Jina lako litukuzwe: on the first video game song to be nominated for a Grammy

A close friend of mine, Jireh Chua, once told me how he was moved to tears upon learning that “Baba Yetu,” the theme song from 2K Games’s Civilization IV is The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili. He said the song taught him that, “The story of the human race is not the pride of achievement but coming to terms with our common identity and celebrating our blessedness.”

Little did any of us know that it would go on to become the first video game song to be nominated for a Grammy. Even Christopher Tin (pictured above), the composer who received the nomination, stated he “had never dreamed it possible.” Little did I know how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to hear this song performed live at Video Games Live.

As we celebrate this milestone for the video game industry, I want all of us whose lives have been shaped by video games to remember this moment, to remember that we were alive during the era when video games started to become recognized for their contributions to art and entertainment, and to remember how we feel more alive when we play video games.

Excuse me for sounding like a broken record on the subject of video game music, but I felt it appropriate to reiterate: the pride of us as video game music enthusiasts is not just in this incredible achievement of Christopher Tin’s Grammy nomination, it is in our common identity we have when we sit in a concert hall remembering that one moment in a game when that music played. It is in celebrating together, at that moment, how blessed we are to be touched by video game music and to be offered the amazing opportunity to play.

Baba yetu yetu uliye, Jina lako litukuzwe—hallowed be thy name—that unnamed experience that shaped video games to be what it is today.