Today our society is a vast array of technological advances.Every year sees the newest and latest rendition of all types of technology thatmake life easy and more enjoyable and video games are just about them. With theincreasing numbers of people playing video games around the world, there is nodenying the effect it has on people all over the world. Within the gamingcommunity, it is important to have a basic knowledge of the gaming culture andhow it affects our society.
From mobile games on our handheld devices, e.g.cell phones and tablets, to bigger platforms e.g.
home console systems(PlayStation, Nintendo), laptops and PC’s: video games have infiltrated oureveryday lives. Amongst all the variety of video game platform, I will be discussing online video games and how itaffects our mass culture, how it shapes us and brings people together. I will bediscussing briefly the back history of video games, in general, leading intoonline gaming. Then using an immensely popular online game called World ofWarcraft as an example of this cultural phenomenon.The history of gaming is a continued debate on when it cameto fruition but popular opinion usually settles on the early 1970s with thefirst game called Spacewar! created in 1962 by computer programmers. Shortlythereafter the invention of the Atari 2600 home console system in 1972 by NolanBushnell and Ted Dabney pioneered gaming as we know today. Home-based PC videogames came about during the late 1970s well into the early 1980s with the AppleII and Commodore PET. Later on came the cheaper models of these PC’s and wascalled the Commodore 64 which made it more affordable for people to have intheir homes.
With the increasing demand forcomputing power old DOS graphics weren’t enough, so we start to see the rise in3D graphics, CD-ROM’s and sound cards. Elite, Alpha Waves, and Elite Plus onMS-DOS are a few examples of these early games using 3D graphics. Then in thelate 1990s, we began to see more enhanced graphics in PC games with affordableupgrade technology such as 3D accelerator cards or graphics processing unit(GPU) for the personal computers. After this, the emergence of better qualityonline games started being produced such as Age of Empires, Quake, StarCraftseries, and the Warcraft series. These games depended on web-browser pluginslike Java and Adobe Flash to function properly on the home PC.
This will be thetip of the iceberg when it comes to the massive market in the online video gameindustry and its major influence on society today.In today’s generation technology is constantly changing andvideo games, in general, have continuedto evolve rapidly. It has also influenced, shaped, and impacted our culture andway of life. This influence has carried over for the past 30 years and helpedkick-start a cultural revolution with the latest gaming technology still indevelopment being virtual reality gaming.
Online video games continue to grow and evolve, thus establishingitself as a prominent force in the video game world. Offering high-qualitygraphics, relatable characters, immense gameplay, and a connection to play withother players from all over the world online video games provides an avenue forany person to get lost in and enjoy. No matter what online game a personchooses to play, the connection to other people is the main focal point of howit has become such a cultural phenomenon.
Being able to make friends from allover the world to share your love of video games helps to void out culturalbarriers, bringing them together under a common interest. Another top influenceof online video games is education; more importantly, it helps to encourageproblem-solving skills and logical reasoning. With certain games, a person isable to solve puzzles creatively in a literal and figuratively ways whiledeveloping better motor skills such as hand-eye coordination and quick decisionmaking when under stress. These games also provide an incentive for increasedtyping skills and greater reading comprehension.The impact of online video games such as World of Warcraft,created in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment, is massive in scale and hasintersected itself with pop culture. With an overallof 12 million subscribers in its peak World of Warcraft also called WoW forshort definitely left its mark on the world. The game has been going strong for12 years and it is followed by six expansions that extend the storyline of thegame (Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor, and Legion) witha 7th one (Battle for Azeroth) on its way next year in 2018. This masterpieceof a game sees billions of hours of gameplay and shows no signs of slowingdown.
Even if a person has never played the game before or knows much about itthe word WoW is a shorthand that is easily recognized when mentioned. The gameis a world of fantasy that is defined by its lampoons and incorporates homagesof pop culture mixed with their own storytelling, gaining items in-game, andearning achievements. Examples of these homages range from Paris Hilton, TheLegend of Zelda Nintendo game series, Rambo, and Indiana Jones just to name afew. WoW even received its own episode on the widely popular adult cartoonSouth Park called Make Love, Not Warcraft (Season 10, Ep. 8) that help defineWarcraft as a home for pop culture references but also being big enough to holditself on its own. WoW is known to have brought back the fantasy genre backinto the cultural mainstream as to the like of the popular Lord of the Ringsmovie franchise. Men, Women, young, old, celebrity, regular people, anyone canfind their place in World of Warcraft and play together and make lastingfriendships, relationships, and marriages with WoW-themedweddings. Another example of its impact on pop culture is the Leeroy Jenkinsvideo (that can be found on YouTube) that established itself as the firstinternet memes.
The name Leeroy later would become a verb that means to rush head-oninto a situation of danger with no regard to the potential consequences. WoWhas cemented its place in pop culture history winning the hearts of millions andfound its immortality that will last a lifetime.In conclusion, videogames continue to be prominent in our modern-daysociety. The major impact that video games in general provide can vary fromhelping provide social skills to cognitive development skills. Online videogames provide an immersive and fun escape from the mundane realities ofeveryday life while improving motor skills and quick thinking.
With video gamespeople can come together and form friendships which helps improve self-esteemand confidence, thus providing positive mental health development. The expanseof video games over the past 30 years has grown exponentially and I believewill continue to do so the more technology grows. Online video games willcontinue to have a major impact on society through these means stated above andhave no signs of slowing down or disappearing from our culture.