Sign in to follow this  
Top Gun

OCR policy on non-game game music?

Recommended Posts

Something I've been wondering for a little while: does OCR have a policy on submissions of songs that appeared on a gaming system yet weren't from a specific game? The best example I can think of is from the Wii: a few of the menu channels have background music to them, and while I'm not sure who composed the songs, they're pretty catchy. The OneUps did a great live version of the Mii Channel theme a couple of years ago at PAX, and I thought it'd be cool for something similar to wind up on OCR someday, if it'd be allowed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our policy is that it has to have been written for a game, not a game system. So unfortunately the Wii music is not eligible as source material.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really? Is that the official word? That's kind of...unfortunate. I understand the POINT of the guidelines being set up the way they are (so people don't go doing Star War remixes when they're not really video game remixes), but I'd think with the Wii channel that the music was written specifically for a video game console, and while it's not specifically a "video game" it really wouldn't be confused or used anywhere else...

...granted it's going to be PRETTY RARE where this stuff comes up, and we don't necessarily want people remixes bootup sounds (is there even enough source there?), and then maybe some TV has games on it and has music on other menus and creates a problem with the system, it just seems like exceptions could be made where appropriate.

Again, it makes sense it's just...kind of unfortunately. Definitely kind of a grey area.

Edit: In fact, I think if an argument can be made for Mario Paint, an argument could be made for the Mii Channel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Our policy is that it has to have been written for a game, not a game system. So unfortunately the Wii music is not eligible as source material.

I hear you, but I would like to see that policy re-evaluated. To include music from game systems, as well as games, would serve the spirit of OCR's mission statement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is the official word. I think the reasoning for that decision is because the Wii console music is still written for a console, and not a game. For a long time now OCR has had a pretty strict policy that only original game music is eligible as a source. Not game trailers, game commercials, licensed music, etc. I'm pretty sure this came directly from Dave but I've brought it up in staff chat for a discussion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That is the official word. I think the reasoning for that decision is because the Wii console music is still written for a console, and not a game. For a long time now OCR has had a pretty strict policy that only original game music is eligible as a source. Not game trailers, game commercials, licensed music, etc. I'm pretty sure this came directly from Dave but I've brought it up in staff chat for a discussion.

Yeah. I think music from game trailers and other promos, which usually either also appears in a game's OST or wasn't written for the game at all, are rightfully excluded, but there's a distinction between that and music written for a game system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I hear you, but I would like to see that policy re-evaluated. To include music from game systems, as well as games, would serve the spirit of OCR's mission statement.

We did have this discussion, at length, internally. While it may seem like splitting hairs, picking nits, or being otherwise far too analytical, I do think it's actually IMPORTANT to define what video game music really IS. When you pick the term apart, we don't have too much trouble with "music" - while Doug's all-percussive CT mix made us scratch our heads as to whether melody was a requirement, which we decided wasn't the case, generally speaking we're all more or less in agreement on what constitutes music. So that's good...

... But what's a video game? As luck would have it, we're working on a data dictionary w/ definitions of how we're defining different terms, and we've got our first entry @ http://ocremix.org/info/Game

OverClocked ReMix defines a game as:

"Interactive visual entertainment software designed to execute on a specific platform, with an emphasis on challenge and goals." Each individual game in our database is described independent of the following criteria:

  • Localization (language, PAL vs. NTSC, etc.)
  • Minor revisions (e.g. collector's editions)
  • Inclusion in compilations

For example, the following items do not meet this definition:

  • Compilations consisting primarily of previously released material
  • Compilations with a wide variety of non-gaming content (e.g. magazine discs)
  • Emulation of a game (e.g. the Wii's Virtual Console)
  • Software that is primarily educational/informative or explorative in nature (sometimes referred to as "non-games")
  • Software that is primarily a creative tool or utility, with minimal gaming elements (e.g. eJay series, Korg DS-10)

So Mario Paint is completely relevant and I'm glad Doug mentioned it, because it sits right on the border. Based on the above definition, it has "trouble" in the tool-or-utility clause, specifically, and more generally with the overall concept of "challenge" being a factor in some way. Mario Paint was released FOR a game console, sure, but does every single piece of software released for a game console instantly become a game, by virtue of the hardware it's executing on?

I'm sorry, but I'm going with an emphatic NO. Traveling dictionaries for the DS are not games. Multimedia Encyclopedias for earlier CD-ROM systems were not games. If you expand out a bit and look not just at gaming-specific platforms, but at generalist platforms like Windows, you wouldn't have to think twice - the Windows startup sound is not a game, nor is the music that plays during the introduction/tour on first installation. So where does the Mii Music fit in? It's more or less an OS-level utility... it doesn't meaningfully involve challenge, it's a generalist application at the OS level that is used to create avatars that can then be employed in other games. If the same thing existed on Windows, and those same avatars could be used in Word, Excel, etc., what then? The definition of a game, for us, is more specific than utilities offered by the OS, even if that OS was specifically tailored for gaming-oriented hardware.

I don't even know what gaming-oriented hardware is anymore, for one - with Netflix running on everything, web browsers becoming common even on handhelds, etc., while the hardware we buy for gaming is marketed primarily for that purpose, it really achieves quite a bit more. That line is only going to keep on blurring, and the argument that utilities for avatar creation are "games" will only keep weakening as that occurs.

It's not really in our interest to exclude software or music from eligibility - the more great tunes out there for artists to interpret, the better - but we're also pouring our blood, sweat & tears, and other bodily substances as well, into OC ReMix because of a specific love for VGM, and that love needs some sort of a definition, and in our opinion that definition should acknowledge the difference between writing music for a utility, OS-menu, etc., versus writing music for a game.

Did that change anyone's mind, or explain our stance more persuasively? We can keep talking about this, I'm all ears, but like I said, we did think it through internally, at length, and I remain convinced we made an appropriate decision and have an appropriate definition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Following that line of reasoning, your decision makes perfect sense. You have, indeed, changed my mind.

I'm curious to know, now, though, what is the OCR stance on Mario Paint's status as a game and justification therefor?

Right, I didn't really address that:

  1. Not a super-strong point, but mixes of it were accepted prior to the policy being clarified, so from a certain perspective it was KINDA grandfathered... but there's also:
  2. Its music was written by prominent game composers. By itself, this doesn't mean much, since the Mii creation theme fits the same bill, but it does help the case when combined with...
  3. Unlike Mii creation music, it was sold as software. This doesn't particularly help its case in any way, but it does mean that it can't be considered an OS-level utility... moving on:
  4. It features well-known game characters (Mario, etc.) that are strongly associated with games/gaming. Again, by itself, this would mean nothing, but it factors into the aggregate, with perhaps the most important point being:
  5. It includes mini-games (Gnat Attack, Title Screen) that DO involve a degree of challenge beyond simply creating stuff... and finally:
  6. From Wikipedia @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Paint: "Kazumi Totaka's Song is a 19-note song that appears in many Nintendo games. In Mario Paint, the song is an Easter egg, found on the front screen when a user clicks the O in "Mario Paint."[3] Although it has been referred to as the "Mario Paint song", its first appearance was in a Japanese-only Game Boy Game, X."

The last point essentially meaning that at least one of its potential sources did actually "begin life" in a traditional game, albeit hidden in the code. This bit of trivia wasn't really a factor when we clarified the policy and decided to leave Mario Paint intact, to be honest, but it still kinda-sorta strengthens the case. I think the presence of the mini-games was the most important point. NONE of these points are persuasive by themselves, but when you look at them together, I personally feel like it makes sense. Like I said, it's still borderline, but I'm comfortable the decision can be reconciled with our definition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That definition clears things up for me, too. :) The Windows sound analogy was a good one, since that was something I thought of too when asking the question. Even though hardware like the Wii and 360 are designed primarily for gaming, you're right in saying that there's a lot more that consoles can do now, so things like avatar and store menus don't necessarily have that direct connection to games.

While I'm thinking of Mii-related things, where would something like Wii Fit fall into place? It's ostensibly a fitness tool, but many of its activities are legitimate mini-games; it's sort of a similar idea to Mario Paint having the fun little fly-swatting game. I don't know how much memorable music it'd have in the first place, but it's a fun hypothetical.

(Heh, ninja'd.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this