Video games have been a multi-trillion-dollar industry for years now. But over the course of the pandemic, gaming has become more than a pastime — it’s become a vital connection and community for millions of people. Video games are also increasingly influencing music and film in a way that could significantly shape the next generation of media.
The size and scope of the gaming world has also brought a whole host of issues. Labor, economic, cultural and political challenges have rocked the gaming industry in recent years.
In light of these developments, CultureShift is introducing a new weekly segment to cover the many facets of the gaming industry featuring longtime gaming journalist, Nate Bender. Bender hosts a daily gaming news podcast called “Let’s Play,” and is the creator of Check Point Radio, the first syndicated radio show for E-Sports. He’s also an audio engineer at WDET.
“I think when people hear video games, they tend to think guns and violence and conflict. But games can be so much more than that.” —Nate Bender
Bender says the gaming industry is larger than we realize, and that it’s a major employer in places like Austin, Texas, and Seattle, Washington.
“This is major, major business, and it affects a lot of peoples’ lives. A lot of creative individuals pour their life into making these games that we all love so much, and it ends up impacting a lot of different people, their livelihoods and just culture in general.”
One of the ways gaming is impacting culture is through film. We’ve seen an increase in movie adaptations of video games in recent years (“Detective Pikachu,” “Sonic the Hedgehog,” the upcoming Super Mario movie), following a similar trajectory to movie adaptations of comic books (think: the Marvel Cinematic Universe).
“Just like comic books were the fodder for an entire generation of entertainment, video games, I see, are positioned to be the next comic book-like sector that’s going to explode in terms of entertainment.”
Even the music from video games has broken into mass consciousness. The Grammys now has a category for Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media, which recognizes excellence in music made specifically for video games.
While the average person may underestimate – or wrongfully judge – the world of video games, Bender aims to change their perception with this segment.
“I think when people hear video games, they tend to think a couple of things: They tend to think guns and violence and conflict. But games can be so much more than that.”
He cites a couple of upcoming games that defy those aggressive stereotypes: one where you’re a cat on a mission, and one where you’re exploring and capturing people’s stories. The former is called Stray, and it comes out July 19, and the later is called Season: A Letter to the Future, scheduled to release this fall.
Listen: WDET’s Nate Bender talks cultural impact of video games.