Over the past decade, only one video-game soundtrack, for the 2012 title Journey, has received a Grammy nod, for best score soundtrack for visual media. That number could increase fivefold this year thanks to the addition of a new category: best score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media.
While video-game scores may not be as mainstream as those of TV and film, renowned composers like Hans Zimmer and Michael Giacchino have validated the relevance and importance of video-game music, contributing scores for popular franchises like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor. “People have come to realize that game music is serious music,” says Brian Schmidt, president of the Game Audio Network Guild. “Modern video games have scores that, in addition to serving as the emotional foundation of many games, reflect the incredible artistry of the composers, producers, performers and other artists involved in its creation. It’s thrilling to see the Recording Academy recognize video-game music as the unique art form that it has become.”
This year could see a handful of newer names making a mark in video-game music. Some of 2022’s most likely candidates to receive nominations in the new category will be the soundtracks to Horizon Forbidden West, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and God of War Ragnarök.
Schmidt has been advocating for this inclusion for decades, first approaching the academy in 1999 to discuss a Grammy category — and credits the field’s growing popularity as the reason for why this is the year the academy has finally recognized video-game music. “Today,” he says, “artists record covers of game music, symphony orchestras play concerts of game music, and fans flock to conventions dedicated to game music.”