The Grammy Awards 2023 marked the arrival of the first ever dedicated award category for video game soundtracks. While these albums had not been excluded in the past – in 2022, a Kirby arrangement was nominated for an award, and a piece from Civilization IV previously won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement – the Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media Award was established to celebrate the legacy and achievement of composers specifically working in the video game scene.
This year, the award has gone to composer Stephanie Economou for her work on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok, the epic DLC story bringing the world of Norse mythology to life.
In her speech, Economou thanked everyone who fought for the establishment of the video games category at the Grammys, and those who validated ‘the power of game music’.
As Economou noted, video game soundtracks have often been ignored during awards season, despite other media soundtracks, including film and television scores, being highly considered. Finally celebrating video games in the long-running Grammy Awards is a positive sign of change, and may lead to these scores being recognised on more global stages in future.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla beat out several other games to win the first ever Grammy Award for video games. The nominations for the award included:
- Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Austin Wintory, composer
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok, Stephanie Economou, composer [WINNER]
- Call Of Duty: Vanguard, Bear McCreary, composer
- Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Richard Jacques, composer
- Old World, Christopher Tin, composer
In early 2022, GamesHub spoke to Economou about her work on Dawn of Ragnarok, and she had this to say about the creation of the tale’s sweeping, now award-winning soundtrack:
‘In early discussions with the creative team, they mentioned wanting the sound for this score to be somewhat of a departure from Valhalla. The game developers were interested in exploring influences of black metal for the score, which I thought was a really exciting and unexpected challenge, so I set out to design the sound of the Muspels, Jötnar, and Surtr (our nemesis) to reflect the black metal style.’
‘Much of the score weaves between that tonal palette and a more neo-folk and primitive orchestral lens to give the story the emotional breadth and power I felt it needed.’
We congratulate Economou on her win – and look forward to many more years of celebrating video games at the annual Grammy Awards, and beyond.