Monday, November 24, 2008

Video Games Live!

Friday night I went to Video Games Live! here in Boston with Jason and our friend Sarah. What an AMAZING concert. I only took the one picture (above) with my IPhone, but the evening was definitely one to remember.

The event is comprised of live orchestral and choral renditions of popular video game music spanning the last twenty years. Everything was represented - Mario, Zelda, Tetris, God of War, Gears of War, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, MegaMan, Metroid, you name it. There was a piece for every gamer. Designed by Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall, the music of the games was augmented by light shows, video clips, on stage shenanigans, and the catcalls and shouts of the audience members. Every section of the show had its avid supporters, and nobody hesitated in making it known. This was strongly encouraged by Tommy who took every chance to rev up the crowd.

My absolute favorite part of the show was when they introduced Ralph Baer and Bill Harrison, the originators of the video game. These two designed and built the very first system back in 1969, when televisions were black and white and had 13 channels. Mr. Baer, now 86, has a website chronicling the history of the development process. It was phenomenol seeing these two founders of what has become, in 40 short years, the multi-billion dollar gaming industry. I think they got no less than three standing ovations during their time on stage. Mr. Baer and a child from the audience also went a few rounds on one of the original "Brown Box" devices that held a functioning version of the very first video game. It was a tennis type game (ala Pong) with controls for moving your "player" up and down, left and right, and also to put some english on the ball and make it curve. The little boy who got to play ultimately won, to the cheers of the audience members.

Another great bit in the show was the Guitar Hero competition. Before the show everyone got a chance to play Guitar Hero in the lobby, with the winner getting to play Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion on the Hard level during the concert. If they scored more than 200,000 points they got to go home with a prize pack. I forget the name of the guy who won, but he was amazing. He didn't play on Hard, he played on the Expert level, and ended up scoring over 300,000 points - a 90% success rating on notes hit. For someone who (still) struggles on some of the EASY stuff, I was very impressed.

My favorite piece of the musical selections was absoutely God of War. As much as I love Mario and Zelda, the scope of God of War's music is perfect for the concert venue. The music washing over me made me want to run right home and jump into Kratos' world to tear up some gorgons and ogres. The choral effect was amazing, and the soloist who sang had a wonderful voice.

All in all it was a great concert experience and I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes video games of any stripe, music afficionados, and just about anyone who enjoys a good time. Jump onto the Video Games Live! website and see when they are coming to a concert hall near you!

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