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Creating a Contest for Berklee Online and Campus Students


In August 2016, Rosie Samter of the Videri String Quartet approached Berklee’s Video Game Music Club (VGMC) leaders with the idea of a scoring contest specifically related to video games. While Berklee has created similar contests before, it is very rare for the contest to be video game centric, and this time, we at the VGMC were determined to add a special twist. That special twist was allowing Berklee Online students to participate in the contest with the same ease that on-campus students have. Becoming a Berklee Online student after being a student at the Boston campus for three semesters myself, I quickly realized how different the sense of community is online versus in-person. While a Boston campus/Berklee Online collaborative initiative can be difficult to produce, we felt this would be an ideal way to include Online students. And thus, the Berklee Video Game Scoring Contest of Fall 2016 commenced!

We first decided participants would score to a linear clip from the popular video game The Last Guardian, giving the contestants a proper challenge. Once we had the rules and files ready to go, we launched the contest and slowly the entries trickled in. After extending the deadline to allow some extra time for participants, the contest closed and we received 21 total entries to hand over to our four judges, Marti Epstein and Michael Sweet (Berklee faculty members who teach both online and in Boston), as well as well-known independent game composers Jason Graves and Zack Parrish. The judges offered tremendous feedback for each entry. We are incredibly grateful to Marti, Michael, Jason, and Zack for their involvement in this contest.

The next step was finding prizes! This proved to be incredibly fun, and surprisingly one of the easiest portions to the contest. 8Dio, Heavyocity, the Video Game Music Academy, and the Videri String Quartet were all eager to help out and our we ended up with over $1500 worth of prizes, as detailed below:

  • 1st Place: Winner will receive a $1,000 8Dio voucher, live performance by the Videri String Quartet, a recording by Videri, and a T-shirt from the Video Game Music Academy
  • 2nd Place: Winner will receive a Heavyocity software instrument bundle, live performance by the Videri String Quartet, a recording by Videri, and a T-shirt from the Video Game Music Academy
  • 3rd Place: Winner will receive a live performance by the Videri String Quartet, a recording by Videri, and a T-shirt from the Video Game Music Academy
  • Honorable mention will receive a recording by Videri and a T-shirt from the Video Game Music Academy

Our most difficult hurdle was finding a venue and support for the physical concert date. Berklee venues are incredibly popular not only with students, but visiting artists as well. We eventually secured a venue for February 11, 2017 and decided to stream the concert live via Twitch.

Overall, this was an incredibly successful contest! Three of our five prize winners are Berklee Online students, and we couldn’t be more proud. Thank you to all who participated, and to all those who helped out in the process!

I’d like to extend a huge congratulations to our winners:

  • 1st Place: Jessica Tam*
  • Tied 2nd Place: Ricardo Chiesa
  • Tied 2nd Place: Dan Clingman*
  • 3rd Place: Jeff Penny*
  • Honorable mention: Lydia Downard

*Berklee Online students

The concert will be live streamed on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 7PM at the following link: https://www.twitch.tv/videogamemusicclub

The concert is also open to the public. If you live in the Boston area and would like to attend the concert, check out the full details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/407476629585939/

Alex Ripple Parrish is an audio ninja and the founder of Pearl Pixel Audio. She is currently finishing her degree online with Berklee, and aspires to one day establish a career as a composer.
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