It’s not every day you’d find me on stage in a rock orchestra concert of video game music with 2500 screaming fans.
But this wasn’t an "everyday" kind of day.
A month ago, I wouldn't generally have thought of video gamers as music connoisseurs, but I might have changed my mind on that.
You might have heard of Video Games Live – it's a concert entirely full of video game music. You might be imagining the Super Mario Brothers theme song in your head right now, but I can tell you with authority, the music from modern video games is often far closer to a movie soundtrack than an old rickety arcade game. With an orchestra, choir, three big screens of synchronized video, a guitar-playing host (Tommy Tallarico), and lots of audience interaction, it's a great show!
It's so great, in fact, that they've been touring for six years all over the world and regularly drawing sell-out crowds, even at big venues like Toronto's Massey Hall. They hire a local orchestra and choir for each show, and through some music friends, I found myself with an invitation to sing in four concerts – Kitchener, Hamilton, Toronto, and Kingston. I thought it would be interesting to get a glimpse into the world of gamers, so I was in!
I admit that I'm not much of a gamer myself. After a lot of whining, my parents gave in and got the original Nintendo (is age 14 too old to be whining?), but I never got into too many games. I avoided the fighting games, was too impatient for the strategy games, and even lost interest in Mario after the Super Nintendo version. I could rock-out on MarioKart, though. I ruled at that one. No joke.
The concert featured a great mix of music with some stand-out highlights. Civilization IV (video of the PBS special here) featured two great soloists, and it was the first video game music ever to win a Grammy. Halo featured a mix of guitar and strings that definitely got my blood pumping, and the audience went nuts at the end when the character appeared live on stage waving the victory flag (video from Hamilton). The whole concert was just so epic! But in Massey Hall, we got an extra surprise...
They brought a guy and girl on stage under the guise of having a “couples contest” online. They handed the guy the microphone, and he got down on one knee and pulled out a ring. The audience went crazy. The girl said yes, I scrambled to grab my cell phone and captured the once-in-a-lifetime engagement photo above. I found them in the lobby at intermission and sent them a copy – one for their wedding scrapbook. (video from the audience perspective)
The whole night was a new world for me: A costume contest, a Guitar Hero superstar from the audience rocking out live to Van Halen's Jump, 2500 fans cheering at the first chords of Warcraft, and amidst all that, a strangely enchanting display of affection, romance, and vulnerability in the form of an on-stage marriage proposal. And all the while, I was singing along in the choir. Is this real life? Sometimes I wonder how I'm fortunate enough to have all these cool experiences.
Then again, that was a pretty special night for a LOT of people! Cool things are happening all the time. Life is pretty exciting when you're paying attention.
I decided to “sing along” because it was a singing gig that I knew would be fun, but I feel like my experience was a lot bigger than that. I feel like I gained a lot of appreciation for video game music, video game players, and even video games themselves: for better or worse, they're a huge part of our culture.
I have to say, I really got a lot out of the whole experience. Choosing to “sing along” had been a good decision.
Where will you “sing along” this month?
May 25, 2011
"Future generations will not believe it, but there was a moment when Pac-Man was as big as "Star Wars." ...
"Pac-Man didn't occupy its place in commercial culture because consumers wanted to metaphorically imitate an insatiably hungry little yellow ball; they bought because the game was good enough to tap into genuine sources of pleasure."
-Chris Green, British Journalist & Media Consultant
Formerly called "The Beanstalk", the new article series "Excited to be Here!" is an account of Joel's unique travels and wacky adventures: Life is pretty exciting when you're paying attention.
Joel Hilchey is the Founder of The Beanstalk Project. An educator and entertainer, Joel inspires character by juggling, storytelling, and playing with mousetraps. Joel specializes in opening keynotes for conferences and offsite retreats, engaging people to people think differently so they learn more, have more fun, and get the most out of an experience.
To book Joel, contact him by phone at 1-877-487-5635 or check him out online at www.joelhilchey.com!
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Riddle of the Month:
Sega's version of Mario, many years in the past, I'm blue and I'm spiky and roll around fast. I'm an animal, I'm cute, and I zip through the ground. Music, I'm not, but my name, it means “sound”! Who am I?
Joel's Summer: Facilitating for National Student Leadership Conference
Wondering what Joel does in the summer?
Joe's one of the Leadership Facilitators for National Student Leadership Conference - a fantastic leadership development organization. This year (his second with NSLC), Joel will spend 7 weeks at University of Chicago and Northwestern University working alongside a great staff team. NSLC has sites in Washington DC, Maryland, New York, California, Louisianna, and Chicago, and thousands of students come through their programs each year. Students come from all over United States (and sometime from beyond the borders) for a session 6-13 days in length. They participate in interactive, career-based simulations, leadership modules, and have an amazing experience in the city. It's amazing
for Joel too!
Copyright 2011, Joel Hilchey. To learn how you can reprint this article for FREE, contact Joel.