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The Influence of our Industry

July 26, 2008

A few months ago, Rockstar Games released a strong collection of games up on Steam. I purchased the Max Payne collection, having always wanted to play Max Payne. I had previously downloaded the soundtrack to Max Payne 2 as background music while I worked on the “Causation” comic (which I do promise to get back to at some point). In the midst of listening to the soundtrack, I discovered the song “Late Goodbye” by Poets of the Fall, and began to wonder, “Who are these guys?”

Well, thanks to Max Payne 2, their career took off. It’s been making me wonder, for a while, just how much influence it must take for a video game to jump start a band’s career.

If memory serves me correctly, the original Max Payne was in development for about… 3 or 4 years? It almost hit vaporware in the process (3D Realms has a knack for that) but they got it out and it became a hit.

Jump ahead about a year and a half later, and all of a sudden, Max Payne 2 was released, and with it, “Late Goodbye.” 3D Realms/Remedy/Rockstar had already established a strong following with the first Max Payne, released a sequel in a very acceptable amount of time, and had a strong theme song by a then unknown band to back it up. Of course, this meant that just about every person who played Max Payne 2 would become interested in who this band was. At the time, they had (as far as I know) no other songs released. With over two million copies of Max Payne 2/Late Goodbye sold, it was an easy way to establish a following.

Since then this band has released three albums (Signs of Life, Carnival of Rust, and Revolution Roulette). Why is this such a big deal? Because they are from Finland. It’s not often you get to promote a band from a completely different country. It’s also not often that bands from that country write a song for a game developed in that same country that is to be released mainly for an audience in a different country. The circumstances just seem ridiculous to me.

This is the kind of influence we, as game designers, can have on the world. We can jump start not only our own careers by making a great game, but the careers of people struggling to survive in completely different industries. Games are now such a widely accepted (and revered) art form that all you have to do is slip a garage band’s song in there and when your game is a hit, their song is a hit. It’s a shared glory.

Also, just to fanboy Poets of the Fall a bit, I am going to say that their music is better than most stuff that has come out of America in the last five years. Heck, probably the last ten. I linked to the albums on iTunes above because you have to pay import prices if you order off of Amazon (about $45 per CD, as opposed to iTunes’ $9.99. You do the math). I’ve had their albums on repeat for about a week now, can’t get enough of ’em.

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