Why Games Will Never Be Truly Mainstream

Ken Cauley should go and hit a tramp. Peter Molyneux should hire a couple of hookers and become a reported missing person for two weeks. Tim Schafer should shave his head. David Cage should be found dead in his home wearing nothing but a jockstrap and a rope. Joel Windels should make his point before his examples get even more extreme.

Celebrities. The Glitterati. Showbusiness. Hollywood, music and other mediums all owe so much to the likes of the medically bonkers Tom Cruise or the bat-shit insane Britney Spears. It is these hyper-rich, super spoiled, egotistical, dick-swaggering idiots that fuel the fire surrounding popular entertainment, the people that fill column inches and generate hype about upcoming releases. The Dark Knight would likely never have been so popular had the tragic death of Heath Ledger not occurred beforehand, yet whoever heard of a videogame developer or designer dying during the production of game, then propelling the sales of that game? Throwaway magazines here in the UK like Heat and OK often devote entire issues to moody-faced chancers like Robert Pattinson (or "R-Pattz" for those who are overweight and whose chances of getting married have long surpassed). It doesn't matter that Twilight and New Moon got terrible "proper film critic" reviews; it simply matters that there are two hunks in the film and that Kristen Stewart and Pattinson shared an off-screen relationship. And Heat liked it.

Even if the mantra of "any publicity is good publicity" is as hollow as the celebrities seeking it, there is something to be said for the media interest in the private lives of those in the music and film industries. Games however, do not benefit from this. The convoluted examples listed at the start of this blog were cheap attention grabbers, sure, but if you're reading this far then it must have worked. The fact that most gaming celebrities (erm...) do nothing of interest outside of their work, or at least have no one bothering to stick around and report on it when they do, makes gaming a pursuit of only those dedicated to the art form. Film, music and especially books all have those who genuinely appreciate the content, and consider extraneous issues none of their concern. Depressingly though, the majority of record sales and box office receipts comes from those who do not take an active interest in the medium and generic media outlets provide much of the commentary on entertainment for them.

Newspapers and non-gaming magazines, although starting to cover videogames, will never devote as much attention to gaming as film or music because of its seemingly dull employees. It is also interesting to note that much of the mainstream coverage of videogames isn't about the games themselves; rather it's about the kid who shot a goat because he played Animal Crossing for ten minutes or the government who went to war with Argentina because of Pac-man. It is interesting then, to see that the two newspapers (in the UK) that cover gaming the most are also the two that are considered the most high-brow, the most concerned with culture over tabloid gossip. Maybe gaming will never become as popular in terms of coverage as film or music, but rather go the way of the novel, where although authors like Dan Brown inexplicably continue to be popular, most of the coverage on books is about the content, and importantly the correlation between critical quality and popularity is fairly close (as it is for gaming, unlike films or music). Well, at least until Cliffy B has a sex change and gets married to Will Smith or something.

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