Playing Gaming Music to Relive Memories, Strengthen CommunitiesBy Joseph Jackmovich | August 9, 2011 | Interviews | No comments | Share
Music can draw you in to a world of remembrance. People remember what songs played during their first kiss, at their high school graduation, or during their wedding reception.
For gamers, using music to remember is no different. Lifetime fans of gaming have a lot of memories to look back on. If asked, any gamer can tell you their first system, their first memories with memorable gaming characters, and their favorite music from some of their favorite titles.
As the gaming community continues to age, more and more talented gamers are beginning to give back to the community. Some create paintings, some create unique mods and levels, and others bring back memories with music.
Lara is one of those gamers who can “make you slowly clench your first in nostalgia,” as one the commenters on her YouTube channel puts it. Lara, who wishes to keep her last name private, is a native of Sydney, Australia. She started playing music when she was six years and followed music to complete a classical music degree with honors in college.
She took up video games around the age of eight when she first picked up the controller to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Her first experiences with gaming were with Mario and Link, but more importantly these titles are where Lara discovered her love of video game music.
“I do get a lot of requests, it must be getting close to a thousand as well,” -Lara
“It’s always been my favorite kind of music to listen to and to play,” Lara said.
In 2009 Lara performed an act for a university show that gave her the idea to put her talent playing gaming music on the internet. Lara eventually discovered the YouTube community, which provided her an outlet to display her love for video game music.
“The nice thing about YouTube is that you meet a community of people,” Lara said. “There are probably about 10 other game musicians on here I talk to regularly and you get feedback and you do collaborations with are really fun.”
The process for selecting songs generally starts with Lara’s familiarity with a game. Since most of her playing is done by ear, being familiar with a song increases her ability to play it well enough to merit a recording.
Now that her channel has gained some popularity, requests also guide what songs Lara plays. While she admits that she cannot play every request, she tries to accommodate as many people as possible by playing the songs requested the most.
“I do get a lot of requests, it must be getting close to a thousand as well,” Lara said. “I try to run it like a democracy, so if ten or fifteen people request it then I’ll try to play it.”
Lara’s channel found a lot of popularity earlier this year when she uploaded a video of her playing the violin while playing DDR at the same time. She also found another boost about two weeks ago when she uploaded a video a simultaneous playing of “Nyan Cat” and Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” That video currently has over 383,000 views at time of writing.
To give more of a fun touch to her videos, Lara often dresses in costume. Usually assembled in pieces, Lara has made costumes from Lara Croft to Sailor Moon to Kirby for some of her videos. Lara said that since she often goes to conventions in Australia, it was really just a matter of combining her two interests.
“I’ve got them [the costumes], so why not play a cosplay related thing to what I’m playing?” Lara said. “It’s just a bit of fun, really.”
“It’s always been my favorite kind of music to listen to and to play,” - Lara
Lara says that the majority of her feedback is positive, and she enjoys reading and responding to comments from fans of her videos. Lara said she enjoys comments about people being inspired to pick up instruments or return to music the most, since it shows that music can touch people regardless of what media it was made for.
“The kind of ‘you’ve inspired me’ comments, I really like those ones,” Lara said. “Those ones kind of stand out. They take the time to write you a private message and those are really nice.”
There are some negative comments that Lara receives, but she chalks that up to being a female on the internet. Dealing with negative comments is a given on the internet but Lara deals with it by either removing the comments or barely responding at all, employing what she calls a “nip it in the bud” approach.
Even with negative comments to consider, Lara is happy with the feedback she receives.
“It’s definitely positive,” Lara said. “But very, very few negative. With YouTube you’re always going to get trolls… but over 90 percent is definitely positive.”
Lara hopes that playing video game music helps to elevate its status to people that may find it easy to look down on video game music as a lower expression of music. She makes mention of famed gaming composed Nobuo Uematsu, stating that his music is classical in style, so applying a label like “video game music” is beside the point.
“With YouTube you’re always going to get trolls… but over 90 percent is definitely positive.” - Lara
There is also the sense of remembrance and community building that comes with music. Some young gamers comment that they’ve never played a title they’ve just heard on Lara’s channel, and others reminisce about hearing for the first time. Both kinds of gamers come together in building a sense of nostalgia and solidarity in places like a YouTube channel that features video game music.
“You remember the music, even if it was years ago,” Lara said. “The music is entrenched in your head and all those memories come back. That’s why I do these covers is because people have such a strong connection to it.”
The future isn’t set in stone for Lara, but for now she plans to keep her YouTube channel going. While she wants to have a career in music, she isn’t sure she wants to “put all her eggs in one basket” and focus on video game music. She is preparing for a month-long trip to China beginning in September to play piano.
You can check out Lara’s YouTube page here.