x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Music to the ears of the UAE's video game fans

We wrap up a weekend in gaming in the UAE, featuring Video Games Live and IGN Gamefest.

Visitors play at GamesFest at Club West, Grand Midwest Towers in Dubai Media City. Ravindranath K / The National
Visitors play at GamesFest at Club West, Grand Midwest Towers in Dubai Media City. Ravindranath K / The National

A strange mix of video game lovers and symphony orchestra enthusiasts gathered at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Friday to witness an innovative fusion of music and technology as Video Games Live finally came to Dubai.

Since it first started in 2002, the show – conceived by the video game industry veteran and music composer Tommy Tallarico – has toured the world and captured the hearts of gamers all over. The event features music from the most popular video games performed by local orchestras and choirs and set to synchronised video, light and laser effects.

Tallarico, who has been producing musical scores for video games for more than two decades, says he couldn’t believe it took so long for the show to come to Dubai, which he considers to be a place receptive to new concepts and therefore an ideal location for the show to be performed.

He describes the show as “the power and emotion of a symphony orchestra mixed with the excitement and energy of a rock concert and the technology and interactivity of a video game all in one”. Performed by the UAE National Symphony Orchestra alongside Tallarico’s team, Friday’s show featured music from games including Super Mario Bros, Final Fantasy, Halo, Metal Gear Solid, God of War and Tomb Raider, as well as arcade classics such as Pong and Donkey Kong. The event also featured solo performers, electronic percussionists and interactive segments that melded together for an enthralling entertainment experience.

More than just a concert, it was a celebration of the video game industry, putting the genre out there as a serious contributor to modern art and culture. Avid video gamers, who were in strong attendance, were wowed by the live symphony orchestra performance of music they normally just hear through their headphones, game controllers in hand. Meanwhile, orchestra enthusiasts got to discover the epic power of the music of video games and witness that there is more to this subculture than meets the eye.

Before and after the concert, attendees got a chance to immerse themselves further into the gaming culture via game demonstrations and competitions, a costume contest and opportunities to meet video game designers, composers and voice actors.

In 2008, Video Games Live was inducted into Guinness World Records for having performed the most video game concerts in a one-year period (43). The show is currently in the midst of breaking its own record.


IGN GameFest

Rounding off an epic weekend for gamers was the latest edition of GameFest, held at Club West, Grand Midwest Towers, Dubai Media City on Saturday.

Organised by Tbreak Media, the publishers of IGN Middle East, GameFest brought together gamers from around the UAE to participate in various tournaments and check out the latest offerings from the video games industry.

Gamers got the opportunity to try out new products that have not yet been released, participate in tournaments on both consoles and PC, try out the latest gaming gear and take part in a cosplay costume competition.

“GameFest was better this time around because we had a variety of tournaments on offer,” says Nick Rego, the senior editor of IGN Middle East. “In addition to our regular Tekken and Fifa tournaments, we also included a tournament with the new Halo  4 and Black Ops 2, as well as an all-out battle with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. I think the variety of games and the atmosphere was certainly good, and gamers seemed to be really enjoying themselves.”

The event used to be held at a different venue, which had been its home for the past several editions. Why the sudden change?

“We had heard about Club West and wanted to see if it could potentially work as a venue for GameFest. It has all the necessary audio and video and is metro-accessible, and is also a much larger and open space to hold a variety of activities. Plus, plenty of space to do some Gangnam Style dancing,” says Rego.

As usual, there were some amazing prizes up for grabs. Winners went home with Playseat gaming chairs, Beats headphones, Xbox Vaults, HP Play subscriptions, Axtrom tablets, PS Vitas, Zbox Plus Mini-PCs and various video game titles.