Stephen Totilo: ‘Gaming takes over everything’

Stephen Totilo, Axios:

Video games will move to the center of the entertainment and pop-culture universe next year.

Why it matters: Streaming services, Hollywood studios, tech giants — even the Saudi government — are racing to capitalize on gaming’s vast and ever-expanding popularity, and its lucrative intellectual property.

Between the lines: This is what happens when a subculture has been deepening its roots for a half-century.

  • Many of the first kids who grew up with gaming become gamer parents, ready to pass gaming to the new generation.
  • Power takes notice. Outside elites elbow in.
  • Inside, young workers and players look around and see their once-rebellious pastime as an establishment that needs to be challenged.

The bottom line: From World of Warcraft to Wordle, it’s a game-lover’s world.

I’d been thinking a lot about why my blogging on Zero Counts has steadily slowed down. A lot of it has to do with the a busier work-life. Some of it has to do with my duties as a new parent. But I can’t help to think that it’s simply harder to have unique takes on games and the games industry, and for good reason. Not only has the mainstream popularity of gaming skyrocketed, but so too has solid coverage from mainstream media — Totilo (formerly of Kotaku) writing for Axios as an example. I touched on this one year ago in ’NYT: Making Video Game History‘.

The odd bits of coverage I found in mainstream media was an inspiration for Zero Counts. I captured what I could to elevate said pieces, but I didn’t feel the gaming space was being covered in a way I wanted to see. I’m no business expert, but I did what I could to fill the gap. Now video game coverage from top-tier veteran games journalists, critics, and analysts is ubiquitous at major media outlets. Meanwhile, traditionally games focused outlets seem to be leaning into the surrounding media (movies, tv, anime, comics, conventions, etc.) more than ever, which makes sense seeing that media at large is incorporating more and video game IP into it’s catalog.

None of this is a bad thing. In fact, quite the opposite. I love how big this hobby of mine has become. It’s important. It influences so much of the world around us from technology to entertainment to education to culture to art, and it’s not getting smaller. There is obviously a huge dark-side to Big Business — “elites elbow in” creating “an establishment that needs to be challenged” — I’m just glad (read “hope”) press coverage has grown to a level to hold it accountable.

Or perhaps this new father who grew up with gaming is just happy to see the medium proliferate, is optimistic about the new generation, and was giddy to see this piece published on his birthday.