Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gaming anthropology

As the business of video games and gaming technology continually expands, as if an explosion of big bang proportions happened back in the late eighties in the gaming industry, pushing out an ever expanding universe of games, things have just gotten bigger, bolder and more expensive. It's sometimes easy to forget the gaming industry is in it's relative infancy. The industry as we know it is realistically only about twenty-five years old if you're being generous. Gaming development budgets are into the hundreds of millions and big name franchise launches attract millions of first day sales. Gaming is no longer the domain of the socially awkward, bespectacled nerd. It's mainstream whether the hardcore elite of gaming like it or not. But what happens next?

Fast forwards two-thousand years...

If the human race can keep it together and we aren't headed for some war or pollution induced dark age, or religious or political zealotry doesn't result in games being 'outlawed' and unceremoniously thrown to the bonfire and purged from the internet, and provided the world economy can keep things together so gaming can remain viable, imagine surfing the information mega-freeways of 4010. Imagine scouring an ancient archive of two-thousand years and change of historical gaming. I can imagine social anthropologists of the future studying gaming of the 20th/21st century, trying to gleam some understanding and insight about the people who made and played these games. In two-thousand years what is Super Mario Brothers going to say about gamers of the late eighties and early nineties? Maybe they will see the platforming exploits of the titular plumber, who was so inexplicably popular in his heyday, as some kind of folk hero of the late 20th century. When these anthropologists study the ancient interweb of our time and they find the countless sites dedicated to Blizzard's World of Warcraft, the fan fanaticism and worship, will they interpret this devotion, and in some cases addiction, as an actual religion? I shudder to think what Splatterhouse, Manhunt and Postal 2 will say about us down the line. Not to mention our current obsession with 1st person shooters. Maybe they will see us as a society of violence obsessed caffeine addicts.

Whatever the people of the far future think about us and our games, I am happy at least that so many talented designers and artists are creating a legacy and writing the first chapter of gaming history. We are living in the ancient Greece of video games. Gabe Newel is like our Hercules. Jeff Kaplan our Leonidas. This is the time when myths are made.

No comments:

Post a Comment