Photos from the North American Conference on Video Game Music

I just returned from a fantastic experience as the keynote speaker for the North American Conference on Video Game Music.  The conference was beautifully organized by Professor William Gibbons of TCU.  Here are some photos from the event:


My conference badge for the North American Conference on Video Game Music.  This was my first time as a keynote speaker, and I couldn’t have hoped for a more positive experience.


J.M. Moudy Hall on the beautiful campus of TCU served as the site of the North American Conference on Video Game Music, and as you can see, we were enjoying ideal weather throughout the conference weekend!


Here’s a portion of the audience for my keynote address.


My keynote address was titled, “The Role of Music in Video Game Immersion.”  I explored some topics related to the effects of music on the brain, and how these can facilitate more intense and involving gameplay.  These ideas are also found in chapter three of my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music.


After my keynote address, the conference organizer Will Gibbons graciously arranged for me to sign copies of my book for the conference attendees.  The signing took place in the beautiful TCU Barnes & Noble bookstore.

The bookstore was festooned with purple everywhere, and all the TCU merchandize featured the celebrated TCU mascot – the horned frog. Fun fact: the horned frog is also the official reptile of Texas.

In this photo, I’d just arrived at the bookstore, and you can see that one of the conference presenters, Enoch Jacobus, jumped in for an excellent photobomb!  🙂  Keep an eye out for Enoch later on.

Here are some more photos from the book signing:


There was a really nice display of my book at the book signing table.


Here’s conference attendee Daniel Braunstein, a student at the University of Michigan.


It was great meeting Michael Austin, an assistant professor of Media, Journalism & Film at Howard University.  At the conference, he presented the talk, “Old Categories for New Media: Rethinking Music Videogame Organology.”


This is Cameron Jordan, a music student at TCU.


Elizabeth Kirkendoll is a musicology graduate student at TCU.


Kathleen Kuo is a doctoral candidate studying ethnomusicology and Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University Bloomington. She presented the talk, “Hitting Reset: Reception, Replay Value, and the Creative Process of Video Game Cover Music.”


And here again is the charismatic Enoch Jacobus, a musicologist who holds a Ph.D. in Music Theory from the University of Kentucky and was just named the new associate editor of Analytical Approaches to World Music. At this year’s conference, Enoch gave a talk about the music of Bioshock Infinite entitled, “Lighter Than Air: A Return to Columbia.”


Will Ayers teaches at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. At the conference he presented the talk, “Analyzing Narrative in Video Game Music: Topic Theory and Modular Design.”


Great to meet Neil Lerner, a professor at Davidson College and one of the conference chairs. He also presented a talk at the conference entitled, “Teaching the Soundtrack in a Video Game Music Class.”


What a pleasure to meet David Abad, a student at TCU who wasn’t attending the conference but came over to get a signed copy of my book. Thanks for your support, David!


Dominic Arsenault is an assistant professor of video game design and history at the University of Montreal, Canada.  His talk at the conference was “From Atunement to Interference: A Typology of Musical Intertextuality in Video Games.” Also – check out the great Pac-Man tote! 🙂


The next day, I was the subject of a Q&A session moderated by Professor Martin Blessinger and sponsored by the TCU Society of Composers.


Martin Blessinger is an accomplished composer and teaches music theory and composition at TCU.  It was great talking with Martin and the great Q&A audience about such topics as game music production, career building, live performance and issues related to game music study.  Fascinating questions from both Martin and lots of audience members!


Well, that wraps up this photo blog of my adventure as a keynote speaker at the North American Conference on Video Game Music.  It was a thoroughly fulfilling, rewarding journey, and I learned a ton!  Plus, I met a lot of fascinating people, and I hope these newfound friendships will continue forward into the future.

If you’d like a taste of what it was like to attend, you can read the messages that were live-tweeted during the event at #VGMconference.  Also, a partial transcript of my TCU Society of Composers Q&A is available on  Thanks to Will Gibbons, Martin Blessinger and everyone who made this event a fantastic success.  It was a great conference!

The North American Conference on Video Game Music


I’m very pleased to share that I’ll be giving the keynote address at the North American Conference on Video Game Music!  This conference brings together musicologists, music theorists and scholars to study a relatively-new genre in popular music during in an intensive two-day exploration of the art and science of video game scoring, the challenges facing the game composer, the unique characteristics as compared to scores for other entertainment media, and the relationship between the musical content and the mechanics of modern game design.

Last year’s conference sparked great interest and enthusiasm, including a feature article in Wired Magazine, widespread media coverage courtesy of The Associated Press, and a National Public Radio piece entitled “The Study of Video Game Music Gains Recognition.”

This year’s conference program includes many intriguing presentations. Some of the session titles include, “Immersion into what? The sound world of Sid Meier’s Civilization V,” “Navigating the Uncanny Musical Valley: Red Dead Redemption, Ni no Kuni, and the Dangers of Cinematic Game Scores,” “Music Appreciation and the Mario Bros.: The Pedagogy of Musical Hermeneutics,” and “Compositional Techniques of Chiptune Music,” among many others.  The entire conference program can be found here.

Moudy Hall, site of the North American Conference on Video Game Music

Moudy Hall, site of the North American Conference on Video Game Music

A Composer's Guide to Game Music, winner of the Global Music Award Gold Medal for an exceptional book in the field of music.

A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, winner of the Global Music Award Gold Medal for an exceptional book in the field of music.

The conference will take place on January 17th and 18th in Moudy Hall on the TCU University campus in Fort Worth, Texas. I’ll be delivering my keynote address, “The Role of Music in Video Game Immersion,” at the end of the first day of the conference, and I’m looking forward to it!

Right after my keynote I’ll be signing my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music (The MIT Press), and it will be great to meet some more wonderful readers and hear about their experiences in the field of game music.  Should be tremendous fun!

On the second day of the conference, I’ll be participating in a TCU Society of Composers Seminar entitled “Composing for Games Q&A with Winifred Phillips.”  Really looking forward to meeting everyone and having a discussion about game music with such an impressive assembly of scholars and game music lovers!

The conference is organized this year by a committee of distinguished academics in the field of musicology:

  • William Gibbons, co-editor of Music in Video Games: Studying Play (Routledge),
  • Neil Lerner, editor of the book series Music and Screen Media (Routledge),
  • Steven Reale, winner of the Dean’s Innovation Award for Scholarship and Creativity from Youngstown State University and presenter of the Tedx talk, “Playing Games and Playing Music,”
  • Karen Collins, author of Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design (The MIT Press)
  • James Buhler, co-author of Hearing the Movies (Oxford University Press),
  • Daniel Goldmark, co-editor of The Cartoon Music Book (A Cappella).

Here’s a video that recaps last year’s highly successfully conference:

Thanks so much to the North American Conference on Video Game Music for creating such an outstanding event!