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Recently during the NCAA Southland Championship between Northwestern State and Texas A&M Corpus Christi, eagle-eared League of Legends fans may have heard a familiar tune. ESPN was playing the League of Legends Champion Select Theme. It’s not the first time video game music has found a moment to break through into the mainstream, nor will it be the last. But the bigger question that we have is: why doesn’t it happen more?

Everyone Plays Video Games

Though the stigma of being ‘just for kids’ is slowly fading with every passing year, video games are hardly a child’s pastime anymore. The Nintendo Entertainment System was released in 1986, 37 years ago. Which means all those Nintendo babies are adults now and some of them have gotten jobs with such responsibilities as choosing music to play on ESPN. Or putting them in positions to choose sound effects and celebratory alerts for when the Cleveland Guardians score a Homerun.

Last year Kotaku wrote about NBA Player Jarrett Allen (also a Cleveland player) and his love for The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. When asked what special sound he wanted to play whenever he scored, he said, “It took me about 10 seconds to come up with the perfect one. Short and sweet.” Referring to the iconic Secret Theme from the long running Nintendo franchise.

Just earlier this year on the official NBA YouTube Channel, the theme of Bowser’s Castle was used during a highlight video for when the Charlotte Hornets defeated the Milwaukee Bucks. Video Game music and Traditional Sports are crossing over more and more every year.

Respect the Game (Music)

Music has become such a massive part of Video Games, but when you separate it from the game itself, even those who don’t have an interest in gaming can still find enjoyment in the music. The music isn’t reliant on the game, it just serves to enhance the experience and increase the immersion.

Nobuo Uematsu, the legendary composer for the Final Fantasy video games is so prolific that in Japan, students were learning about his work in 2005, 18 years ago! There are even college courses in the United States that study his music and others from the world of video games. Entire musical tours are dedicated to the discography of Final Fantasy and other video games.

Even the 2020 Tokyo Olympics leaned into video game music with their entire opening ceremony inspired by music from Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy to Monster Hunter and Kingdom Hearts.

It’s becoming increasingly common now for video game companies to put their soundtracks on Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming platforms. So don’t be surprised if you start to hear more and more familiar arrangements from your favorite games in mainstream media and sports.