PAX East 2013

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Video Game Orchestra

24 March 2013 | Written by Maxxum

If you've been frequenting gaming conventions in the last few years, you've probably seen, or at least heard of VGO. Founded by Shota Nakama in 2008, they've introduced a mix of rock, jazz, and classical music into their themes on video game music. I spoke with Shota on the last day of PAX.

Shota Nakama

click to enlarge

We were talking earlier about some of the games you've composed music for, tell us how you got started doing that.

Well, I've composed music for games at MIT Gambit as a freelance guy, and during that time I was starting up VGO, and we started getting a bunch of recording gigs, and we did record for 'Tekken Tag Tournament 2', 'Ace Combat 3DS', and 'God Eater 2' on PSP.

Why do you like composing for video games so much, and why is your focus on video games?

I like games (laughs), that's probably the best answer I can give. And, I grew up playing games, y'know, I was raised in the 80's and 90's, if you're my age, raised in Japan it's impossible avoiding video games and I just love it.

Louis A. Ochoa Ting-Ru Lai Masato Itoh

Tell us how you went about organizing VGO, and why an orchestra?

I started the classical piano when I was 8, and did that for 5 or 6 years, then I switched to electric guitar, and I was always into symphonic rock style, and also European metal stuff that integrate music from classical stuff with orchestra stuff with rock band/metal band, that's like my style and I really, really like it. It's more epic, and has a huge impact and I think just orchestra by itself, it's not really enough for me... it's great, I love classical music, but, the sound is just not enough - it doesn't have the same energy like a rock show and I just like to add rock band so that it becomes just more grand and it touches people better I think.

What is the recruiting and audition process like for people interested in joining VGO?

It's pretty easy, they e-mail me, or they e-mail somebody else in the group ... the audition process is you play pieces, so you have to be good ... but you have to be passionate about we do, playing new stuff, video game music with rock band and stuff. And, also you have to be a nice person, that's all, that's all I require, just three things.

What do you do in your spare time?

Well, I like to travel, I like to watch movies and play games, but playing games is so hard because I have to commit more time, movies are two hours or less, but games you have to commit 50 hours, and I bought a bunch of games and I haven't finished them, but I still like to play them.

Shota Nakama and Louis A. Ochoa Ingrid Gerdes and Masato Itoh Charlie Shaughnessy and Ingrid Gerdes


Journalist Comments:

While I was taking photographs of the concert, I could hear people calling out requests, and there are a few which stand out as very popular, "Snake Eater" in particular. VGO's schedule is available on their website.

Photos by Maxxum