Not so different after all
On Friday after a shortened class of Videogames: culture and aesthetics, I stuck around Cornerstone 301 with a couple people from my class. From 10:30 to noon I had one of the most productive conversations about videogames of the block thus far. The discussion challenged my former assumptions of medium, especially the culture that surrounds gaming. The more I talked with my peers, the more I realized that film and videogames, and specifically the social worlds of the two the mediums, are much more similar than I realized. Before this class, I considered film a much “higher art” than videogames. But ultimately the mediums parallel each other in too many ways to be unrelated. A couple members of my class were trying to describe the differences between “hardcore gamers” versus “casual gamers” within the videogame subculture. Hardcore gamers play videogames everyday, try for high scores, and incorporate videogames into other aspects of their lives. On the other hand, casual gamers pick up a controller every now and then. The same social structure exists within the film community. There are some audience members (such as myself) for whom film pervades every aspect of life. But for the most part, movie-goers fall under the category of “casual” audiences.
I also learned that the industry behind videogames parallels the movie industry unlike any other professional sector, except maybe music. The film industry has become notoriously difficult to succeed in. Little known to me, the same insane professional culture exists in the videogame industry. You could produce a game that receives massive amounts of critical acclaim one year and the next produce a total flop. Videogames, like films, demand a high level of art while trying to appeal to mass audiences, a very difficult accomplishment. I had formerly considered my obsession with movies, watching and making them, as so different than videogame obsession. But the truth is that film community is just as “hardcore” as the gaming community, and the similarity is worth exploration and celebration.