Building VGMdb, A Videogame Music Database

By Jeriaska . November 14, 2008 . 6:45pm


Since the website opened late last year, the stated goal of VGMdb has been to comprehensively archive the world’s videogame music albums. Other resources predate the work undertaken by the database’s countless contributors, but few have managed to cast as wide a net while keeping translated track lists, scans and release information as well organized. Just recently a feature was added to the site allowing users to upload multiple scans simultaneously, encouraging the continued growth of the extensive offering of liner notes. Site administrator Secret Squirrel joined us to discuss the website’s creation and what it aims to achieve in the future. According to him the reasoning behind the enormous undertaking was simple: “We felt there was a need for a ‘next generation’ game album information site that combined the best features of the existing sites, mitigated the limitations, and added some new ideas that hadn’t been seen anywhere before.”

 

 

Building on the efforts of the staffs of Chudah’s Corner and Game Music Revolution, mainstream game soundtracks are not the only items included in VGMdb. International fan creations known as Doujins make up a significant percentage of the overall content. The database recently passed the 10,000 album mark and added its one millionth page view to the list of milestones. Integral to the process has been the support of Bysmitty.com, a contributor of PC game track lists, and Koshiro Fukuaki, whose Japanese Game Music Library was researched and archived primarily by himself over the course of years.

 

According to Secret Squirrel, the database grew out of efforts by the owner of the Gamingforce gaming forums, to relaunch its audio component as an information resource in 2006. “About a year earlier, I had written a white paper describing what I wanted to see in a ‘next-generation’ VGM album database,” Secret Squirrel recalls, “so we started with that as an initial design document. Bobo coded up some prototype content management, but he got busy with school and the project lapsed, so Gigablah from the Gamingforce forums took over as head developer, and built the first iteration of the site.” When in 2007 Gamingforce temporarily shut down, the team expanded to include other members of the greater online community, many of whom have remained on the project since.

 

As for the content itself, just about every form of published musical expression related to videogames, whether physical or downloadable, has been included. When asked whether there was ever any consideration of leaving out fan arrangements or Japan’s erotic hentai games, the site administrator states plainly that there was not. “Western fan remix albums weren’t on our radar initially,” he says, “but once people started to add them to the database, we realized they fit in quite well. One of the major motivations for VGMdb was the opportunity to cover some of the albums that were generally rejected by other databases.”

 

 

As of this week, nearly three hundred people have contributed edits to the VGM database. The site’s designers maintain that the non-numerical milestones are just as significant to their feeling of having contributed to the online videogame music community. “The most memorable for me was when Shinji Hosoe was mentioning his Technicbeat Soundtrack on his English language MySpace page, and linked to the VGMdb album page,” says Secret Squirrel. “Other professional composers have linked to VGMdb entries — or even their own profiles and discographies — on their official websites too, which is a nice boost for our site profile and legitimacy.” The layered review system, which includes a moderation queue, enables staff members to evaluate submissions before they are incorporated in the site, has helped to maintain accuracy. Submissions require site registration, a measure that was put into place based on the observation that similar efforts have been targeted by advertising spam.

 

The ease of use has been a major factor in encouraging people to contribute to VGMdb. Readers can paste an entire tracklist straight from their media player, and the system will automatically extract individual tracks. The staff plans on adding future additions to submissions, along the lines of the recently implemented simultaneous upload system for scans. The interface will be enhanced by AJAX technology to make it more streamlined. “[A]ny community like this one is filled with local experts who have a desire to share their knowledge,” notes Secret Squirrel. “[T]his is why Wikipedia and Open Source Software are both as viable and successful as they are.”

 

 

Images courtesy of VGMdb, Inti Creates, Suleputer, and Square Enix.


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  • jeffx

    Big fan of the website, especially for info on obscure Japanese releases. Great feature.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkASMIiU1Yo matty

    It’s a cool, helpful site, but I still have a difficult time locating albums based on actual series like Etrian Odyssey/Sekaiju no Meikyū

  • http://vgmdb.net Gigablah

    That’s one of the features we’ll be working on in December, the ability to browse and cross-reference albums by associated products or series. Glad to know you guys find the site useful, we’re always open to feedback.

  • badfish

    Sounds great. I’m going to check out the website right now!!!

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