Vinyl’s comeback has been huge. A new generation of people are falling in love with the crackle, ritual and physical experience of holding and reading a record while listening to music. Out of that entire culture is a very niche, but every growing subculture, of people that enjoy video game music on vinyl. According to Blip Blop, a website dedicated to Video Game Vinyl (VGM vinyl), 2016 had around 90 releases on vinyl, while 2017 has nearly 130. Not only is that a huge jump from the previous year, but that’s essentially one VGM Vinyl release every 3 days. So what’s the big deal? Why do people care? Let’s take a look at the various reasons why people buy VGM Vinyl, and vinyl as a whole.
The love of vinyl has come back, and in full force. Stores everywhere from Target to Barnes and Nobles are carrying Crosley record players. Now, despite those players being bad for your vinyl, and that’s a separate discussion for a different day, people are still loving the physical format. They have fallen in love with the artwork of the record that they can now see in 12 in x 12 in format. Grabbing the record out of the sleeve and placing it on the record player is a cathartic ritual for many.
Placing and dropping the needle on the record and hearing the crackle as you kick back with a nice glass of whiskey or a cold beer is a stress reliever and mood pick-me-upper unlike any other.
As a whole, it seems people love all of that and more. They love being able to display their music in all of it’s glory on a shelf or in a crate. IT acts as a bookshelf of your musical catalog in a way. It’s a great way for someone to see what music their friends are into or a great conversation starter.
But for the love of god, why video game vinyl?
Video Games and their music
Video games have done so much for so many people. For some, it is a way to communicate to others in a virtual space that they may not interact with in person. For others, it is a stress reliever and a way to escape the perils of life, if not, for just an hour or so. You can be an average Joe pulling heists, or a superhero saving lives. Hell, playing a person with a cup for a head while you do the contracts the devil gives you is even an option. Regardless of the type of genre, story, controls, platform or even year the game came out, people attach themselves to games for different reasons.
The music that is included in a majority of these games can serve more than just a soundtrack for a game, but as an added layer of immersion and emotion. The music can really affect a scene. Take games with fantastic soundtracks like Ori and the Blind Forest or Hollow Knight or even a game like Doom. The soundtracks not only accentuated the games, but also the emotions in that game. Ori made you feel emotional, Hollow Knight instilled a sense of wonderment while Doom made you aggressive and filled with adrenaline. These emotions may be something that gamers want to revisit. Add on to the fact that the music may bring back the nostalgic fond memories of playing the game with friends or family and the value of the music only goes up.
For me personally, I revisit the Sonic Adventure Battle 2 Soundtrack on vinyl very often because of the fond memories I have of that game as a child. The music always stood out to me and sounded ‘cool’ to me as a kid. In that same token, I’ll spin the Rocket League soundtrack when I want to focus because that repetitive style of music helps me zone in on a task.
A E S T H E T I C
The packaging and love put into video game vinyl is another attractive reason. For one, a lot of the companies that put out VGM on vinyl are generally fans of the games they are releasing and pressing on wax. Black Screen Records, Ship To Shore Phono Co, The Yetee, Data Discs, iam8bit, and Laced Records are just a few of the players in the VGM vinyl space that put a lot of effort into their releases. From prints and posters, to stickers or even artwork on the record sleeves, labels do as much as they feasibly can to present the best product to their fans. I will add that the additional aesthetics will tack on to the price, with some x2LP Releases being as much as $50 with shipping included.
Overall, the VGM vinyl scene is thriving and I look forward to all future releases. The community is fantastic and with a lot of labels popping up releasing their own work, whether it’s cover albums done by Materia Collective, or game devs selling the vinyl on their site (Supergiant Games), the stream of good music is never depleted. If you have an interest in video game music, check out the subreddit VGMVinyl to keep up with some of the latest releases. Also, check out the Blip Blop for more information!