OCR (as many have now come to know it by) is a website and online community devoted to the appreciation and promotion of video game music as an art form. Therein lies the first and most fundamental reason why I love this website.
Any one of us at Oxide can fully understand the struggle of trying to promote the value in a highly under-appreciated and often misunderstood art form. If you’re looking for a straight-uphill battle, just try to convince somebody off the street that anything having to do with video games is a legitimate art form, let alone the music from them. That said, if you haven’t heard it from somebody yet, please, take it from me: the creation of video games is, was, and always has been a legitimate art form, all of it. Not only that – but perhaps most importantly – the music.
Over the years I’ve developed the mentality that limits do not constrain or harm creativity. Instead, those very limits are what drives creativity. Composers of video game music, especially those that were developed on the most early of consoles, had to find a way to create music that was compelling and memorable using only a few channels and sounds – and frankly, the results were incredible. Video game music composers during the 8-bit and 16-bit eras of gaming were truly gifted creative problem solvers and their work should be recognized and celebrated.
The OCR community is loaded with accomplished and highly talented artists from across the world doing absolutely free fan arrangements based on music from the games that we all grew up with and came to love. They’re also putting their talents to work on exciting new releases ranging from gaming industry staples like Street Fighter to independent titles like Kaleidoscope and Return All Robots. Community members have also been professionally involved in composing parts of the soundtracks for major releases like Mass Effect 2 and Soul Calibur 5 and have even gone on to create whole albums of original compositions which are completely inspired by video game music.
All that aside, these artists have come together to create a strong, welcoming, and supportive community in which they can have fun doing what they love: creating music. Moreover, they have a set of submission standards which upcoming musicians can strive to meet – a set of limits to drive creativity, if you will – which is overseen by a panel of community-selected judges. The judging process in-and-of-itself is a simple quality control system, but it also serendipitously creates a viable goal: to get your mix posted on the homepage. This creates an environment where members of the community can better themselves and each other in the process to achieve that goal through constructive criticism.
And the music is fantastic!
For me, the love all started with a song called Permutation, sourced from the Fear Factory theme from Donkey Kong Country. I was astounded not only by the overall quality of the arrangement, but by the amazing vocals. From there the list goes on and on, from driving rock anthems to thumping dance music; from 80’s themed pop to sweeping piano masterpieces; even something called a ska buffet. I encourage everybody who reads this to click on at least one of the examples I’ve set before you and try not to smile as you listen.