I live in Philadelphia, and about a week ago I first saw an ad on the side of a SEPTA bus (SEPTA is our mass transit system) that brought home something to me that I saw predicted in entertainment media a few years ago.
You must login to vote
The ad was for the new Grand Theft Auto: Vice City videogame, which will be available on the Playstation 2 (although not on my beloved Xbox system!), and likely the PC.
Nevermind that the game is one of those 'mature-rated', violence-filled games we shouldn't let little kids play (which is true, but today's consoles allow parents to control easily what the kids put in the machine, both games and movies, by rating). I'm more focused on the fact that this company, Rockstar, is going to sell millions of copies of this game not only because it already has a huge draw but because they are able to enter into the publicity mainstream with this product. This game is now on the sides of busses, dammit!
Does this upset me? No, seeing that I'm a videogame addict and have been since Space Invaders first came out. (Yes, I'm that old.) The point I mean to make to my readers is that I just find this phenomenon to be a sign of the times which is affecting me personally, on a powerful level; I've been into this hobby since it began, and now all of a sudden it's finally mainstream.
I'm also reading that these games are becoming an issue in other countries, even in third-world countries in South America. It's beginning to look to me as if a great plurality of the nation may be playing them.
I shouldn't be that suprised. After all, who is it that has been jumping onboard with the massively-multiplayer roleplaying games? Don't millions of people own consoles? And who, after all, have I been blowing up and shooting since I became one of the first people to play the original Quake over the internet?
I think that I shall finally be so jaded and impossible to suprise when I begin hearing death and black metal over Muzak at the department stores. They've already been raiding the Metallica (sorry, I mean Alternica) vaults for escalator hits.
In closing, I point at http://www.gamespot.com as the best source of articles that put the social reach of the videogaming hobby in best focus. That is, on the internet; Wired magazine does this best in the print world, and they do have an online presence: http://www.wired.com . Wired focuses on the effects of technology and the internet on society and how these effect social change. A recent article described the explosive impact of the sports console games on youth and how they therefore dominate the gaming industry, especially since the advent of internet gaming.