Video game legitimacy is something I hope we're all looking forward to, to the day when "I play video games" won't result in you getting looked down upon, as it arguably does nowadays. The industry has been making babysteps towards this reality for years with the Wii and DS being recent examples, but every so often we're reminded of just how much prejudice exists towards our beloved hobby.
One such incident occurred last week, when The Greatest Video Games Music 2 album was completely overlooked by the Official Classical Album Chart here in the UK, despite being a fully orchestrated album performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and conducted and devised by recognised composer, producer and musician Andrew Skeet, an individual who has been an orchestrator on Ridley Scott's Robin Hood and Garth Jennings' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The album made it to 1st place on the Classical Album section of the Official Billboard Chart just last week, but continues to be overlooked by the UK equivilent.
The reason for the album being overlooked seems to be unexplained, though Mark Robins, administrator and creator of the "ClassicVGMusic" Facebook group, which is an advocate for the legitimacy of video game music which you should all go and follow right now, had the following to say:
"What we're saying is we can't understand why compilations of orchestral movie scores are accepted as classical when video game scores aren't - there's no logic to it. They talk about the official soundtrack chart, but that doesn't actually exist. When the Billboard chart - the biggest music chart in the world - happily accepts this as classical it just makes the UK chart look archaic in comparison."
The problem seems to be in interpreting one of the charts rules which determine what is and isn't eligible, the exact wording of the rule is this:
"The works should be composed by recognised classical composers and/or in a publicly recognised classical idiom or form."
While I may interpret that to mean that orchestrated music, no matter what the basis should be allowed to be recognised, but apparently the people over at the UK chart company just don't see it the same way. By their logic a classically composed album, orchestrated by one of the most respected orchestras in the world does not qualify, simply because it is based upon music which has appeared in video games. The real sting in the tail here though, is that the exact same logic does not apply when film socres are concerned, in fact, the CURRENT number 1 album in the classical album chart at this very moment is this album of, yep, you guessed it, a musician's own interpretations of songs which have appeared in films entitled: 'Magic Of The Movies', the first tack of which is a version of 'My Heart Will Go On' by Celine Dion, not even originally a composed piece, but a pop track. The heart bleeds!
The refusal to even acknowledge some of the video game world's finest compositions as "classical" is a rather large slap in the face, but there is hope yet. Classic FM, the premier radio station with which to hear classical music here in the UK, recently had a show entirely dedicated to the first 'Greatest Video Games Music' album and it was incredibly popular. The show treated the music with respect and helped enormously to spread the creativity and beauty of some of the great music we've come to know and love as gamers. The radio station even has a section of its website now dedicated solely to video game music, a tremendous step forward.
So while there has been some good out there, the refusal to say "Hey, this album that was the best selling album in the world was orchestral, maybe we should be paying attention to this?" is ridiculous in every way, and prejudices like this NEED to have a light shined on them to raise awareness and combat the problem. I can see a day not too far from now where the original soundtrack to a game can be released on its own merits and reach the top of the album chart, but not while organisations like this sit back and ignore them. Do your part by following the ClassicVGMusic Facebook and Twitter, and staying up to date with the latest big news in the genre of video game music. It's a beautiful medium that is screaming to be recognised, and if you need proof, check out this amazing rendition of 'Far Horizons' from Skyrim, as performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as featured on the 'The Greatest Video Games Music 2' album, to see what you should be supporting.