With the Video Games Live Summer tour starting and the show hitting Nashville for the first time (more on the show soon), Tommy Tallarico, co-founder of Video Games Live, took the time for an exclusive interview. The topic was the show’s beginnings and current trends.
The first question for Tommy was, “What was your inspiration for Video Games Live?” He explained that since he has been working on video games for 23 years and has worked on over 300 video games, he wanted to show how video game music has advanced. He notes that the show is for everyone and that it is like a rock concert plus a symphony with some cutting edge visuals to go along with it. He also hopes the concert series can help gain more video game fans.
The second question was, “When you started approaching companies for permission to use music from their games, how did they react? Were they skeptical or energetic?” This came as a bit of a surprise but Tommy said “They thought I was crazy.” Video game companies basically went on to say, “Who would want to see a symphony perform video game music?” He mentioned that Square Enix asked him who Nobuo Uematsu was, which, of course, Final Fantasy fans will tell you he worked on Final Fantasy VI’s soundtrack , Final Fantasy VII’s soundtrack, and Final Fantasy VIII’s soundtrack. Additionally Tommy noted that from the time they started planning it took three years to get to the first show.
Question three was “What if anything has most surprised about Video Games Live?” He says that to him it is amazing for him to go all over the world, from various cities in the US to China to Dubai and have gamers show up to hear video game music. He says something magical happens when a group of gamers that big get together. He also notes there should be pride that major symphonies are playing video game music.
When asked if Video Games Live had managed to add any segments Tommy said they were currently working on 10. He listed Assassin’s Creed 4, Dota 2, a Blizzard game he cannot reveal, Skyrim, Journey, Pokemon and Monkey Island. He also mentioned they just added a Katamari Damacy segment. He mentions that now they have over 100 segments. The Video Games Live website says they get to perform about 20 during a show.
“Any particular games or soundtracks you really wanted to add to Video Games Live but just have not been able to?” Tommy noted that for a while it was Katamari Damacy but he got to add a lot from Namco including that and Pac-man. He noted that he is hoping to work on Secret of Mana and Mother/Earthbound.
“What is your favorite part about Video Games Live?” Tommy’s answer, “The standing ovation.” followed by a laugh. He mentions that it is a very complex show and has a lot of moving parts. Since he is the producer once he hears the standing ovation he knows the show is done and that the pieces came together. Tommy also noted that the best letters they get are from non-gamers. People who do not play video games are blown away by how amazing video game music can be.
Tommy notes that there are a number of interactive events he mentions one focused on Space Invaders and another on Frogger. He notes for the Nashville show there will be an interactive event linked to Guitar Hero and another linked to Super Smash Bros. The one for Super Smash Bros. has randomly selected players battling it out on the video screen while the orchestra plays dynamically shifting music based on what is happening.
When Tommy was asked if there was anything else he wanted to add he simply asks fans to spread the word. Social media and word of mouth is important to shows like this.