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While You Were Sleeping
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Austin Wintory’s soaring orchestral score for Thatgamecompany’s Journey will not be forgotten anytime soon. Not only was it a fine collection of music in its own right, it is the first video game soundtrack to be nominated for a Grammy.
We hear all the time that video games are a young medium, that they’ve still got so much untapped potential to wow us in unique and meaningful ways. And while it may seem like it’s been just another 12 months of sequels, remakes and disappointment, there have been signs that video games are maturing. Some of those baby teeth are shaking loose.
The nominations for the 55th Grammy Awards have been revealed, and for PS3 gamers there’s quite the surprise: Austin Wintory’s wonderful score for PSN title Journey has been nominated for Best Score Soundtrack.
Journey is a beautiful game. The ending was equally beautiful, but also sad and heartwarming somehow all at the same time.
Most video game-players have someone in their life — an uncle, a parent, a cousin, a co-worker — who just doesn’t play video games. Time and again, we try to poke and prod at those people, to better understand where they’re coming from and more importantly, how they view our favourite pastime/livelihood/obsession/etc.
Sound design tends to get lost when you’re enjoying a video game. By that I mean it’s the kind of element you don’t actively notice. It makes sense: if sound design is done right it’s probably best you don’t notice it. It should simply be part of a seamless whole, right? Yes, I suppose. But at the same time, it is cool to recognise the folks that work hard on this underappreciated aspect of design. In this great Gamasutra article, Journey’s sound designer Steve Johnson goes in depth on the different types of sounds used in the game, and how he managed to produce those sounds! Interesting stuff.
Another post where I talk about how great Journey is? Why not. The soundtrack of thatgamecompany’s Journey was one of the reasons why it managed to affect so many people — it perfectly represents the ‘strangeness’ of the game world, and chimes in subtly at the correct precise times. Now you can buy the soundtrack on CD and thatgamecompany is taking pre-orders now.
Over at the New York Times, where you can see more and more contributions by Kotaku writers, Yahoo News deputy editor Chris Suellentrop and I just had a conversation about video games. We had been asked by the editors there about the state of gaming, about signs of financial struggles at nearly every major video game company you could name. Just about none of them seemed to be doing as well as they used to. That was the premise.
One of the most startling things about Journey is its art. The scale of the world, the familiarity of the universe contrasted with how alien it feels. Thatgamecompany is releasing an art book, which goes in depth into the processes that go into creating a universe like Journey’s, and to go along with that announcement the team has released a short documentary. If you loved Journey, this is a must watch. The book will most likely also be a must buy.