So gaming hasn't gone mainstream? I thought we were there!

So Mr. Chick has pointed out that gaming hasn’t gone mainstream: http://firingsquad.gamers.com/features/the_firing_line_3/page4.asp

What is he talking about! I thought gaming is mainstream. Hell I see people playing games all the time and how many people game on their PC or console. And doesn’t the gaming industry make more then the movie industry?

Hey Tom, when you mentioned that gaming isn’t mainstream are you talking about console or PC gaming?

But this mainstreaming isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Computer gaming is a weird little hobby that most people have heard of and a few have sampled by picking up breakout hits like The Sims, RollerCoaster Tycoon, and Grand Theft Auto, all of which can be enjoyed as brief diversions that aren’t very demanding. Of the 3 million people who bought Vice City, I’ll bet you less than half got past the first mission where you had to aim a sniper rifle and less than half of them got past the remote control helicopter mission.

Most people don’t really want to play these things we call games, and certainly not the way we play them. If anything, they might pick up Postal 2 because they read about how terrible it was. But they’re liable to think Rise of Nations is that old silent D.W. Griffith movie, Tony Hawk is a skateboarder and not a game, and Metal Gear Solid is a, well…okay, they probably wouldn’t have any idea what to make of that name. Neither do I.

We’re a niche hobby, complete with our own bad boys pushing the envelope just like when they started showing naked butts on NYPD Blue. But guess how many pages were devoted to gaming in Entertainment Weekly’s annual It List issue this week? Zero. Our problem is that we have a very narrow vision. Most of the people who make and play games have little insight beyond the production design from Blade Runner, the cultural references from The Simpsons, the narrative depth of the average second-rate Marvel Comics property, and the breasts of some impossibly proportioned polygonal model. Until this changes, like it’s starting to do very very slowly, we’re going to be an industry that just makes toys for boys like you and me.

I’m confused… :?

We’re a niche hobby

Welcome to twenty years ago.

He’s referring to PC gaming

Good question. It wasn’t clear to me either whether Tom was talking about PC gaming or the entire industry. If it’s just computer gaming, I think he’s right; it doesn’t enjoy the mainstream success that console games do.

But the industry as a whole is certainly moving into the mainstream with plenty of cross-over of talent between film and videogames (we just hired an animator who took a job with us over ILM), more recognition from non-games press like EW and Newsweek, television shows and an entire cable channel devoted to it, jokes about games on sitcoms, midnight opening of games stores for big releases, mushrooming academic programs for training devs, videogame consoles at clubs, and on and on.

I agree with Tom’s general point that games are in a sort of creative rut because they are made by and for people with a rather limited cultural view, but then again, so is most popular music and film.

If gaming is mainstreamed then why don’t we see any games that tackle more social issues such as Aids, teenage pregnancy and cancer patients?

Not that I would want to play a game where people are dying from Aids.

:D

Stay tuned for all that and more in the latest Sims expansion pack: Life Sucks.

You know, for a hobby that has more than a few multi-million sellers, we’re a pretty damn big niche.

Edit: speeling.

"Hey Tom, when you mentioned that gaming isn’t mainstream are you talking about console or PC gaming? "

I assume its just PC gaming. Read the first couple of sentences in the part you quoted. I would agree with it overall. PC gaming is still mostly a niche area. If he’s talking about Consoles too then no he’s wrong IMO. The are/have crossed over into mainstream at least with kids, teens, and the 20 somthing crowd.

As we all know, Tom is very picky about the difference between computer and video games. Since he didn’t specify one or the other, and instead just said “gaming”, I assume he means all games:

Whatever Postal 2 is, it’s ultimately irrelevant to games going mainstream, which is a recurring wish by guys who want to be taken more seriously, whether they’re making games, playing games, or writing about games

I have to say that I disagree with this on almost every level…

But guess how many pages were devoted to gaming in Entertainment Weekly’s annual It List issue this week? Zero.

But EW does have regular gaming reviews. Something that it didn’t have a decade ago. Just because the creators and business people behind games aren’t yet part of the marketing machine counts for almost nothing.

Computer gaming is a weird little hobby that most people have heard of and a few have sampled by picking up breakout hits like The Sims, RollerCoaster Tycoon, and Grand Theft Auto, all of which can be enjoyed as brief diversions that aren’t very demanding.

They’re called mainstream games. The kind of titles that get mentioned in Entertainment Weekly. The same magazine that’s asking movie stars what game’s they’re playing…

I think that a phrase like “a few have sampled” is disingenuous, and is right only in the sense that it furthers his argument. Far more people play games then read books, or ski, or skateboard, or any of a hundred other activities that are rightly considered “mainstream”.

Tom accuses the gaming industry of not producing mainstream titles, then manages to exlude the games that actually are.

Our problem is that we have a very narrow vision. Most of the people who make and play games have little insight beyond the production design from Blade Runner, the cultural references from The Simpsons, the narrative depth of the average second-rate Marvel Comics property, and the breasts of some impossibly proportioned polygonal model.

It’s easy to line up all the cliches and cheap shots at them. What Tom mentions here are exactly the kind of titles that are having a harder and harder time finding an audience in a world that demands bigger and bigger hits.

Look at EA’s line up and tell me that they’re focusing on these games. Take a look at the top 10 titles and tell me this that most of those games aren’t mainstream…

Your Power Pill

I would like to firmly agree with Andrew, but fear actually saying I visited FS and agree, would cause me to unleash the effeminate wrath of Gamespot’s resident fucking idiot, Bob Colayco.

Chet

Oh, and while this does make me roughly one billion times gayer, there is one person on the IT list whole is involved in gaming, some guy involved in the Lara Croft deal. And Midnight Club II is on some list in there.

You really think so? I don’t know about that. What with books available for free pretty much everywhere in the world, and not requiring a minimum $150 and a television/monitor to be able to use them. Still, I don’t really know. I guess my subjective observations disagree with yours.

Evidence, please.

Perhaps you grew up in a weird world in which books were carefully written out by scribes and hoarded in vaults, only to be handled by a special few?

:roll:

Evidence, please.

Perhaps you grew up in a weird world in which books were carefully written out by scribes and hoarded in vaults, only to be handled by a special few?

:roll:[/quote]

Well, I was thinking of retail, but I’ll admit when I’m wrong

Strong DVD growth also placed home video revenues at nearly three times video game sales ($6.4 billion) and more than music CDs ($11.2 billion) and books ($16.5 billion). The aggregate sales of $16.8 billion for total video sales include $10.9 billion in new release revenues and $5.9 billion in library release revenue.

Not too shabby, and certainly mainstream…

Jeez guys, now you’re giving Brett easy amunition for his counter-counter-point next week. =P That’s assuming he feels the need to re-tread that ground.

Entertainment Weekly also did a ten-page spread on the “Top 100 Games”.

However, while gaming has become something you’ll find the mainstream participating in, I’m not exactly sure they actually fully admit to it being “mainstream”.

It’s like ‘comic books’. Huge numbers of the mainstream public have read them and even like them. Super heroes are popular enough that movies like Batman or Spider-Man can make amounts of money that are impossible without the support of the mainstream. And yet the mainstream on most “public” levels still consider comic books as things for children.

At any rate, I think gaming is closer to being “mainstream” than Anime, even though both have huge numbers of the mainstream following them.

Evidence, please.

Perhaps you grew up in a weird world in which books were carefully written out by scribes and hoarded in vaults, only to be handled by a special few?

:roll:[/quote]

Well, I was thinking of retail, but I’ll admit when I’m wrong

Strong DVD growth also placed home video revenues at nearly three times video game sales ($6.4 billion) and more than music CDs ($11.2 billion) and books ($16.5 billion). The aggregate sales of $16.8 billion for total video sales include $10.9 billion in new release revenues and $5.9 billion in library release revenue.

Not too shabby, and certainly mainstream…[/quote]

I actually wasn’t suggesting that games aren’t mainstream. If they’re not, they’re certainly getting there. I’d classify them more as “pop culture” at this point, which isn’t quite the same thing.

But you specifically wrote:

I suspect what you meant to say was that sales of games probably outstripped sales of books. Even if that were true, that’s probably in dollars, not in quanities, as there are vast numbers of $6 paperbacks sold. But I think I can safely say that more people read books than play video or PC games.

When was the last time EW ran a spread on an author? Do they cover books more than games?

Chet

There have been numerous EW spreads on both J K Rowling and Stephen King, and their books section is generally about three to five pages, versus the average zero to one given to games per issue.

Of course, reading the letters section of EW will bring attention to the usual assortment of letters from the traditionalist readers about how “games aren’t important” any time they’ve given them more than a few pages of attention.