William Gibbons (Texas Christian University)
I never thought I would be listed as the “Dungeonmaster” in a concert program, much less for one of the world’s leading wind symphonies. Nevertheless, that was my title last March, when The Dallas Winds generously invited me to provide some on-stage commentary during a live concert of video game music. It was a thrilling evening—not only did I get to experience the ensemble up close, but I also got to speak publicly about one of my favorite topics to a large, enthusiastic, and diverse audience.
After the concert, I chatted with some audience members about what they had particularly enjoyed about the program. Though the responses varied, one refrain caught my attention: many listeners were excited to have heard their favorite game music “how it was meant to be heard.” They seemed to mean that they preferred the music performed by a large, live ensemble instead of the original, electronic version—they felt, in other words, that the orchestral rendition was somehow more “authentic.” There’s nothing wrong with wanting to hear game music played by an orchestra, of course—it can be a richly rewarding musical experience. But the idea of finding the “real” piece of music somewhere beyond its original form raises some tricky questions (and ones not unique to game music).