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Is 2007 the year games break through?

Brad Gallaway's picture

Is 2007 the big breakthrough year for games entering mass media consciousness?

Games have been blips on the radar on and off for a while, but it seems as though things are gathering substantial steam lately.

For example, I barely watch any TV at all and even I haven't been able to avoid seeing the hypnotic BioShock commercials. At a recent party I attended, people who were obviously not gamers were discussing it over chips and salsa. Not in any detail, but more like asking each other if they had heard or seen it and if so, what did they know?

An even bigger example is the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. The magazine has featured video game reviews sporadically, usually months apart and only very sparse coverage even then. Flipping through his pages this afternoon, there was a two-page story on Halo 3 and how it's expected to log the biggest single-day gross of any product, in any media, ever.

... and if that wasn't proof enough, Brain Age 2 was advertised on two half-page spots in the popular movie reviews section. I don't think I've ever seen a videogame advertised in such a mainstream magazine before. Maybe getting Nicole Kidman to do a commercial for the title was worth its weight in gold?

There are a handful of other examples (Wii at the watercooler, anyone?) but this year more than others before it seems as though games are getting greater attention and going higher-profile then they've done in the past—and people thought to be traditionally non-gamers seem to be listening.

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The way it works

In America, people have an easier time understanding video games as sport than art, so games'll probably get their first big permanent perch in the mainstream in the form of some televized tournament series.

The Wii remote helps by making the player ache and sweat. I think that's a prerequisite for audiences to accept it as a sport. If the player is too sedentary, the audience won't be impressed. It doesn't look cool.

Games as art? That works for Japan, but here...

The other way for video

The other way for video games to go mainstream is simple attrition. A lot of older folks will never care, or only care a little. It takes time for people who really care about video games to climb to positions of power in society.

I suppose that video games

I suppose that video games are starting to reach a broader audience, but I still think the price barrier is too great to really reach the mainstream. $600 for a PS3 and at least $250 for either of the other home consoles is just too much for most people that have a passing interest.

When I look at the biggest games coming this year, most of them are still targeted at the male teenager audience. Halo 3, Bioshock, Assassin's Creed, Metroid Prime 3, etc. There are some Wii and DS games that may appeal to both genders, but I still feel that getting girls older than 12 to play anything that doesn't involve a virtual pet is a real predicament in getting video games noticed.

Nintendo has the best ideas and the best marketing of the three. Efforts like Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Brain Age are starting to have an effect. The news stories about the elderly picking up Wii Sports are encouraging. But I still think video games reaching mainstream status is a ways off. 2007 may be the year to kick things off, but the gaming community still has a lot of room for expansion.

When I speak with an attractive 20-something year old girl that loves to play hardcore games who isn't named Morgan Webb, then I may think the tides have turned. Unfortunately, that day hasn't come yet.

As video games become more

As video games become more and more mainstream they become bigger, more polished productions, and yet the actual quality of gameplay declines. In terms of production values, something like BioShock or Oblivion is phenomenal.. And yet their gameplay is simply inferior to what we had 10, even 15 years ago. It's sad.

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