As I mentioned before, I was in for quite a weekend, and I was not disappointed.
We attended Video Games Live at the Ralston Arena in Ralston Nebraska, just outside of Omaha. The show started at 8pm, but the doors opened at 6pm for the activities. These included signing up for the costume contest (there were some good and not so good ones there) as well as competing in the Guitar Hero contest to win the opportunity to play the game live onstage with the band. While I’m fairly good at GH, I did not attempt the competition as I have not broken my shell as of yet. I was very tempted to try it, even though I knew I was not good enough to win. They also had the t-shirt/DVD vendor set up as well, although they were not expecting any old and fat gamers as the shirts were only upto a large in size. I bought the DVD instead.
As the crowd waited to enter the concourse at 7:30, I walked around a bit to take in all the glory that is gamer nerds. As I mentioned before, some wore costumes, but not many. Most were dressed as geeks. I regret not wearing one of my many game related t-shirts as I almost felt overdressed and didn’t feel like I belonged with this crowd of mostly twenty-somethings. Admittedly, I was in a t-shirt and shorts, but it doesn’t take much for this socially inept geek to feel shut out of a crowd.
The wife was taking a few pictures and trying to post them to Facebook, but was having little luck with connecting. Four thousand nerds all in one place tends to eat up the bandwidth pretty quickly. They eventually opened the doors and we filed in like so much cattle to get to our seats. The wife had really came through in this regard, we had amazing seats fairly close to the stage and centered on the stage. I could not have picked better seats, and the bonus to it all was that our row was fairly empty so we were able to spread out a bit with our only neighbors. No sitting on stranger’s laps here!
The show ran for about three hours of pure, unfiltered nostalgia. I’m always one to be moved by a live performance, especially a symphony, but to have them playing the soundtrack to my childhood made it even more moving for me. I would get chills with the first few notes of piece from a favorite game. Pokemon got more of a reaction from me than I would have thought before, but Mario, Skyrim, Castelvania, these all send chills down my body and a yell out my mouth. The most moving pieces for me were easily Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy VII (“One Wing Angel”), and Chrono Trigger. The first and last nearly brought me to tears, and the FF one is just a powerful bit of music. Even the wife got excited when she would actually recognize a game. I’m sure I heard a bit of a squeal when the music from World of Warcraft began.
The one and only complaint I had was the light display. It was very neat and looked great, but part of the show was watching the video they put together to go along with the music and the lights were often aimed across the screen. The light would hit the fog wafting from the stage and all but obscure the screen. I understand that the big part of the show was the music, but still. Along with lighting were the spotlights that would move out across the crowd, these were very blinding and uncomfortable.
I can acknowledge that this could simply be a sign of getting older. More evidence of this came when I realized that I could have done without the fun interruptions and would have preferred they just play more song. Tommy Tallarico, the creator and host of VGL, mentioned that they have over 250 pieces arranged to play, but can only get to about 18 in a show. It is only natural that some of the ones I would have liked to hear (“Lament of the Highborne”, Civ 4) were not played and some I didn’t care to hear (Metal Gear Solid) were played. I guess thats always the way it is with any concert. Thankfully, they did finish in the manner I thought to be nearly obligatory, they played “Still Alive” from Portal. I would have been a bit let down had they not played it.
Overall, the experience was amazing. It was very emotional to see my entire life played out in front of me while an orchestra played along and a choir sang along. I should be riding this high for a while barring any major disasters. If you ever get a chance to go, don’t pass it up. At least buy the DVD or album, you would not regret it. Unless you don’t like video games and their music, which makes me wonder why you are reading this at all.