Gaming the Decade

Friday, December 04, 2009

Our look back at the 2000s continues with a review of how video games exploded onto the marketplace, and how they reflect our collective interests, fears, and values. Mike Snidercovers gaming and technology and writes the Game Hunters blog for USA Today.

Nominate your biggest gaming story of the 2000s! Are you a gamer? What game has been the most influential? What do video games reflect about our culture? Comment below!


Mike Snider

Comments [17]

JLS from Uptown

Just to really beat this to death, but misinformation about videogame content and media effects has gotten especially worrisome for me after I read this piece by PW Singer, where even he, who is normally exceptionally well-researched, makes plenty of misleading and just plain wrong statements about some videogames.

Dec. 07 2009 03:44 PM
JLS from Uptown

Ha! Well. I just got to listen to this segment today, and I am extremely glad to find that you didn't do the kind of general discussion that I dismissed above but actually got into what games, individually, reflect about our culture. I usually expect this program to get into the details but the wording on this page made it look like this segment would fall into the same trap a lot of the non-enthusiast press gets into when it wants to figure out where "videogames" fit into society, and generalize. Nice job!

Dec. 07 2009 03:28 PM
Paul from brooklyn

Think about the way an audience interacts with a television show.

Then think about the way an audience interacts with a video game.

There's something positive happening there, if you're into that whole "agency" thing.

Dec. 04 2009 02:06 PM
David from Ossining NY

Des, have you ever asked him to where head phones at night? I had this issue and someone buoght me a very good quality headphone. you may want to try braking the ice about it in a nice way. as for the biggest impact, I say XBOX Live. Online games where around before but Xbox really hit a home run and connected people like never before.

Dec. 04 2009 12:38 PM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

And one doesn't have to buy games. There are online rental outfits, e.g. Gamefly. I certainly could never have afforded to buy 300 games! If one averages it out, the average rental for a video game is $6 - $8 per week, and the average game length is about 10 hours, and some as long as 40 hours. So, really a rental costs you less than $1 per entertainment hour versus paying $10 to see a 2 hour movie in a cinema, or even less than a movie rental.

But making a successful video game today is probably as complex as making a movie, if not more so. You need script writers, actors, artists, programmers, and the like. It now takes some $10 million to make a half way decent video game today. And just as with movies, it's a crap shoot. Nonetheless, video game industry is fast approaching the movie industry in total annual revenues. And they could do much better if they knew how to market them to older folks who have lots of time on their hands. Like me.

Dec. 04 2009 12:19 PM
Jane from NJ

I'm with the caller who mentioned MYST. I hoped for more games like it, but visual effects seem to have trumped mental challenge. If I'm wrong about this, please recommend a good game in this vein!

Dec. 04 2009 12:04 PM
Jenn from Upper East Side

I played counter strike in college as a freshman (1999-2000). It's not a response to 9/11

Dec. 04 2009 11:59 AM
jeffy from brooklyn

Board Games are huge especially with people in 20s and 30s: Apples to Apples, Cranium, etc

Dec. 04 2009 11:58 AM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

I'm a 63 year old gamer whose played about one video game a week for the last 8 years since I retired. I've played some 300 video games in the last 8 years, and a good video game is much better than a movie, because you are Inside "the move." You are part of the action, not just watching it on the screen. Video games are the "movies" of the 21st century. The boomers have not caught on, and have been left behind in this area. They are clueless about a medium they are reluctant to get into, as they were when PCs first came out.
For example, I have been playing the James Bond video game Quantum of Solace, and it is so much better than the movie itself, which was pretty good.

But there is a learning curve with this interactive medium, and some games are too hard and frutrating for old folks. So the industry has to adapt itself if it wants to attract the seniors market, as it is a potentially very lucrative one. They should not only go for 16 years olds, but adapt and market to 60 year olds as well. If not they will miss out!

Dec. 04 2009 11:57 AM

More than 70 million people play Farmville each month. Social gaming is here.

Dec. 04 2009 11:56 AM
Tommy from Astoria

The most interesting trend of games through this decade is the rise of social games, like World of Warcraft, Second Life, or the games on Facebook.

Dec. 04 2009 11:56 AM
NeitherHereNotThere from Manhattan

Tertis on my iphone! One of the lucky few to get the app. before it was pulled.

Dec. 04 2009 11:55 AM
Jessica from South Slope

The popularity of video games speaks to our need to escape from our stressful world and our detachment from having real experiences. It scares me for the future and our children's future. Experiences are how we learn, and I don't know what a society of people who live vicariously - through tv, video games, internet or movies - would be like.

Dec. 04 2009 11:53 AM
Joe from NYC

World of Warcraft!!!
Death to the Alliance! Lok'Tar Ogar! For the Horde!

Kill all Gnomes!

Dec. 04 2009 11:06 AM
desdemona finch from Brooklyn

I've got an issue with gamers, especially the addict who lives below me and is playing video games at all hours, usually until 5 a.m.

Dec. 04 2009 09:23 AM
JLS from Uptown

I am in fact a gamer and will admit to being a Nintendo partisan. That said, the biggest game of the 2000's, by sheer presence, was easily Grand Theft Auto 3. That game alone sold a ton of PS2s, establishing it as the system of the decade, and the games in the GTA 3 series continued to be released until 2007. The controversies around it, however false, would never have become so large if not for the quality of the games themselves, specifically their incredible immersiveness, and the feel of the worlds therein.

But as far as gaming as an activity goes, the biggest change in the last decade was the rise of portable and casual games, and somewhat relatedly, the resurgence of Nintendo with the DS and Wii. These phenomena brought in a wider range of players than had previously existed, and were largely unpredicted. Note that this is distinct from the overall growth in popularity and acceptance of videogames. That is really just a generational thing, pure inevitability, just like the gay marriage bill.

Finally, asking what videogames, in general, reflect about our culture is such a huge and insane question, I warn any potential respondent to first consider if they could explain what any other medium reflects about our culture.

Dec. 04 2009 03:39 AM
George from Bay Ridge

One big story was the Grand Theft Auto "hot coffee mod" incident years ago over a hidden sex scene in a video game. I would like Mr. Lehrer to also mention consoles such as the Nintendo Wii and the surprising longevity of the Playstation 2 console, now a decade old.

What do the popularity of America's Army, Guitar Hero and World of Warcraft represent? Do we enjoy war, making music and fantasy worlds?

Does Brian Lehrer play video games?

Dec. 04 2009 03:21 AM

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