How Ohio State’s marching band paid tribute to the history of games

Ohio State’s halftime show at the game against Nebraska was truly a spectacle to behold: a full ten minutes of their marching band performing video game tributes. I went to Michigan, so understand that praise of OSU is sacrilege, enough to get me burned at the stake in Ann Arbor. 

Combine an idea five years in the making, an elite band of 225 members, 14 hours of onfield practice time and a theme featuring Mario Bros., Pac-Man and Zelda that appeals to both football fans and video gamers, and you wind up with more than 4 million views on YouTube.

“It was a historical journey through video game music,” Waters said. “Some of the early music is a little trite, kind of tinny, so we tried to capture that in the musical arrangements. Some of the more modern stuff is very symphonic in nature and translated very well to our band. So we took all that into account and merged the music with the visual presentation we wanted to make.

“You’ve got a stadium full of college students who have grown up on video games,” Waters said. “And even for the people who are there as typical football fans, they have played these video games, so people who wouldn’t ordinarily pay attention to the band suddenly hear something they recognize on the field and they look and say, ‘Hey, I recognize that formation.’

The performance was positively delightful, and by the time they took the Michigan flag down from the Bowser inspired castle, and raised an Ohio State flag in its stead, I found myself cheering along with those I used to call my enemies.