Tripod, creators of possibly the geekiest three-part harmonies in existence and once described as “a bit too Christian a capella for my liking,” performed a concert on Friday night of Melbourne’s PAX Australia expo as a preview of their upcoming show This Gaming Life. Part of the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Tripod has teamed up with Grammy-winner Austin Wintory, composer of the soundtrack for Journey, and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with This Gaming Life, a musical tribute to a shared love of video games. I had a chance to catch up with Yon from Tripod, to ask him a bit about his personal love of video games; the future of This Gaming Life; and his opinion on keyboard warriors.
Britt: What sort of games do you like playing the most?
Yon: I don’t know if you saw our show last night but I kind of gravitate towards games that have guns in them. That being said, I have played Journey. That’s just between you and me. My favourite game for a while is The Last of Us and I just got the new PS4 version and I’m going to replay it on that.
What do you feel is an aspect of video game culture that could be improved?
Just I think it goes beyond video game culture what I’m about to say. People who just sit at their keyboard and hate on people. I sort of think maybe before you start typing, think would you say this to someone’s face? And clearly that’s a big thing at the moment in the gaming world, but it’s happening all over.
This Gaming Life, do you plan to bring it to Sydney?
Absolutely. It’s all a matter of getting the orchestra on board. So if this goes well in Melbourne, the plan is to do Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. We’ve wanted to do an orchestra show for ages. I don’t know if you know our show Tripod vs. the Dragon, but that was originally, we started writing it to perform with an orchestra and it just didn’t happen. We ended up just turning it into a 4 member thing; it was very lo-fi, which had its own charm. But we still hadn’t satisfied that yearning. Then we bumped into Andrew from the MSO and he was like “let’s do something together”. He was a fan. It was kind of funny coz he was a fan of the show he ended up doing as 4 hander. So we ended up saying “let’s do a show about games, but go deep”. So hopefully it’s relatable for other people, but we’ve gone personal, we’ve really gone about talking about our own experiences, so hopefully it’s kind of universal. We didn’t just want to pack it full of references or something that people will laugh at. There might be the odd one, you can’t help it, but I want it to be funny, but hopefully a celebration of games.
So when will we see you guys in Sydney?
Well we are coming back to do Perfect Tripod, that’s pretty much confirmed, we’ve been doing this show with Eddie Perfect and I think that’s happening in May, just after This Gaming Life in April.
One of the songs in your show is about the unrealistic portrayal of female characters in video games. What are your thoughts on that?
It’s not that different to what goes on in film I reckon. In any art form, you want everything to be represented in a way that is meaningful and I think the problem is that games have matured and it has reached a point where we can now expect games to treat women in the same way that we expect films to. But there are still going to be films… like, Michael Bay is still going to make films that are no worse (I mean, they’re terrible films), but politically they’re horrible. And I think it’s just we are on that tipping point and games like GTA which are considered by gamers to be quality games still have that one thing where people go “we all think this game is great and really smart, but why does it do that?”. So I definitely love games like Last of Us. Such a great example of a female character. That game blows me away. I don’t think anyone would argue, even the worst hater would agree that that is great and we should see more of that in games.
How long have you been a gamer for?
I reckon I got more serious, I’ve dropped in and out, but probably early 90s was when I got a PC that could play games. Tie Fighter was the first game I really got into. As a kid, games were only in arcades, so I used to do that, play Space Invaders and the odd game like that, but I would count from when I first got a PC and I started to get really into it?
What was the game that pulled you down the rabbit hole of being a gamer?
Probably is Tie Fighter. I was a huge star wars fan as a kid and that was my in. I enjoyed that there was a bit of depth to it. There have been various things along the way, clearly Last of Us has got me going again from what I said before, but that [Tie Fighter] would be the one.
As a musician, how important do you think soundtracks are in games?
I think it varies. Sometimes some games, again Last of Us, music was so sparingly used and so perfect. Going back to Tie Fighter, it was essential in that, Even though it was very early in the days of music and what they could do, it was only MIDI, they couldn’t use full audio because it wouldn’t fit on the disc. But it was all event driven. So the enemy would come on the screen and DA DA DA DA DA DA DA, so it would move with the action. It was so dynamic. I don’t understand how game composers do that. I’m talking to a lot of people here trying to get my head around it because it seems really complicated to me. Some games it’s not important, when I play Battlefield I don’t think there is any music, I don’t want music, it depends on the game.
Xbox, PC or PlayStation?
Well Tripod had an agreement that we would all get the same console this time around. Last generation, Scotty had an Xbox and Gatesy and I both had a PlayStation. So we agreed we would get the same, and we hadn’t decided which it was going to be, because it was pretty neck and neck for us which one we were going to get, but then Gateseys friend bought him a PS4 so we went “okay, we’ll all get a PS4”
If you had all three in front of you and the same game in them all?
Probably a PC. But I haven’t played a game on a PC in years, because I got sick of having to upgrade my computer, it annoyed me. Maybe it’s because I’m old now but I don’t want to tinker. I understand people who want to be able to configure and tinker and have their own rig, but I don’t want to do it, I don’t have time to do that, I just want to put a game in and play.