Popular culture, also known as ‘Pop Culture’ may refer to many as our modern day lifestyle in the world we live in, which is recognised and accepted by our society as a whole. These cultural patterns are commonly used as driven movements that are influenced by many aspects of todays society such as music, movies and other modern day technologies.
The opinion on pop culture can be seen as a useful expression on our society and the prevailing environment, as pop culture is the culture which is followed by the majority, and therefore reflects society as a whole. However we neglect to think about just how much video games actually influence, shape, and impact our culture, history, and way of life.
Gaming plays an important part in our lives. It is often through the meaning that we substantiate our sense and self place in life. Gaming can become an indicator of our personal values and belief in the culture which we are apart of. The association of gaming allows for individuals to reveal connections which we make with our culture in an intimate way. Gaming in context of our culture, includes everything in everyday life, from consoles, computers to even mobile devices.
It can display many aspects of our how we spend our social lives from working hours to leisure times. Pop culture can be seen as a strange thing, affecting us by the day to day events of the world it truely does throw some unique moments in our lives whilst also being considered strangely static in many ways however needless to say big change does usually comes with the implementation of new forms of media.
To fully understand the effects of video games on mainstream culture, it is important to understand the development of the culture surrounding video games itself. Culture may refer to as the customary beliefs, social forms, material traits of a racial, religious, or social groups one may choose to live their life. The word ‘culture’ itself comes from a latin term ‘colere,’ which refers to the cultivation and nurture of earth growing.
Objects such as video game consoles can help substantiate and give cultural meaning to individuals, which allows for cultural flows and open ideas to form for the people that use the platform. Over the past four decades since gamings first appearance in 1958 when developed by William Higginbotham, they have become such a stagnant and significantly impacted industrially in the area of Australian popular culture and has shaped a pathway in which modern day society has developed around. However it is not to say that when they first appeared they took the world by storm.
In fact it was not until the early seventies where their real gain in popularity grew, with some of the introductions of games such as Pac-man, Pong and Frogger hit the shelves. As video game arcades and the home video game consoles gained in popularity, youth culture quickly adapted to this type of media, engaging in competitions to gain high scores and spending hours at the arcade or with the home console. This was considered the ‘Golden Age’ of gaming as a culture.
It was at this time we saw a technical and creative design video game were depicted in arcades. These games were designed utilising a wide variety of genres, which developers worked hard within those strict limits due to the processing power and memory space that was available at the time. These arcades started to make its mainstream appearances in supermarkets, liquor stores, and petrol stations and or other many retail establishments that were interested in looking for extra incomes to their growing businesses. After the enormous success of those video games many developers hopped on board developing more projects, even if it were simply just copying games such as space invaders.
Gaming and video games itself may not seem as important as other modern day convinces, however it still holds up some valuable traits in our culture and history, the effect of video games on mainstream culture is important, they are very much like books or films. Its has values that have helped shape the way what video games have become today, its basic nature of invention and innovation has kept teens engaged in the home console for decades due to its simplistic principles that are implanted in the games we play today. Unfortunately due to the emphasis of its gameplay at the time of development is why many of these projects were discontinued and gaming became more advanced by the vastly outdated modern computing technologies we use today.
Following the widespread adoption of the digital age, the consumption of video games have partaken the longest time in many children’s social lives, joining the other major masses in our media, which is taking over children’s time and attention. Today games are available in arcades, shopping centres and for the millions of children around the world, in their own homes due to their cheaply affordability.
As children, many hours are spent within school grounds, whether it be showing up late to class, skimming through social media pretending to do school work or being physically active outside at recess or lunch times, majority of kids cannot wait until they get home to sit endless hours behind closed doors playing video games with our friends. Video games play a integral part in an individuals life, even if we have not realised it yet.
The issue that surrounds time management as a whole sees children procrastinate when it came to the dreaded words of “homework” on a weekend, telling their parents they would complete it later, even if it were to sink a few more hours into that glorious Playstation or Xbox that was calling. The state to online multiplayer games in the twenty first century has made the gaming experience for an individual less dull and dreary, and can be seen as the icing on the cake.
The online network features to a console and or PC when gaming give the release titles element of success, allowing for players to play virtually with their friends and or family. Whether this be by killing the bad guys on Call of Duties Multiplayer, running through red lights on Grand Theft Auto Online and or scoring the match winning goal against your friend on Fifa in Ultimate teams, video games only give a short glimpse into what it would feel like, look like, be like. Giving those children a sense and feeling of the tedious reality that they were in fact being drawn into.
The Critical theory behind computer games visualises gaming as a whole can more often than not correlate with Theodor W. Adorno’s theory. The field itself in the cultural industry shows the concepts utilised in Adorno’s theory, which was evolved into perspectives that focuses on studies that organisations use to create books, film and TV. Unfortunately for video games they are given lack of acknowledgement within the cultural industry even though the younger generation of online media production receives significantly more attention.
The Video game industry shows many similarities to to the cultural industry in regards to its structures and dynamics it does not however qualify from a theoretical point of view. Adorno believed it was only childish for individuals to consume their brains mental abilities capacity on wasteful and unresourceful leisure activities. He’s thought leisure time should not be for things such as relaxing and take ones mind off things instead expand and develop the human brain to reach our fullest potential and to a positive contribution to our society and develop the world as a whole.
The Cultural industry was built for many distractions keeping one clueless, and intimated on why things really should matter. The thought and idea of utilising video games as a leisure activity may seem very harmless to the individuals mine allowing them to take their mind off the reality and challenges that the world really throws at us. In this games themselves have also been marketed to the idea of merchandises being sold with the games logos and main characters. With its highly public recognition some of these game titles and characters has made them into household names which we in which we see today drawing individuals into this subcultural world.
It was also seen the entertainment that we consume such as the Saturday morning cartoons were made out of these video game characters, like Pac-Man and Super Mario Bros. This helped target the younger generation of gamers as well, broadening its audience by granting these character the centre of attention for it’s wider and expanding audience to grow.
With the introductions of new trends in popular culture there can also be a negative influence that comes along with it. While research itself does not claim that video games have a direct influence that cause violence and or crime, these behaviours still do occur within video games nevertheless. While most of these are outstanding narratives some of these scenes that partake in the game itself do follow some of these crimes committed against other individuals in the real world. It is demonstrated and illustrated that virtual worlds can make a significant impact in the way in which crimes can be reproduced.
Crimes within video games itself are almost as old and shared online like virtual environments itself. Avatars and gamer-tags are perfect example for a transition in such a crime field world to claim violations against, giving players full customisation of how they are represented in the online world can often than not come off as a threat or not. Although crimes are a very rare within this form of media it also does however suggest new ways and motives for criminal activity and present some aspects our everyday life.
Whatever one may think of Gaming and its presence and growth within the modern day popular culture, it truely does demonstrate just how far video games have come to be a dominant face within our modern day society. It’s influence on other media platforms and apart of our everyday life. These impacts and trends appear to be lessening; with the introduction newer technologies on the rise, which including the greater screen resolutions and aspect ratios, faster processors, better artificial intelligence algorithms and more sophisticated procedural generation techniques such as the increasingly immerse user interfaces like the Virtual Reality Oculus Rift.
However it is unknown how much impact video games will actually have on our culture still remains to be seen. With the extremely raid development and widespread adoption of this form of media, the technology has made consumers feel like they are playing it catch up or trying to understand the implications that the technology provides. Appearing in so many different forms and configurations in our media they have surpassed what was previously referred to by both of the terms ‘video’ and ‘games’, is still a growing part of our culture, and has begun to steer culture as well, helping it to redefine what is really popular in our culture.
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