When video games first made their appearance, they were often seen as uncool.
However, over time, video games inched their way into the mainstream, and as such, they entered into a mutually influential relationship with other elements of pop culture. Video games influenced and, in turn, were influenced by television, films and music. This relationship continues to this day. So let’s get into it.
Television programmes have been influenced by video games since the 1980s. Initially, their influence was relegated to cartoons, smaller shows based on games like Pac-Man, the legend of Zelda and Mario had some success. However, it was in the 90s that a show based on a video game really took off. Pokémon was originally developed for the Nintendo Gameboy before it found unparalleled success in the mainstream. Anyone who grew up in the nineties or early oughts’ can attest to the influence that Pokémon had from the tv show to the films to the card games. Pokémon was so successful, and it held such a special place for a lot of millennials that it had a resurgence in the 2010s with a mobile game that was innovative in its approach overlaying graphics on the world around us.
Due to the fantastical nature of most video games, they are much better suited to cartoons than live-action. That being said, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. In 2019 the ever-popular and thought-provoking tv show Black Mirror released an episode surrounding a Mortal Kombat-style video game. Gaming has continued to innovate, with so many new approaches being taken. For example, take online gambling. Live games are one of the newer iterations, which you can find in spades from Play Live Casino, among a plethora of other games.
Video games and films have enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the video games guaranteeing the film and audience and the fans of the films being introduced to the games. The first successful film based on a video game was 1995’s Mortal Kombat. At the time, the film failed to break into the top twenty at the box office, although it has since come to have a cult following. After that, the next film to really make an impact was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001, starring Angelina Jolie. This film saw unparalleled success for the time, and it hasn’t really been rivalled as of yet. Several films followed, like Prince of Persia or Tron, but they have yet to make the same impact or reach the same level of success as Lara Croft.
Films also impacted the video game industry, specifically in their marketing efforts. A lot of video games today put together a trailer of sorts to show potential buyers what they would get. In the past, the games were advertised on a smaller scale, catering directly to the perceived buyers. However, nowadays, because video games are more mainstream, they go through more traditional marketing channels and emulate the approach of many films in the past.
Ever since their first iteration, video games have been overlayed with music. The jaunty little tunes played over the graphics of the game were catchy. The tunes consisted mainly of computer-made beeps. It was only with the introduction of the Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64 and the original PlayStation that it became possible to sample audio. This meant that for the first time, songs created using the recordings of actual instruments could be featured in the games.
From then on, video game music became a niche in its own right, taking on an almost filmic approach with full orchestras, vocals and a high production quality. In fact, video game scores today are a huge business. The soundtracks to video games aren’t always created from scratch. In some instances, existing songs are used on the soundtrack, which can help to give a song a new lease on life. Although the opposite also happens, some bands and musicians choose to cover video game music which can then go viral, helping to bring more recognition to their music. There are also a few video games which combine the two. Guitar Hero and Rock Band are probably the best examples of this.
In the past, video games were often looked down on. A lot of people thought that they were mind-rotting entertainment which catered to the unproductive. This was simply not true. Video games have made huge cultural contributions over the years, and they continue to do so. Gaming has become much more sophisticated from the first iterations. It is a huge global industry that brings in record profits every year. Games today even grace the covers of magazines and enter national discussions. There is no doubt that they continue to have a transformative effect on other areas of the entertainment industry.