitar, reflects the emotional complexity and weight of the characters. However, in addition to featuring these instruments, I will be playing with a full orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic. As such, the pieces have been adapted with orchestral arrangements by Tim Davies. The result feels both cinematic and organic, combining a powerful rendition of the main theme and a breathtaking version of ‘All Gone.’ This unique orchestration brings to life the world of The Last Of Us in a different way, but still stays truthful to its essence.”
This year games to be celebrated sonically include Arcane (Riot Games/Netflix), Diablo (Blizzard Entertainment), Elden Ring (Fromsoftware Inc./Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.), Final Fantasy® XVI (Square Enix®), God Of War (Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment), Hades (Supergiant Games), Hogwarts Legacy (Avalanche Software/Warner Bros. Games), League of Legends (Riot Games), Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games/Marvel/Sony Interactive Entertainment), Starfield (Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks), Star Wars Jedi (Respawn/Electronic Arts/Lucasfilm Games) and The Last Of Us (Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment).
Led by Grammy-winning and BAFTA and Emmy nominated composer Lorne Balfe (who wrote The Game Awards theme and will conduct December’s event), the show aims to earn a high score for those who love the cinematic quality of digital game play and who appreciate how music can deepen each player’s connection to a title’s narrative and test of skill. The Game Awards’ orchestral performances have become a popular part of each year’s program, so bringing the experience to life with LA Phil at the Bowl should push the artform forward and will likely become a new tradition.
The Game Awards (which boasts an advisory board featuring brands like Activision, AMD, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Kojima Productions, Microsoft, Nintendo, Riot Games, Rockstar Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Tencent, Ubisoft, Valve, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment) will air live and free across 40 digital video networks including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram Live and TikTok Live in December. Until the show, which got 103 million livestreams in 2022, comes to our TV and computer screens, this in-person event should engage game creators, digital influencers and fans alike.
“Video games have long held an important and unique place in culture, which continues to grow every year across all forms of entertainment, including music,” says Geoff Keighley, executive producer of The Game Awards and a well-known figure in gaming, hosting shows such as GameTrailers TV and G4tv.com in the past, as well the events at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo). “The music of games heightens all of the emotions we experience while playing them, and opens our connections to the art form. It’s really extraordinary to be able to gather so many video game franchises together for a summer evening of music at the iconic Hollywood Bowl.”
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