On June 10th, the London Video Game Orchestra made history by becoming the very first video game orchestra to dedicate a live musical event to LGBTQ+ video games.
The London Video Game Orchestra takes its duty of introducing people to the world of video game music very seriously. In previous years the group has performed an arrangement of songs for numerous events, such as Symphony of Heroes and Battle Mode Activated — featuring songs from all your favourite video games. Think Assassin’s Creed, Dragon Age, Far Cry, Final Fantasy, and a whole lot more.
Pride in Gaming is a little different, and I mean that in the best of ways. Taking place at Logan Hall, the orchestra’s focus this time around was on video games that featured LGBTQ+ narratives, characters, and themes. The event featured music from some of the best: Prey, Stardew Valley, and even the award-winning Celeste.
The event immediately started off strong, with the beginnings of The Outer World’s main theme rising like a benevolent god up from the talented orchestra. A silence fell across the hall as we sat and witnessed history for the first time. We let the sounds rush through us, as we reimagined the virtual worlds we’d spent years exploring, only this time? It was together.
Alongside the incredible music came a brief anecdote of history about each game and the wonderful LGBTQ+ elements involved. This inclusion I particularly liked, as it not only allowed those of us who had never played the aforementioned game to understand the amount of genres that queer stories and characters have thrived in within the video game industry. RPGs, point-and-click adventures, life simulators and action-adventure games… The queer experience is not just one thing, and I felt that I experienced it all just sitting there and listening as a mix of Stardew Valley’s seasonal songs gave way to the harsh, foreboding march of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s main theme.
Throughout the symphony, one of wonderful talent from the choir to the orchestra, a sudden (and quite depressing) thought sprung to the front of my mind. I realized that this history was being made at a time where the UK, having once been the number 1 country to live for LGBTQ+ people, had failed us all so miserably. Not only is the UK no longer number 1, but it now ranks at 17 on the Rainbow Map. Even now, the UK government and its leaders continues to make a mockery of our community. It wants us to feel divided and alone, so we don’t have the energy to fight back. But that is far from the truth, and it never felt more like lies when I sat in that hall alongside other LGBTQ+ people and our allies, and listened to music from video games that mean so much to us.
The London Video Game Orchestra’s Pride in Gaming event was healing and historical. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do next year.