Culture Crush

Lessons from Video Games

Surprising and entertaining insights from the defining media of our time.

Today, the video game industry is larger than Hollywood, larger than television, and undoubtedly the defining media of the early 21st century. Immersive, engaging, and visually innovative, today’s video games have come a long way from their simple 8-bit progenitors. Here are just three of the ways that this participatory genre is changing how we see and interact with the world around us.

Redefining Failure

Entrepreneurs and marketers the world over are telling us that failure is just one step closer to success. But video games turn that lesson into lived experience. Many folks get frustrated at the first misstep in real world projects, giving up on novels, diets, and wacky-wonderful ideas. But not gamers. No one fires up Dragon Age: Inquisition expecting to charge through the whole world and vanquish Corypheus’ dragon on the first try. Nor would they want to. Today’s best video games are about experiencing the journey and going through the process of learning how to accomplish your mission. The player’s base assumption is that they are capable of winning, even if it takes hundreds of hours to learn just the right button-pressing choreography. Learning from failure and working to achieve a goal no matter how long it takes and how hard it gets is a useful skill that more people could bring to their real world endeavors. Every challenge can become an opportunity to level-up in experience.

Storytelling on Steroids

We all know that stories make ideas infectious. Video games take storytelling to a whole new level by crafting immersive and engaging worlds. It’s an utterly new relationship between creator and consumer. As video game curator Chris Melissinos has said, “Video games are the only forms of artistic expression that allow the authoritative voice of the author to remain true while allowing the observer to explore and experiment.” This turbo-charged potential to get players actively engaged in a story has yet to be fully spun out. But as the technology and gameplay continues to develop, we can be sure that more brands will turn to game-like interactions to build a following.

Transformative Artworks

Just as film and television utterly changed the landscape of our imaginations over the past 50 years, the remarkable worlds and emerging technologies of video games are pushing art and experience to new levels. The leading expression of motion capture techniques, 3D environments, and augmented reality have all come from the video game industry. The Oculus Rift, a 3D virtual reality platform, was initially developed for gaming but is now being put to work for everything from training Norwegian tank drivers to creating new NASA interfaces to treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Video games are a burgeoning creative medium, one with all of the expressive power of visual art and the technological potential to turn any idea into reality.

Got you hooked? Here’s more:

Reach

Could a Video Game Help to Preserve Inuit Culture?
The New Yorker’s Simon Parkin on the impact of an innovative new game

Watch

Why I brought Pac-man to MoMA
Paola Antonelli on the acquisition of video games

Slice

Surgery robot as video game as art
Learn why the da Vinci Surgical model was acquired into “The Art of Video Games”

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