North American Conference on Video Game Music

5th Annual Conference   

January 13-14, 2018
School of Music, Theatre & Dance
University of Michigan

The NACVGM brings together scholars in the fields of musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, media studies, sound studies, composition, and more to discuss all aspects of music in video games. Topics at past conferences have included case studies of influential games and composers, technology and its impact on game music, teaching game music, analyzing game music, and music’s relationship to game narratives.

The 2018 program and organizational committee for the conference is composed of:

Matthew Thompson Lead Organizer (University of Michigan)
Karen Cook Program Chair (University of Hartford)
James Buhler (University of Texas, Austin)
Neil Lerner (Davidson College)
Elizabeth Medina-Gray (Ithaca College)
Dana Plank (Ohio State University)
Steven Reale (Youngstown State University)

Marty O’Donnell (Saturday, January 13)

Marty O’Donnell earned his Masters of Music Degree in Composition with honors from USC in 1981. He then founded the Chicago-based commercial music and sound production company, TotalAudio, which in 1997 produced sound design for Cyan’s Riven, the Sequel to Myst, and created all of the audio for Bungie’s award winning Myth series. His body of work also includes numerous original scores for television, radio, and film.

In the spring of 2000, ten days after Marty accepted a position as Bungie’s Audio Director and Composer, Microsoft purchased the studio and moved them to Redmond so they could focus their efforts on developing Halo for the Xbox platform launch. The highly acclaimed Halo series went on to be extremely successful, with Halo 3 shattering entertainment records for both single day and first week sales, and with the total number of Halo games played now tallied in the billions.

The audio and music for the Halo series has received numerous honors and awards, including the Game Developers Choice Award, the Edge Award, Rolling Stone Magazine’s Best Game Soundtrack, and Best Sound/Music from the AIAS, IGDA, GANG, TEC, and Spike TV. The critically acclaimed soundtracks are also best sellers.

In July of 2007, Marty became one of the partners in the once again independent Bungie. His final project with them, Destiny, featured music in collaboration with Sir Paul McCartney. In addition to creating and overseeing sound design, music, and implementation, Marty also did the casting and directing of all the voice acting for Bungie’s games. The music and audio from Destiny have won several awards including Best Audio and Best Music from the AIAS. He was awarded GANG’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

Marty is co-founder and co-owner of Highwire Games in Seattle. Their first title, Golem, is an exclusive title for Playstation VR and will be released later this year. He is also composed and produced Echoes of the First Dreamer, the musical prequel to Golem, which is available now.

Marty O’Donnell Music LLC

William Gibbons (Sunday, January 14)

Dr. William Gibbons is Associate Professor of Musicology and Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Texas Christian University, where he teaches courses in contemporary music history and culture. His interdisciplinary research explores topics including musical canons and repertoires, as well as the history and interpretation of music in multimedia.

Gibbons’s scholarship has been published in a wide range of academic journals, as well as essay collections including Ludomusicology, The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media, Debugging Game History, and The Routledge Companion to Screen Music and Sound, as well as forthcoming contributions to The Oxford Handbook of the Operatic Canon and The Oxford Handbook of Music and Advertising.

He is the author of the 2013 book Building the Operatic Museum: Eighteenth-Century Opera in fin-de-siècle Paris (University of Rochester Press), which explores issues of nationalism, historicism, and culture through the evolution of the modern operatic repertoire. In 2014 he co-edited the essay collection Music in Video Games: Studying Play for Routledge Press, and is currently co-editing a second volume for Routledge, tentatively titled Music in the Role-Playing Game: Heroes & Harmonies.
His new book, Unlimited Replays: The Art of Classical Music in Video Games, is forthcoming in early 2018 from Oxford University Press. This study examines the complex relationship between classical music and games from a variety of perspectives, covering topics from the prominence of classical music in early game soundtracks to the rise of orchestral game music performances today.

An advocate for public engagement, Gibbons frequently collaborates as guest speaker and program annotator with arts organizations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, including the Dallas Symphony, the Dallas Winds, and the Fort Worth Opera Festival. He also performs regularly as a collaborative pianist, most recently performing concerts in the US and France as part of the Ataraxia Duo, an ensemble dedicated to commissioning and performing contemporary works for flute and piano.

2017: University of Austin, Texas
Jim Buhler, lead organizer
2017 Program

2016: Davidson College
Neil Lerner, lead organizer
2016 Program

2015: Texas Christian University
William Gibbons, lead organizer
2015 Program

2014: Youngstown State University
Steven Reale, lead organizer
2014 Abstracts

Matthew Thompson
School of Music, Theatre & Dance
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2085