This original article was first published here: Why Gaming Became Cool
There was a time, decades ago, where gaming was often confined to only small and diehard enthusiasts. In the modern age, gaming is worth more than even the film box office, enjoyed by millions of people from all walks of life. More than that, it’s cool, considered one of many parts of life that people can use to express themselves. So what changed?
Pushing for Accessibility
When gaming was a small industry all those years ago, it was prohibitive both in terms of cost and knowledge. Back then, spending major money on a computer system wasn’t seen as the necessity it is today, creating a class of the haves and the have-nots. Combined with the difficulty in using the first operating systems, and early gaming didn’t have much of a chance.
For the young of that time, however, the idea of gaming was always an exciting one. As is often the case with tech, the prices slowly began to fall, and computing systems as a whole went from curiosity to an integral part of modern life. As this happened, the kids who grew up wanting these devices themselves entered the work-force, and the gap from want to have started to close.
The Cool Factor
With accessibility and desire growing, the next step was raising the profile of how the greater world looked at gaming. Directly, one of the biggest contributions came from the release of Microsoft’s first Xbox console in late 2001. This released right around the time that high-speed internet was becoming standard, offering opportunities far broader than anything possible on old dial-up systems. Combined with Xbox Live infrastructure, this made online multiplayer gaming accessible to the masses.
The killer app came from Bungie’s Halo series. This first-person-shooter franchise was critically and commercially acclaimed. Hitting the right place at the right time, Halo now stands as one of the most influential sets of games of all time.
Mainstream Transference from Casinos
Less direct, but still important, were contributing factors from other forms of interactive entertainment. Most notedly, this came from online casino favourites like table games. Games like poker and blackjack have long been popular, and their push into the digital marketplace helped solidify the idea of online gaming for the masses.
These also drew parallels back to video games through the adoption of gaming franchises. Slots based on Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, and Hitman have proven popular examples in this regard, staying at the front line for years. Adaption would also prove bi-directional, with some video games such as GTA and Red Dead Redemption involving translations of casinos for eager gamers.
The final step in the raising of gaming’s profile took place over the next few years of pop culture adoption. With the stage set, all that was needed was the end-game of total mass-visibility. The best illustrations of this are seen in both celebrity endorsements and movies based on the concept of gaming.
Ready Player One, based on the novel of the same name was a smash hit for its representation of gaming culture, bringing in $583 million. Directly correlating to the saturation of gaming in the public consciousness, this level of success was never before possible. On a more individual level, we have examples like Superman Henry Cavill, noted PC gamer, building a new computer on video to showcase his enthusiasm.
Today, gaming as a hobby or passion is a pursuit detached from its former stigma. From a gated community, gaming eventually became accessible. From small player-bases, the internet caused a dramatic upshift in engagement. From failures like the Super Mario Bros movie came international smash hits. It’s taken a long time, and come a long way, but gaming is now firmly in the land of the cool. For many us, it’s about time.
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