mon 18/12/2017

h Club 100 Awards: Video games - you've come a long way, baby | reviews, news & interviews

h.Club 100 Awards: Video games - you've come a long way, baby

h.Club 100 Awards: Video games - you've come a long way, baby

From hit shows on Classic FM to bestselling novels, the influence of videogames stretches far beyond the confines of the screen

Gaming crossing boundaries: Recognised as art and influencing popular culture more than ever

In a recent review on theartsdesk, Stuart Houghton did a thoroughly surgical job of dissecting the ancient argument that video games could never be art, by serving up 10 perfect examples to the contrary. Now with the forthcoming h.Club 100 Awards, an event that recognises the 100 most influential and innovative people across the breadth of the UK’s creative industries, we take a closer look at an art form that has had to fight for its right to be accepted by the cultural establishment.

Videogames have not only cemented their position as a major revenue generator (£4 billion in the UK last year) but cross-pollinated with other art forms to the extent that they serve as the both the backdrop and the subject of popular novels and orchestral music.

Keith StuartWhen daytime TV darlings Richard and Judy waxed lyrical about author Keith Stuart (pictured right) and his debut novel A Boy Made of Blocks, a story of a father’s struggle to connect with his autistic son, they were struck by the warmth and tenderness of the work. Judy went on to say, “But waiting quietly in the wings was a way to connect father and son, courtesy of the age of information technology (IT): a virtual language that the child and adult might share.”

What she was describing, apart from the twee reference to IT, was Minecraft, the gaming cultural phenomenon and a cleverly used plot device that acts as both the backdrop and conduit for the relationship to develop between the story’s protagonist and his offspring.

Richard and Judy went on to make the novel their title for The Spring Book Club, which did what all Richard and Judy recommendations do: propel the book to the Amazon bestseller list.

A betting man would put a wager on a film being in the offing. Not bad for a games journalist who has spent much of his life writing about games and gaming culture (Stuart is games editor for the Guardian). But then Stuart knows by nature that games often represent so much more than throw-away entertainment.

Let’s leave books for the moment and turn the radio on. The most popular show on Classic FM catch-up is High Score, a six-part series about video game music, presented by Jessica Curry, an internationally acclaimed BAFTA-winning composer. Curry also knows a thing or two about music and games, having written the score for Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture, one of the standout PS4 hits of 2015. Curry’s videogames compositions have been played from the Sydney Opera House to the Barbican Centre.

Jessica CurryThe Brighton-based composer (pictured left) concedes that there remains some snobbery from the classical music world regarding videogame scores; but compares it to a similar opinion the "old guard" held regarding film soundtracks, a prejudice that now seems ridiculous. 

The Classic FM audience numbers would attest to the popularity of High Score, a show where listeners can enjoy the contrast of the epic and intimate as demonstrated by Clint Mansell’s Mass Effect 3 score. Or the sparse, haunting soundtrack to The Last of Us by double Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla.

Jessica Curry and Keith Stuart are two of the 10 names on the nominee shortlist in the games category for the h.Club 100 Awards. The rest of the list, ranging from e-sports to virtual reality via charity work and innovative designers, is bristling with talent and diversity.

You can have your say by casting a vote for who you think should be recognised for their achievements in the industry. An industry that hasn’t just been accepted by the mainstream, but conquered it.

@wordsbysteve

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