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The video gaming games to be the new x-games

April 12, 2005

Nielsen recently conducted a survey on the video game market. Nielsen’s two major findings were; men now spend more money on games, than music and that 25% of gamers are now over 40 years of age. This is all further evidence of the massification of video gaming, which is now a $10billion business, the equivalent of US box office.

Influx recently reported on EAs plans for The Godfather game, with its goal being to create an emotionally compelling experience that can rival a movie. While EA has made no secret of its desire to partner with the studios to create games, it also wants to compete directly with them for entertainment dollars.

Although big business, video games have yet to achieve cultural salience on a mass level. There have been art shows and urban hipsters have celebrated the irony of 80s video games, but Middle America has yet to embrace them. The problem: in a workaholic culture, video games have been associated and coded with sloth.

A way around is to celebrate the video game as an athletic/sporting endeavor. While the stealthy, slow-paced skills of poker continues to enthrall audiences on multiple cable networks, how come video game tournaments don’t get similar coverage and the industry has yet to develop a bona-fide star?

Its not as if these events and leagues arent out there. In early April this year
5,000 gamers gathered in Norway for a LAN tournament, that’s almost Olympic scale. However, unlike the Olympics, there were no spectators and the worldwide TV audience was zero, rather than several billion.

The video game has a huge opportunity to move away from its sloth image and tap into the competitive culture of America by becoming more sportslike. As Nielsen data informs us, this is a young broad male biased demographic, which by our calculations, constitutes a premium TV audience; an audience advertisers so desperately want to reach.

Surely, it’s not beyond the video game industries capability to create an X-Games for video games?

In two years time, perhaps we all might all be marveling at the moves of a Doom player in the final tournament, which caught our imagination, instead of a putt at the Masters.

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