The Grammy Awards technically subsumed video game soundtracks under the “Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media” category, although in practice game music was excluded: only once was a video game composer nominated. in the category, i.e. Austin Wintory for his work on Journey in 2013. Earlier this year, the Grammys announced the creation of a dedicated category (opens in a new tab) for “Best Original Score Score for Video Games and Other Interactive Media”, awarded to the composer(s) responsible for “an original score created specifically for or in addition to video games and other interactive media”.
Here is who is in the race (opens in a new tab) for 2022:
- Alien: Fireteam Elite – Austin Wintorycomposer
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok – Stephanie Economoucomposer
- Call Of Duty: Vanguard – Bear McCrearycomposer
- Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – Jacques Jacquescomposer
- Old world – Christopher Tincomposer
These things are entirely subjective and I certainly don’t presume to be an expert in the field, but in my opinion this isn’t the most invigorating selection of games and composers I’ve ever seen. It’s like an easy checkbox list: Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, a Marvel license, Austin Wintory – the only guy ever nominated for a video game – and Christopher Tin, who actually won a Grammy for game music (Our father (opens in a new tab)) but in a non-gaming context.
I have no doubt that all the nominees are excellent, but they don’t tell me that the Grammy folks went particularly far to find contenders for the category. Compare the Grammy nominees to the Game Awards, which also gave a nod (and ultimately a win) to Bear McCreary, but for an entirely different game:
- Olivier Deriviere – A Plague Tale: Requiem
- Tsukasa Saito -Ring of the Ancients
- Bear McCreary – God of War: Ragnarok – WINNER
- two feathers – Metal Hellsinger
- Yasunori Mitsuda – Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Much of this may be due to the way Grammy nominations are made. Unlike the specialized Game Awards, the Grammys are for the music industry as a whole. This means that it covers a much wider range of genres and sources, and also that its processes are more old-fashioned: Grammy nominations are made either by members of the Recording Academy (opens in a new tab), or by record labels or media companies registered with the Recording Academy. So if, say, you’re an indie developer with a cool game and great soundtrack, but you didn’t know you had to join the Recording Academy to submit it for review, you’re out of luck. . (The deadline for soundtracks to be eligible is September 30, but the deadline for registering with the academy to submit your work was August 24.) costs money submit work for review.
Apart from all that, there are also some weird timing issues with a few nominees. The Grammys website (opens in a new tab) states that the “product eligibility period” for work submitted for review is October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022. But Aliens: Fireteam Elite was released on August 24, 2021, and Old World launched on July 1, 2021, all two well outside the eligibility window.
I suppose it’s possible that the Grammy nomination process is mysterious enough that there just aren’t enough entries in the video game category, and so they went further than they would normally to fill it up to five. Such a shortage of material would not be unprecedented: In 2019, the Writers Guild of America dropped its video game award category (opens in a new tab) because there were not enough nominations, a situation due in large part to the WGA’s equally exclusive eligibility rules. I have contacted the academy to ask what is going on and will update if I receive a response.
The 2023 Grammy Awards will take place on February 5, 2023 and will be broadcast live from the Crypto.com Arena, assuming its exposure in the FTX Disaster (opens in a new tab) does not force a name change before that.