Do you know what Shaquille O’Neal and Jennifer Lopez have in common?
They are both listed as investors and advisors for the e-sports team NRG.
In 2017, according to a study by SuperData, video games and interactive media generated over 100 billion dollars globally, 46 per cent of video game audiences in the US were female, and approximately 665 million people consumed gaming-related video content.
So why are video games still viewed by some as a fringe culture?
Films and television have been around for a very long time, and as such, people have grown comfortable watching a wide variety of visual media. This has led to the reverence of celebrities, directors, and institutions like the Oscars and Golden Globes. With the mysticism that surrounds show business, it’s only natural that people respect the craft and critique of film and television, even if they aren’t fans of everything out there.
On the other side of media consumption, games are seen as a childish hobby or pastime.
This may be because video games are a relatively new type of media. They’ve really only begun to have a legitimate place in the market since the ‘80s, so the video game industry has had only about 40 years — definitely not as long as film or TV — to flourish and attract wider audiences.
Despite this, video games aren’t a hidden thing in media. They definitely take a beating in their representation, though.
On Conan O’Brien’s late show segment, “Clueless Gamer,” he calls his co-host, Aaron Bleyaert, “the biggest nerd on staff” on account of Bleyaert knowing how video games work. On CSI: New York, players of the game Second Life are portrayed as shut-ins with “too much time on (their) hands.” In Breaking Bad, Jesse Pinkman has an emotional scene where he is playing the game Rage with the wrong controller — one that’s shaped like a gun.
What these examples show is that there is still a belief that video games aren’t respectable pieces of content. And maybe video games don’t deserve absolute reverence. But the negativity and ignorance surrounding them is a bit of a slap in the face to those who not only enjoy video games, but create them, too.
Not only do some video games take massive teams to publish and create, but many games have an incredible amount of nuance to them that people don’t necessarily pay attention to. Some games are made just for fun, but there are creators out there who want to make interactive media do things no other media can.
Controlling horror can be scarier, action can be more exciting, and emotional scenes can be even sadder when someone invests hours in the progression of a story.
Perhaps the biggest reason games are misunderstood is the main barrier to entry — that is, learning new mechanics and gaining a dexterity for controllers — rather than the idleness they share with film or TV viewing.
Either way, with games becoming more and more influential, it would be good for people to view them not just as time-killers, but as a form of media similar to what we’re so comfortable with now — just a little more hands-on.