Money isn’t the ultimate arbiter of cultural significance, but it’s surely the next best thing. And iff you buy that, video games, a creative industry generating some 100 billion dollars a year, long since made the grade.
Video games have a distinctive culture and aesthetic that is increasingly influential on and visible in mainstream culture. The bleeps and wump-wump-wumps of Dubstep nostalgically recall the playtime sounds of a late 20th century childhood. The televisual language of sporting events is a dialectic of sports video games. The field is flattened and augmented with statistics, infographics and advertisements.
I don’t claim that such cross-fertilisation is unique to video games: it is the nature of ideas, forms and motifs to osmose across cultural membranes. However that interplay has become more obvious in recent years. There have long been games of movies of books; now there are books of movies of games too.
There is much that could be written about video games, but I want to focus on one increasingly significant way in which games are influencing our broader culture and society. It’s called gamification.