It all started with Pong, that 2D pixel version of table tennis that bid two players against each other in the ultimate battle of skill and strategy. But video games have come a long way since Pong was introduced in the 70s. They’ve come so far, in fact, that they are arguably a fundamental part of modern society.
When I was a young child around ten years old, my Christmas list consisted of Star Wars toys, remote control cars or Lego sets all of which would provide endless amounts of fun. But kids nowadays have something else on their mind. With Sony managing to sell a whopping 70.6 million PlayStation consoles in December 2017, it is evident that a video games console is at the top of many kids’ lists this Christmas. And with the recent closing down of the iconic store Toys R Us, it seems that video games are in, and toys R out.
But video games go beyond the standard games console. In fact, it’s almost impossible to escape them. Where there’s technology, there are video games. A modern smart mobile phone such as an iPhone has access to over 800,000 games in the app store. Some free to play, some at a price, and many with in-game purchases where players are encouraged to spend more money after downloading the standard game. Even games designed for consoles have been adapted from mobile use. Games like Minecraft, Fortnite, and Call of Duty are now available for access on mobile platforms, allowing us to play some of our favorite games no matter when or where.
Developing on this, some of the most popular apps downloaded onto smart phones are social media apps, such as Facebook. As well as being able to post holiday pics, tag your mates in memes and keep up to date with the lives of celebrities, Facebook has recently brought in the opportunity to challenge friends to a huge variety of games. Some games are simply digitalized versions of well-known games that have been around for years like Chess, Battleships and Scrabble; and some are more original and contemporary.
So, the question remains: why are video games so popular in our society? Are they simply a vice to keep us entertained for a few hours; or do they serve a more complicated purpose?
In my opinion it is the latter. The purpose of most games today is to provide a form of true escapism, to capture and entice their players to want more. Some games like Super Smash Bros are just fun and colorful platform games. But others like The Last of Us, The Witcher, and even Grand Theft Auto are all games with very intricate narratives and plot lines that rival that of film and TV. This, I believe, is what has had such a huge impact in the way games have become so vastly popular in recent years. The sheer number of compelling story lines full of interesting characters, and that tackle real life moral issues. All these components added with photo realistic graphics makes it easy to understand why gamers often invest multiple hours into these games.
However, this does not by any means account for all of the most popular games being played today, not by a long shot. Many argue that the Fifa games, some of the most highly bought games every year, simply recycle the same formula for each game and never fail to get the sales, as shown by the example of the most recent Fifa 19 managing over 4.3 million sales in its first weekend, and that’s even with a downfall of sales from the previous year.
So you’re probably reading through this and wondering why is any of this even important? Well in the coming few weeks, you’ll find out. This post is just an introduction to how video games and gaming has evolved and become as popular as it is, but the upcoming posts will explore much more on how they effect modern society. I’ll be looking at the real effects gaming has on the likes of: celebrity culture, addiction, merchandise, and even crime.