Video Games Live

Last night I got to take advantage of my father's day gift. Back on Father's day, Jenn and the kids got me tickets to see Video Games Live as it came to Indianapolis during GenCon. Video Games Live is a concert where the symphony orchestra and symphony choir perform music from video games. Prior to the show, Jenn and I headed to Rock Bottom for some dinner. The main seating area was full with a 30 minute wait, but the basement was first come first serve and we easily found seats. We sampled the beer (we both really liked the raccoon red) and had a dinner. My fish and chips was especially interesting because they used salmon rather than white fish. It was really good! Jenn had the ale basted chicken, which she said was really good as well. Over dinner I spent some time explaining to Jenn what the difference was between a pen & paper role playing game (like Dungeons and Dragons) and video game role playing games (like Final Fantasy). As we were speaking, folks attending the GenCon show rolled in and she got a first hand look at some hardcore Role-Players.

We got to the show with a few minutes to spare and quickly found our seats. Jenn thought it was funny that at this show there was a line for the men's room, and the lady's room was practically deserted. In addition to the orchestra and choir, the show also had a big screen display where they showed cut-scenes and in game footage of the games they were playing music from. The stage lighting was also synchronized to the music. The opening section was a montage of several different video games from past to present. Following this, the producer of the show would come out and introduce each section of music and what game it was from. You might be surprised to learn that I hadn't played all of the games, but the music was great. I really enjoyed the show. There were some lesser known pieces, like from Beyond Good and Evil and Advent Rising, as well as the more popular games like Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Brothers, and Sonic the Hedgehog. During the second act, a guy who had claimed fame by playing video game music blindfolded on the piano came to the stage and amazed everyone with his ability. I wish I could remember his name, but it was amazing to see his fingers fly across the keyboard, pounding out one video game tune after the other. I've always really liked the music from the Final Fantasy series of games, and to hear him play it on the piano was just astonishing. I loved it!!!

There was a 20 minute intermission between acts, and this provided nearly as much entertainment as the show in the form of people watching. I had read about folks who get into cos-play (dressing in the costume of your favorite characters) but hadn't seen it in person. I think Jenn was a little freaked out at first, but I thought it was cool to see folks decked out in Pokemon, Castlevania, and Advance Wars attire. Some of the outfits I couldn't identify, and some were revealing to say the least, but it was a blast to see. There was a guitar hero 2 competition, and a space invaders competition going on as well.

Speaking of space invaders, there were interactive sections of the show as well. During the first act, the producer invited one of the concert goers on stage (named Bob, of course). He was given a t-shirt that had the "blaster" from space invaders on the back, and they put the game on the big screen above the stage. As Bob moved left and right across the stage, so did the blaster on the screen. He had a button he could press to shoot, and he was given 5 lives and 2 minutes to try to clear the level. He did pretty well, considering that he didn't appear to be the most spry individual, and he managed to not fall of the stage as well. It had the crowd cheering and laughing all at once, which was great. During the second act, there was a frogger competition. During this competition, two volunteers used a standard frogger controller to try to get the highest score. I remember frogger, but I didn't realize this game was 25 years old now. The girl who was playing was only 17, and had never played it before. Still, she won the competition (and a new laptop) beating out an older gamer. I'm thinking the old timer might have just thrown the match to give the girl the laptop.

The show was awesome, and I love every minute of it. Even though Jenn isn't a gamer, she still appreciated the music. At times, I forgot we were listening to music live, as it sounded just like what I hear when I'm playing. I hope the concert comes back again next year, and if it does, I'll be asking for it again at Father's day. Thanks, family (including you mom for watching the kids), for an unforgettable night out!

Jade Mason