This month, I think it would be a good idea to comment on a medium of artistic expression that is very new and seldom really thought of as such: Videogames. Yes you read that right, artistic expression. I truly believe that games have crossed the threshold between just a game and telling a story so artfully that they can be counted as works of art. Additionally I think they crossed it sooner than we ever realized they would. I understand that many people don’t really see modern videogames as art but I’ll give you an experiment: Go and show a cool older relative of your choice a trailer for Battlefield 1 or 5, Skyrim Elder Scrolls V, The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption 2, No Man’s Sky, or Fallout 4 but try not to show them the game company logos that appear before the trailer really starts. I can guarantee they will ask you if it’s a trailer for a film.
While I can not exactly call myself an avid gamer I’ve been around the block a few times and I’ve gotten pretty decent at them. The game series I want to draw attention to however is Fallout. The first game I played in the Fallout series by Bethesda was Fallout New Vegasduring a sleepover at a friend’s house when I was quite young. It was the first game of its kind I’d ever played and while I regarded the violence with trepidation, as I knew my parents wouldn’t totally approve I found the aspect of discovering places and fulfilling an engaging story something really enticing. The first game from said series I ever owned was Fallout 4 and not only was I ecstatic that it took place in Boston but also because the story and hype around the game was second to none and I was totally hooked.
So where does this play into music? Well aside from the videogame industry being wonderful for film scoring style work for engineers, arrangers, and musicians, there’s kind of a specific facet of the Fallout series that is doing something that I am really astounded by: Getting young people listening to, and interested in, Jazz and vintage popular music.
Let me explain unless you’ve been living under a rock or had a social life from the ages of 12-18: Fallout is a post-apocalyptic survival and quest based game where your character survived the nuclear holocaust in a bunker for well over 200 years and has to find their way in the radically different world. It’s a fascinating concept really! You can go to all the Boston attractions like the Old State House, Fenway Park or the Boston Public Library but be ready to fight off raiders, feral ghouls (humans that have been exposed to so much radiation that they act like and resemble zombies), and super mutants. While you’re fighting, scavenging, and looking for your kidnapped son Sean, you have the option of listening to a classical radio station or Diamond City Radio through a pre-war device called a pip-boy that you are given before you leave the vault. Said radio stations are really extensive soundtracks composed of greats like Nat King Cole, Skeeter Davis, Betty Hurton, The Andrews Sisters, Cole Porter, and Bing Crosby as well as some lesser remembered artists like Bob Crosby & the Bob Cats, Elton Britt, and a multitude of others. Fallout New Vegas andFallout 3have their own versions of this concept as well with Mojave Music Radio and Galaxy News Radio respectively all with similar artists on the roster.
All of these artists aren’t exactly well known today yet along among teenagers and young adults but I bet you if you were listening to them on a speaker a good few people would recognize them who weren’t over the age of 80. In fact it’s come so far that I’ve met some people who were partially inspired to take up an instrument because of how much they enjoyed listening to the Fallout soundtrack much like how many people of my parent’s generation (and to a lesser extent my own) took up music because of The Muppets or Tom and Jerry. This franchise has been getting people into all this wonderful music that would’ve otherwise been forgotten for over a decade now and I’m very glad to see it. I myself was, in no small part, introduced to many artists that have quickly become favorites through listening to these radio stations.
I encourage you to listen through some of these artists and find a bit of joy in them as myself and many others have.