March 21, 2011 6:00 AM | jeriaska
Laura Shigihara's cover of "Ue o Muite Aruko"
Since the Fukushima earthquake, game developers in Japan have sought to express their sympathy for those struggling through the severe effects of the natural disaster. Shows of solidarity have taken the form of fundraisers and donations, as well as creative expressions of hope. Grasshopper Manufacture's Akira Yamaoka and Mistwalker's Hironobu Sakaguchi have both uploaded songs dedicated to those persevering through the recent hardships.
Composers of independently financed game titles have been spearheading their own efforts to show support for victims of the earthquake and tsunamis. Last Thursday, Baiyon, who is contributing design to Q-Games' PixelJunk Lifelike music visualizer, held a benefit at Club Metro in Kyoto. Performing a DJ set not unlike those witnessed by attendees of the two most recent Game Developers Conference events, the musician sold copies of a mix CD called "Sembrado," with proceeds going to disaster relief.
Two days earlier, Melolune designer Laura Shigihara posted a cover of Kyu Sakamoto's "Ue o Muite Aruko" to YouTube, expressing concern for her relatives in Japan. Translated literally as "I look up as I walk," Sakamoto's lyrics describe the speaker as keeping his chin up and whistling to keep the tears from falling. The Japanese-language song, originally recorded in 1961, topped the charts in the United States when it was released two years later. The game composer writes in the video's summary, "I've always thought this was a beautiful song... it's about keeping a smile on your face and hope in your heart even though times are really tough."
Just today, participants of the MAGFest game and music festival announced that they will be holding a fundraiser through Ustream, inviting the participation of composers of Alpha Squad and Retro City Rampage. Stemage and Virt, among other artists, have offered to cover music from any game in return for donations. Their services will be auctioned off on Sunday, March 27, with all proceeds going to the Red Cross. Other fundraiser compilations include LiFETONES / PRAY for JP (proceeds for Civic Force), featuring music by independent game composer I Am Robot and Proud, as well as Chip In: Japan! (proceeds for First Giving Service), featuring chipmusic by Crashfaster, the composer of Knifetank.