September Bitmob Writing Challenge: Concept Album

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In an article on Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game that I wrote recently, I briefly mentioned that the title has an amazing soundtrack by Anamanaguchi. Every video-game genre has great soundtracks to offer; James DeRosa's Bitmob Community Jukebox playlists showcased this.

But I've got a problem: If the music is so great, why do most articles only spend a sentence or two on it? In my article, I used a single adjective. Often video-game reviews have too much ground to cover to spend time on music, and most articles don’t reference it unless it's an interview with the composer.

That should change.

The Prompt

If the music community OC Remix can create entire albums out of video-game music, journalists can surely write more than a paragraph on the subject. After all, a title's soundtrack is a lot like a concept album: It tells the story of the visuals and the gameplay. Here's what to do:


1) Choose the soundtrack of any video game. Soundtracks that use licensed songs — like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or Rock Band — are fine.

2) Write a 400- to 800-word article on the soundtrack and how it works with the game. Why did the developers go with a rock, techno, or orchestral soundtrack? Why is the music upbeat or moody? In the case of licensed music, are the tracks selected to create an overall mood, or do they feel thrown together? 

3) While you can link YouTube videos in your posts, please do not embed them directly into your article. Imagine that you’re writing for Rolling Stone, and you have to explain why a song is good without any auditory aids. Here's is an example of what not to do, followed by an example of what I'm looking for:

Incorrect: Noel’s theme fits her character perfectly.

See? It’s so sad!

Correct: Noel’s theme "Bullet Dance" is not only an excellent song, it also reflects her tragic role in Blazblue’s story.

4) When possible, try to include both the song’s official name (“Bullet Dance”) and the context it appears in which it appears (Noel’s theme song). If you can't find the official name of a tune, just use the context it appears in the game without quotation marks (ex: Mega Man X's Storm Eagle Stage.)

5) If the song selection in the English and Japanese versions is different, use the English version. For example, Kingdom Hearts' intro song is called “Simple and Clean" while in Japan it's called “Hikari.” You would use the former since that’s the song SquareEnix chose for English audiences.

In general, don’t spend too much time on version differences: Final Fantasy 13's soundtrack features over 60 songs, so why nitpick on whether the main theme should be a J-pop love song instead of a Leona Lewis love song?

6) Post the article with the tag "concept album" by September 30, 2010.

I’ll post a sample in the coming weeks. Until then, listen to the music in your heart.

Also, I've got a two pieces Bitmob Community Writing Challenge housekeeping:

1) If you’re still working on the Comics Zone challenge, I’ve extended the deadline to September 5, so get to drawing.

2) Since Michael Rousseau has stepped back from writing challenges, I’m looking for someone who would be willing alternate managing them each month. You should be able to commit to writing an introductory piece, an example article, a midway reminder, and a final collected-works post throughout the month.

Working with the writing challenge is a great way of getting to know other writers and showing people that you can take initiative. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested!

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 2.00.11 PMGamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!
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