Thoughts Caused by Music – Video Games Live
An early post! Maybe I’ll post another one on Monday to stay with my schedule… in the meantime, I was inspired and had to get this down. I recently had the good fortune to attend the Video Games Live concert near me and close to the end I had a sort of epiphany. Let me explain…
I was sitting next to one of my friends and just as the orchestra was starting into a piece on World of Warcraft and he made some kind of comment about the game that I interpreted as kind of disparaging toward the game and anyone who played it. Later in the set, the orchestra played Aerith’s theme from Final Fantasy VII and another Final Fantasy piece and I found myself commenting on how Aerith’s theme has been done to death… and then I heard them play it.
I came to a realization at that point. I’m no longer going to encourage, entertain, commiserate, or even allow anyone around me to speak ill of anyone for their gaming preferences. If you want to play World of Warcraft, good on you, I hope you have a great time. If you’re really a huge fan of Final Fantasy VII and think Sephiroth is the coolest bad guy and so on, I’m happy you’ve found something you’re really into. I’m genuinely happy that there’s a franchise that you can dive into and truly feel connected and entertained.
I realized at that moment, listening to the amazing performance and feeling the notes of beautifully rendered music wash over me, that I’ve played these games and whereas they don’t really do it for me, they did reach me somehow and they were entertaining to me. When I saw the death of Arthas as the Lich King (they were playing footage on the screen behind the orchestra) and felt the power of the moment through the music, I felt pity for the guy (yeah, I know, he wasn’t really smart picking up that evil sword, but it was a pretty awesome sword). I knew him in Warcraft III and that connection was all I needed. When I heard Aerith’s theme done in person, I felt the emotions when I first witnessed her death and I realized that my scoffing at the performance initially was short sighted and foolish. Aerith was my friend for however long I knew her. The developers did an amazing thing (heartbreaking) killing her so early in the game and she is quite the tragic figure. I will never look at Warcraft or Final Fantasy VII quite the same way again.
I hope I can carry this “live and let live” attitude into other portions of my life. Like with television shows or books that people like to read but I find to be nothing but drivel… if someone enjoys that material then it has served its purpose and has entertained. I shall not continue to disparage things just because I’m squeamish or reluctant to take part in them.
I’ll say it again though… listening to that music, I remembered that I genuinely cared for the characters of Arthas and Aerith to some degree, even after all these years. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to them then and I still strangely have hopes for them today. I understand getting connected to a franchise, to a character, to a series of stories and I understand how emotionally powerful that can be. When a game reaches you and makes you gasp, cry out, tear up, laugh, scream in frustration, that’s the story, music, art, and design playing your heartstrings like a harp. I know that feeling and I can identify with anyone and everyone who has ever experienced such a thing, regardless of the medium. I invite everyone with similar experiences to look upon your fellow game players and book readers and show watchers and movie goers and to say, “I’ve been there. Tell me of your experiences and I’ll share mine.” We are a community of humans and, whereas we don’t always get along, our similarities far outweigh any differences.
Be good to each other and share your experiences. Telling stories about our friends (fictional or not) to people we don’t know is one way of making new and potentially lasting friends.
Until next time.
P.S. “Music exalts each joy, allays each grief, expels diseases, softens every pain, subdues the rage of poison, and the plague.” – John Armstrong, The Art of Preserving Health (1744, Book IV, Line 512).