If you haven’t read it, the first post in this blog was almost an introduction into the effects of video games on society in the way games have evolved throughout the years. This post, however, will look at more obvious ways video games change the world. This week, we’ll be looking at their effects on merchandise, youth culture, and social media.
So, let’s start with merchandise.
Merchandise is defined as goods that are bought or sold, generally these goods are branded products that are used to promote something and to increase profit; whether that be a film, tv series, and even video games. Merchandise can come in the form of toys and action figures, posters, clothing, and so much more. Almost anything can be turned into merchandise to promote something.
The most recent surge in video game merchandise is that of the 2017 Battle Royale phenomenon: Fortnite. This game saw huge initial success, a success that just won’t end, and with its mass popularity, we see a rise in the amount of merchandise being produced. Just this month an official store was launched named ‘Retail Row’ after one of the many iconic locations that feature in the game. Promoted on this online store are a variety of official Fortnite T-shirts with either the name written across or featuring an iconic skin (character) from the game.
In addition to T-shirts, the store is promoting a onesie which is an exact replica of a skin in the game, allowing die hard fans to dress up as the skin. But the merch is not by any means confined to the official store. Across the world many well known brands are hopping on the Fortnite band wagon. Primark, for example, have recently launched a Fortnite range in all their stores. Of course, Fortnite isn’t the only gaming merchandise available, almost every ‘successful’ video game has some sort of merchandise whether it be clothing, mugs, action figures and figurines, books, posters and canvases, and so much more. Merchandising is, and has been for many many years, a direct result of pop culture that producers of these video games will use to promote and profit from.
Now on to youth culture.
So firstly, what is youth culture? It’s basically just the way young people live. Traditionally, youth culture is considered a phase everyone goes through, a stage of personal discovery as they enter adult life. Nowadays, however, youth culture has become digital culture; the idea that young people today are entirely connected to technology and the internet. While video games did not directly cause this, they definitely contributed due to the fact that pretty much every kid has some kind of games console.
But it goes without saying that video games are a huge part of youth culture and the lives of young people nowadays, many of us have younger siblings, or at least know someone who does, who is a video games fanatic. It’s not necessarily a new thing, but it is without a doubt growing, and the age at which kids are introduced to games is shrinking. Kids as young as six years old are now becoming pros at video games! At that age I was still struggling to ride a bike, let alone master a complex game like Fortnite!
Finally, let’s look at social media.
Not as big an outcome compared to merchandise or youth culture but still noteworthy. Just scroll through Facebook, twitter or Instagram and you will be surprised by the amount of video game content you’ll find. Snapchat, for example, features several public stories that contain content primarily dedicated to video games. Meanwhile Instagram and Facebook are both homes to a huge amount of Fortnite and other video game fan and meme pages where vast amounts of content are posted daily. Why is this significant? Well with social media being as popular as it is, it must imply that video games are also a very important part of modern society if it shares a platform with social media, something used by anyone who is remotely tech savvy.
So, this has been the first look into the way video games and gaming has affected modern society, but it is just the beginning. While I briefly discussed the effect of social media this week, it will be covered in greater depth in next week’s post with another insight into the effect of video games on modern society.