When I say the word gamer, many of you probably get an image in your head of a fat, lazy man sitting in front of his computer all day. I’m not saying that this image is completely inaccurate, but what if I were to tell you that the term “gamer” is used to describe thousands of members of a unified community?
I have been playing video games almost longer than I can remember walking, and have had lots of experience with other members of the gaming community, so today I can tell you that the video games industry is one of the largest and fastest growing art forms of the 21st century, has brought together millions of people who would otherwise have never bothered to interact with each other, and as an art form can do things that no other art form can.
First I want to tell you about the sheer size of the video games industry and community. A lot of you are probably thinking that making a video game is a quick and simple process that doesn’t take much effort. On the contrary, the amount of money it takes to develop a video game costs more than most big-budget films, and has had a serious rise over the past few years. While the average cost of games is about 20 to 40 million dollars, some of the bigger titles can rise into the hundreds of millions dollars to make. According to a report by the L.A. Times, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare cost about 250 million dollars to make. That’s three times more than some of the biggest budget films in Hollywood. It takes almost three times as long to make a big budget game as well, with title development spanning from seven to twelve years in some cases, also much longer than it takes to make a big budget Hollywood film.
Now that you know about how big the gaming community has become, I would like to talk about the people who play those games. Many of you, again, are probably assuming that video gamers are an isolated bunch who are socially awkward and cant get a date to save their lives. However, Henry Jenkins, an MIT professor of communications, wrote an article for PBS addressing some of the myths about video games, and says that “almost 60 percent of frequent gamers play with friends”. The industry has brought together millions of people who love to play video games, myself included, and has opened up a new way to communicate. Just two weeks ago I started talking to a guy who was wearing a shirt that referenced a game that I enjoyed, and we ended up talking about video games and other topics for almost two hours. People who share a video game experience are connected in ways that are hard to express, I imagine. Another thing that helps to bring people together is the creation of online play in games. I remember hearing my brother laugh, talk to, and get mad at people from all over the world while playing a game with them. He still remembers playing with two Australians that made him laugh with all of their in-game antics. You only need to go to a video game convention like E3, Comic-Con or PAX to see how many people come together to learn about what games are coming out, and what the developers are thinking. 45,600 people attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) last year.
Besides being a way to bring together a community, video games are also becoming a more refined art form. Developers are trying new ways…