In the history of the Grammy Awards, only one video game score, Austin Wintory’s “Journey,” has ever been nominated in the best score soundtrack for visual media category — and that was in 2012.
Last year, the video game industry was worth over $90 billion and players spent $4.5 billion on immersive gaming, making it one of the fastest-growing industries. Despite that, the music from video games largely goes ignored by Grammy voters.
Harry Gregson-Williams and Hans Zimmer are just two of the biggest names in film composing who have crossed into composing scores for video games. Gregson-Williams has provided wall-to-wall music for the Metal Gear video franchise, and Zimmer has lent his name to “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,” yet even having household names attached doesn’t seem to garner attention.
One of the biggest factors of any video game is its music, which, like film or TV composition, provides the engaging aspects of storytelling, but also supports the narrative, often in creative and daring spaces.
Speaking with Variety, Wintory says, “When ‘Journey’ was nominated in 2012, it was a surreal moment, not just for the recognition the game and its score were receiving, but also for the fact that it was the first-ever game nomination after more than a decade of eligibility. Yet here we are almost another decade later and it’s bewilderingly still the only nominated game soundtrack album. I can definitely say that it’s not for lack of quality, both before and after! I’ve personally voted for many of colleagues’ works and always a bit disappointed to see none make the cut each year.”
Adds Steve Schnur, worldwide executive and president of music for Electronic Arts: “The video game industry is now bigger than movies and music combined, its creative impact increasingly defining our global culture. Awarding a Grammy to a creative triumph in this medium would help ensure the Recording Academy’s credibility to next-gen entertainment. And if numerous Oscar, Emmy, BAFTA and Grammy-winning composers can embrace this visual medium with the same artistry and respect they’ve brought to film and television, then this is the year that the recording industry must do the same.”
Up for consideration are Hildur Guðnadóttir and Sam Slater for “Battlefield 2042.” Gudnadottir made Oscar history when she scooped up the Oscar for best original score. The win landed her in the history books for becoming the first female Oscar score winner in 23 years.
For “Battlefield 2042,” Guðnadóttir and Slater traveled to France, recording shipyards and ships scraping against the barriers, to finesse into an aural experience.
Can one of the biggest industries crack through this year? It’s your move, Recording Academy.