A Beginner’s Guide to the Video Game Music Composition and Remixing Community

Over the years, video games have developed into a multi-billion dollar industry. Today’s games involve millions of hours of work and take years to produce. The music contained in these games, as well as older games, is an equal work of art that is often overlooked. Whereas movie soundtracks have been praised for years, until 2005 video game music was largely a curiosity outside Japan. It is only recently that concerts consisting solely of video game music, such as Play! A Video Game Symphony and Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy, have sold thousands of tickets around the world.

Some games today are even marketed on the strength of their soundtracks’ primary composers.  For example, the 2008 Xbox 360 game Lost Odyssey advertised in its pre-release commercials that its music was composed by legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu.  Unfortunately, however, many game music composers and artists remain underappreciated compared to those involved with movie soundtracks.

With the increasing popularity of the Internet in the late 1990s, an online video game music community began to form.  One of the first sites, VGMusic, offered and continues to offer strict MIDI sequences, largely of older (NES and SNES) consoles.  Contributors to VGMusic sequence songs and then submit them for the world to listen.

By 1998, the community consisted largely of independent sites offering MIDI and Impulse Tracker (*.it) files. Some of these songs, which began to move towards “remixing” as it is known today, were mashups of 20 minutes of music from an entire game’s soundtrack.  Searching for songs was a tedious task, because there were no one-stop sources for such remixes.

In 1999, OverClocked ReMix, a site that limited its postings through strict juding, was formed.  Still popular today, the site has received contributions from hobbyists, aspiring artists, and professional composers such as Jeremy Soule.  A panel of judges evaluates and votes on each submitted song, and at the time of this writing, fewer than 5% of submissions are posted.

Compos, or online competitions that challenge participants to produce the best songs, started to appear around 2000, but took a hit when the heavily vaunted Ultima Eternity competition folded. Later, live instrument recordings became popular, leading to the creation of  Dwelling of Duels, a competition where at least one live instrument is required in a song.  Each month, competitors are required to interpret a piece from a specific game or series, and members of the popular game music forum The Shizz vote for the winners.

Also popular early in the decade was VGMix, which was perhaps the first site that allowed composers to post music without judging.  VGMix lived through three different iterations, but much of its music has been lost as a result of security violations.  As of this writing, the site is currently in a state of disrepair, with many of its features broken and registration disabled.

One major contributor that helped bring a great deal of attention to game music was the Mid Atlantic Gamers’ Festival, or MAGFest.  While MAGFest also involves thousands of people playing games with each other in a huge LAN party, as well as events geared towards game development and appreciation, game music has taken an increasingly larger role in the festival lately.  Professional composers have attended, and OverClocked ReMix judges have convened a panel to discuss the site and its community.

The online game music remixing community has grown so large and has such a long history that participants have written hundreds of songs, moved from middle school to graduate school, and obtained jobs in the music industry.  There is at least one instance where two remixers met through the Internet and later married.

As the game music community moves forward, several programmers and composers have teamed up to create a new resource, remixSite, which allows anyone to post video game originals or remixes for feedback.  Because songs on remixSite are versioned, contributors can track their submissions across versions and help each other improve their musical abilities.  This process of incremental improvement is hoped to move the game music community to even greater popularity and visibility.

As more and more companies use live instruments in their recordings and spend more production resources on games’ soundtracks, the future looks bright for game music.  Anyone who has even a passing interest in gaming would be well-served to browse through what the game music community has to offer.

Why the Online Community Loves to Play Games

What is it about today’s modern society that has us more eager than ever to make use of the internet? The integration of the internet into our society has opened doors for people on a number of different levels. From adding simplicity to every day tasks, to enhancing leisure time, the internet has created a new edge for the way in which we function on a daily basis. One of the most common contemporary hobbies is that of online gaming. People truly enjoy utilizing the internet as an outlet to play games, interact with peers, and let loose into a world of fantasy that continues to grow steadily as the internet becomes more and more of a staple in our society.

There is no doubt about the fact that people love to play games online. There is a significant difference between online gaming and every other form of gaming. When you play games on the internet, you are automatically exposing yourself to thousands of games that are all readily accessible at your fingertips. There are countless online games websites to easily access. Each of these websites puts you in touch with a huge spectrum of pre-categorized online games that can be played with simplicity. When you play games online, there is no limit to how many times you can play each game or how many games you can play. All of your favorite games are available online, for free, twenty four hours a day, seven days per week. With so much simplicity combined with such a profound force of amusement, it comes as no surprise that the hobby of online gaming is skyrocketing and becoming a staple amongst people living in our technologically savvy era.

Some of the most popular categories to play games in when you immerse yourself in an online database include adventure games, escape games, and memory games. People love to play adventure games because this category offers a limitless amount of exploration and fantasy. People can truly escape the harsh reality of every day life when they immerse themselves in adventure games. No matter how old or young people are, when they play games from this category, they can be whoever they want and take it upon themselves to put themselves in a completely different scenario from that of reality. With hundreds of amusing adventure games to choose from online, there is never a dull moment. When you take the time to enjoy escape games, you get the same effect. You can escape reality without every having to leave the convenience of your own home. Memory games are a fantastic choice for anyone wanting to play games online because they keep the mind sharp and alert by implementing the factor of critical thinking skills into the realm of personal amusement.

No matter what it is that people find most appealing about using the internet to play games, there are several factors that cannot be overlooked. The internet poses no limitations on age. There are games that appeal to old and young, alike, so the internet is an extremely inclusive place to turn for fun for the whole family. Additionally, when you play games online you immerse yourself in a very social and interactive environment. Playing games online is always free and always an available option when you want to have fun from home.

The internet has the most extensive selection of options when you want to play games for free, at your convenience.

The IPAQ Rx1950: HP’s Answer to PDA Gaming Community?

Hewlett Packard’s latest contribution to the Pocket PC arena (and let’s face it– to the PDA gaming community) is the iPAQ rx1950.

High-end PDA gamers may wish to set their sights elsewhere.

Its 300-Mhz Samsung processor is touted as XScale compatible, but this unit would choke on involved action sequences on some newer games.

Even worse, video playback on the rx1950 has been panned by a few forum lurkers. They’re saying that folks who like their PDA gaming served with a side of DVD viewing will find performance hampered in the latter.

My iPAQ 4150’s XScale400-Mhz still serves me quite well, with virtually no DVD to Pocket PC based hiccups.

To compound the issue, games like Age of Empires for Pocket PC contain full-motion video sequences.

A stuttering frame rate is really not what you want adoring, geeky Pocket PC or Palm public to witness. I personally find people most entranced by PDA games or Pocket PC video.

I choose to impress them on both fronts.

It sure beats telling folks that your device is best served by reminders. It’s so much more than that.

Blindly joining in the MP3 device mania, I purchased a Zen Micro unit at a huge discount fairly recently, saving some $125 CDN in the process.

I then purchased an iRiver FM transmitter from Best Buy that plugs into my cigarette lighter, so I could have a permanent MP3 shuffle when en route to work.

I then realized what a complete waste of money this endeavour was when I plugged connected my iPAQ to the iRiver and set Pocket Media Player on shuffle.

The answer had lain with my awesome, versatile Pocket PC all the time. I had failed to see it.

All I had to do was cram a one gigabyte SD card full of MP3s and let her rip.

I’d been blinded by too much PDA gaming and not enough MP3 playing.

As it turns out, I already have an MP3 player, as well as an arcade gaming platform, several gaming console Pocket PC emulators, a DVD movie viewer, etc.

It’s all right here in the case on my belt.

I’ve taken to plugging the FM tramsmitter in my iPAQ and turning up my radio volume to hear pins knock in Ultimate Bowling Fighter over car audio, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife.

She always assumes an expression on her face indicating that she’d rather not be in the vicinity when I resort to geeky, shameful PDA activity.

Still, on the rx1950 the beloved D-pad is still in place, eschewing the bizarre rx4700 touchpad for some good old

comfortable button-mashing.

So on the Pocket PC game directional control front, everything’s copasetic.

If you really want something that provides more than middling performance in some aspects, you may want to look elsewhere for your Pocket PC game fix instead of ponying up the cash for the rx1950.

The rx1950 is an introductory level device, but I can’t wait for Hewlett Packard to roll up its sleeves and produce a device that’s really worthy of the PDA gaming community.