How gaming culture is depicted in fictional settings in British and New Zealand television

There’s a global golden era well under way in video gaming.

As professional video gaming becomes a lucrative investment for those in the business and an even more lucrative vocation for those elite gamers who operate in the top 10 in the world, its influence has started to bleed into other areas, ranging from television to film and even music. British and New Zealand culture has a lot of similarities. Despite 11,000 miles separating the two countries, New Zealand remains part of the Commonwealth and the monarchy, and is an English-speaking country with plenty of Western influence.

Kiwis and Brits have much in common, with many popular British TV dramas being successfully broadcast down under. Traditional Maori and indigenous New Zealand-based entertainment is more of a niche field, but video gaming has a strong influence on and semblance to traditional tribal music and design, particularly in video console gaming and casino gaming.

The aura of mythology and the intrigue of tribal music and design in slot machine gaming has created multiple successful subgenres in land-based and online casinos, ranging from Egyptian and Norse to Greek and Roman. Tribal rhythms also play a crucial role in driving people’s interest in slot machine gaming, with more studies showing that music plays a pivotal role in cultivating interest and bringing more people into this type of gaming.

How gaming is depicted in British television

The landscape of television entertainment has completely transformed since the mid-2000s. Mainstream television in the UK has gone from the main form of entertainment to third or fourth in the pecking order, behind the likes of YouTube and streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon. Although Netflix has been establishing its business model since 1997, a large chunk of its current 230 million customers have signed up since 2010, and this has caused a seismic shift in British television ratings and how Brits watch TV and film.

Period dramas, especially those produced by the BBC, have kept British fiction relevant on a global scale. However, many landmark titles, such as Peaky Blinders, Downton Abbey and Sherlock, are set in periods when gaming wasn’t as prevalent in society as it is now. There may be the odd reference to a betting game, but video gaming is something that has emerged as a popular societal trend, almost in conjunction with the rise of Netflix, while even period dramas such as The Crown have started to find a large audience via streaming services as opposed to traditional TV channels in the UK.

Similarities in the depiction of gaming in British and NZ TV

In film and TV, where gaming is referenced, it is usually in passing or in the background of the main scene. Despite professional video gaming becoming a lucrative job for a small group of gamers who have enough natural ability to carve out a position at the top of the sport, there’s rarely any mention of games or stories that involve gaming in fictional British dramas or settings.

Likewise, the same applies to TV in New Zealand, where the scope is much smaller, with fewer programs and a smaller audience.

Despite huge shows and films such as Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones using New Zealand as the setting for their globally recognizable film and TV brands, these fictional settings stray so far from conventional society that there’s rightly no depiction of any gaming culture.

Final thoughts

Due to the close relationship between the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and the global nature of streaming services, the idea of uniquely British and particularly New Zealand-based television is a shrinking pool. As advertisers, writers and actors seek out the big money that is available via streaming services that bring in billions of dollars per year, and fewer people watch standard television, this situation will become ever more complex as the big four or five streaming services begin to develop an oligopoly on the industry.

Regardless of whether they’re putting out day or nighttime dramas, many mainstream television producers and writers have adopted the formula of period or soap dramas that have proved to be a consistent, reliable hit. Many of these shows fall into predictable story patterns, most of which are cyclical and leave little to no wriggle room for societal trends to take up a big part of the story. Currently, video gaming is a rapidly growing industry, but it is understandable why depictions are so limited and why the scope will continue to be narrow moving forward.