The World of Video Games

I’ve been busy with random stuff so here’s an essay that I wrote for English class. It’s on the history of video games.

Beep, buzz, zing, wakka-wakka: these are the sounds that echo through any hardcore gamers head. Video games have been a part of popular culture ever since their creation in the early 1970s. It was only two paddles and a ball that started the craze and the world has never been the same since. That is why video games need a monument that not only talks about the history, but the cultural impact that they have instilled across the world.

It was in 1972 when Atari released their first arcade game known as Pong. Although not the first video game, its basic principles it led the way to the video game industry boom. Pong showed that if a video game was simple, fun, and addictive it could make a company millions of dollars. These are the same principles that I would found my monument on. Gamers are people looking to be entertained and my monument has to feed that craving. At the height of the video game arcade boom, arcade machines started appearing in stores, restaurants, and even churches. When video games first came out, they were able to break through all consumer barriers. It did not matter whether one was old or young, black or white, or male or female, as long as one had a quarter one could play a video game. This is why the monument needs to educate its visitors about video games. Not all the visitors attending the monument understand or even have the hand-eye coordination that is required to play video games. Non-gamers will feel left out if they are not told why video games are such a popular medium.

As video games evolved, some parents began having issues with them. As video games are addictive in nature, their children fled to the arcades when they should have been doing other things such as attending school or using their lunch money to play video games. Not only that, but video games grew in their violence. In 1976 a game called Death Race had players running over gremlins in order to win. The problem arouse when the simplistic graphics made the gremlins appear as stick figures, which were mistaken for humans. Violent video games were only the beginning of things to come. Eventually sexually explicit games started appearing on home consoles. The most disturbing of these was called Custer’s Revenge. In this game players played as a naked cowboy who had to rape an Indian whom was tied to a stake. While my monument would, overall, celebrate video games, dedicating an area that discusses the controversy in video games is needed.

In recent years, video games have been at the center stand when politicians want to blame someone for the corruption of America’s youth. In 1994 Congress forced the video game industry to form a regulatory body, which rated games based on their content. The Video Game Rating Act of 1994 jump-started the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). While this independent organization has made it easier for consumers to understand the content that they are looking into buying, it does not enforce whether or not specific age groups are allowed to purchase a mature game. In 1999 the Colombine tragedy occurred and the world yet again blamed video games as the cause of the school shooting. The Colombine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were avid players of the violent shooter game Doom. Even more recently, in 2005 the Hot Coffee Mod was created for the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. This modification allows players to go through a sex mini-game. But these are the only type of games that make media headlines. Every month multiple games are released that are kid friendly and educational. Most gamers will say that video games are not reality and that know the difference between the real world and the virtual world. They recognize the consequences if they brought over this violent mentality that video games allow them to express.

As with any medium there are plenty of monuments that show off its industry, but video games have always been treated as a child’s play thing. To many extents this stereotype used to be valid. According to the Entertainment Software Association, as of 2005 the average age of a gamer is 33 years old. It has only been since these past couple of years that seniors have begun playing casual video games across the internet such as poker.

While the video game industry has surpassed $10 billion in revenues, according to NPD Group in 2003, few people can name one worker on a video game project. It is interesting that people can name the directors of movies yet they cannot name the creative directors behind popular video games. There is no reason to say that someone who makes a video game is lower class than if they made something on another medium. I want to give video games and the people who make them respect they deserve. No job in the video game industry is 9am-5pm. At times people may work over 15 hours per days. Writing thousands of lines of code or drawing hundreds of concept artwork sketches is a tough job. According to GameDaily.com, a video game industry insider website, a major video game developer Electronic Arts did not pay for overtime work from 2001 to 2006. Electronic Arts was sued by its programmers and forced to pay $14.9 million.  This goes to prove that video game professionals have had their own hardships to work out just like any other industry. In my monument I want to honor developers for their dedication to making their games fun for people that enjoy them.

While my monument would be held in a building, I would try to make it an interactive experience. I would put the information about a game next to a playable copy. Next I would include tons of mini theaters that showed off game play videos, trailers, game commercials, etc. Throughout the entire monument there would be a collage of game characters and their creators. It would start from the very first video game and go into current time. As the video game phenomenon is not only in the United States, I would have an area for video games that were developed around the world. It is important that gaming community feels connected to the monument itself. Unlike other monuments I want the environment to be casual and laid back. The monument would be made for gamers. The idea would be to get them to revisit the site again and again. In order to get a steady visitor count I would hold monthly tournaments with cash prizes for the winners. Also I would invite actual game developers to come and talk with gamers about their games and how they got into the industry. It is important to inspire the next generation of game developers and a monument with these features truly could. The monument must have the support of the people inside the video game industry, as they are the ones who drive the video game community. They are the ones who will make this monument something special to gamers all around the world.

I visited the Metreon, a mall owned by Sony that honors video games, in March 2006. It was actually a depressing experience. It was great that they had some stars on the floor with the name of the honored game or developer, but it was the rest of the site that failed to live up to my gamer dreams. The fact that the site itself is in a mall, where most of the stores are shut down is absolutely pathetic. They had an arcade room, but half of the machines were broken and all of the games themselves were outdated. Why would I as a gamer want to go to a place that doesn’t respect video games? A mall is about commerce, video games are fun and exciting. Honoring video games in a run-down mall just does not work.

On October 15, 2006, I attended the Los Angeles National Cemetery. The layout of this monument does not work as well because it is an outdoor environment. My monument needs to be enclosed in a building so that there is no glare on all of the television screens. Also the whole mood of any cemetery is sadness. Video games are the complete opposite in that they can bring out joy and that is the mood that my monument needs.

With the deep history that video games have had in our culture I’m shocked to see that no one has properly honored them. That is why I would want to make a monument dedicated to them and the people who make them. Uniting gamers with the games they love could have a lot of potential. With an industry worth over $10 billion it is definitely the industry that has always been misunderstood and underrepresented. My monument would change that.

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

Brightman, James “EA Settles Overtime Suit, Pays $14.9 Million.” 26 Apr. 2006. 31 Oct.

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“Columbine High School Massacre.” 2006. 21 Oct. 2006

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“Death Race.” 2006. 22 Oct. 2006. .

Lieberman, Joe. Video Game Rating Act of 1994. US 103rd Cong., 2nd sess. S. Rept. 

     1823. 1994. Washington: GOP, 1994.

Los Angeles National Cemetery. Los Angeles. 15 Oct. 2006.

Metreon. San Francisco. 6 Mar. 2006.

“The NPD Group Reports Annual 2004 U.S. Video Game Industry Retail Sales.” 

     NPD Group.18 Jan. 2005. 31 Oct. 2006.

2076>.

“Top 10 Industry Facts.” Entertainment Software Association. 2006. 31 Oct 2006.

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Author: DaveWeLike

I'm the editor of StuffWeLike.com.

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