By Jansten 1 Comments
Sean "Elysium" Sands wrote an article titled The Quiet Decade on Gamers With Jobs, where he feels that the last decade wasn't as interesting or fast-moving as the previous decade. He definitely does a great job breaking down why the 90s were great for gaming (and that's not the point I want to argue, those were great years), but I can't agree with his claim that gaming wasn't great in the 2000s.
This decade was when games happened.
I know, that sounds insane. Pong came home in 1975 and the NES, along with many of the consoles after it, were all incredibly popular during their lifespans. What the 2000s brought us, in comparison, was a general acceptance of games and the gamer culture.
I was in college during the first few years of the 2000s. I've always been a gamer (and a pretty serious one in my youth, if my Sounds Of My Childhood post is worth anything), but high school and college was where I realized that I was on the fringes of acceptable culture. Growing up in Northeastern Ohio, games weren't well accepted. As kids do, I found friends that enjoyed gaming as much as I did, but being a "gamer" was a Scarlet Letter that we wore. In college someone told me, looking down her nose the entire time, that games were what her 10 year old brother played, not what college-aged people did.
But college was where the culture started to turn around. The same year I entered college (2000), was when the PS2 launched in the US. Suddenly, instead of it just being a 'game console,' it was a reasonably priced DVD player, at a time where one was far too expensive for college students to justify the cost. It seemed that more and more 'non-gamers' were picking up a PS2 (and an Xbox shortly after), though the respect for the culture didn't change much. Most were insisting that their purchase was just for Madden or Halo.
So how did we get from there to here in 10 years? Social, co-operative gaming changed popular culture's opinion of gaming/gamers. The first game I really noticed the change with was Guitar Hero 2, but Rock Band and the Wii were what pushed social gaming forward. Now it wasn't your younger brother sitting in the basement playing games, we were having Rock Band and Wii parties. Millions of people were buying Wiis and DSes. There were so many stories around of people bringing their Wii home during a vacation and their parents picking one up shortly after. Suddenly, Conan O'Brien was making video game-related jokes and Jimmy Fallon was using Natal on nighttime TV. Gaming seems to be more popular and far more accepted than it was at the end of the '90s.
So let's not be too hard on these last 10 years; they've been pretty important. After all, this was the decade when games happened.
[Originally posted on my blog, Picking Up the Pixels.]