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Video Games: An Overview

Video Games as a medium has become a force to be reckon with in the Pop Culture of the current millennia. It is a billion dollar industry which not only brought a lot of impact to a lot of people but it has also changed the history of technology. With conglomerates like Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo etc. competing against each other and investing their money, resources, manpower to the industry not only for profit but also for the sake of the consumers who are a part of this community. Games like Mario, Legend of Zelda, GTA, Call of Duty, Halo and vice versa have brought a huge impact in the world stage.

The industry is also responsible for producing a lot of talented people from the gaming community like Dr Disrespect, Shroud, Ninja, Carryminati, TheActMan, TheRadBrad, Pewdiepie, BeastBoy, Markiplier, Jacksepticeye and vice versa thus showing that the video games industry is capable of making careers.

Video games have become a culture of its own thanks to the rise of the internet. Now people aren't only playing for casual means but also created its own sport. With the E-Sports becoming mainstream people are playing video games for rewards like money or they stream online for the fund raising for the charity. Which is why games like PUBG, Call Of Duty, League of Legends, World of Warcraft and so on are popular E-Sports games.

The culture is has expanded to novels, movies, music, anime, web series. For example Red vs Blue which is a popular web-series (made by Rooster Teeth[i]) is made from the Halo series thus creating a universe of its own. Video Game movies are terrible in general like The Super Mario Bros[ii] or Silent Hill[iii] or the Resident Evil[iv] movies. However in the recent times video game movies are getting better like Detective Pikachu[v] or Sonic the Hedgehog[vi].

The culture has also brought mainstream celebrities to give their voice role in Video Games like Norman Reedus in Death Stranding[vii] or Kiefer Sutherland in Metal Gear Solid V[viii]. Because of this people like Hideo Kojima, Gabe Newell, Todd Howard, Shigeru Miyamoto etc. have become the icons of video games industry.

For some, it is a casual means of spending your time with your friends and family members. For others it is a means for escaping from the horrors of reality for some period of time. Video Games as a medium has brought solace to people who are been shunned from either school or college or a working place which resulted in the rise of the nerd culture. The nerd culture is what the hippie culture was back during the Vietnam War and The Civil Rights Era.

Because like the hippies, the nerds were also shunned by the mainstream establishment due to their different qualities of personalities, quirks, behavior and emotions. They find solace in each other just like the German Soldiers did in the novel, All Quiet on The Western Front[ix]. They show disdain for the people who have been part of the abusive system in school, college or workplace. And yet they enjoy their time together. Video Games played a huge role in helping them get through the tough times.

Video Games have also gained notoriety among many people. Its status is that of a Public Enemy Number 1 just like Al Capone was back in his prime days. Video Games have been targeted by conservatives, liberals, religious people, feminists, politicians and parents. According them video games are violent, sexist, not inclusive, racist, anti-religious and overall a waste of time.

In India parents consider it a waste of time because video games is a non academic work and because of the academic importance in the Indian society many parents are against the idea of buying a video game console as it is considered as a materialistic luxury even though they turn a blind eye on an education system which has been commercialized and only cares about profit rather than the mental health, safety and well being of the students[x]. And let's not forget the toxic environment of the school system in India.[xi] Video Game Corporations are also committing unethical business and competition practices as well as plain anti consumer practices.

The video game companies are the corporate equivalent of Harshad Mehta and just like Harshad Mehta scammed banks, video game companies have scammed the consumers with its monetization systems. For example the Star Wars Battlefront II loot box controversy[xii] brought the legislative brass to question the practices of EA. This brings video games industry on a bad light but it also made people aware about the current issues of the video game industry.

History of Video Games
Although the first video game existed in the early 1950s[xiii], video game started gaining popularity in 1972 with the release of an arcade game Pong. It was made by an American company Atari. In this game two paddles are suppose to volley a ball back and forth[xiv]. Pong became an instant success and in 1977, Atari released the 2600 system which was a home console. The console became a huge hit in the late 1970s and the early 1980s until the video game of 1983.

Reasons for the crash of 1983[xv]
  1. The over saturation of the video game console market. By giving more choice to the choice to the consumers it created a huge confusion on which console to buy.
     
  2. Atari's failure to capitalize on the success of the 2600 series by making 5200 series which was a terrible console. Its horrendous adaptation of Pac Man and E.T: The Extra Terrestrial, the latter of which is made within 6 months only to be dumped in a New Mexico site because it was hated by the gamers and critics. These two games were considered as the worst games of all time.
     
  3. The success of late 1970s and early 1980s made video games companies to rush the production of video games which resulted in a lot of terrible video games with the exceptions of the games made by Activision.
     
  4. The rise of Personal Computers put a final nail in the coffin and thus leading to the video game crash. This led to the devastating recession with a lot of game companies been shut down.

In 1983, the network of the industry was $3.2 billion dollars and by 1985 the network was only $100 million dollars. In 1987 a Japanese company Nintendo created a game where a plumber travels all around the world to save the princess from a villain. This came to be known as Mario. With that alongside the NES system made Nintendo not only a household name but it also saved the video game industry from the crash.[xvi] Mario also became a forced to be reckon with and his recognition could even challenge Micky Mouse. Even to this day Mario remains as the most popular video game characters of all time. Games like The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong which were also made by Nintendo and their characters are also popular to this day.

By the time the 1990s came, Nintendo started to face fierce rivals like Sega and Sony. This led to the beginning of the console wars. Sega came with the console like Sega Genisis[xvii] and the new mascot which could challenge Mario- Sonic The Hedgehog[xviii]. Sony on the other hand created a new console which could change the face of the video game history- The Playstation which came in 1994[xix].

The console not only changed the course of the war but also brought a new competition and a burden to Nintendo. The 1990s saw a lot of great video game consoles like SNES, Gameboy, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and the list goes on.[xx] Games like Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy 7, Metal Gear Solid, Crash Brandicoot, Pokemon, Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, Doom, Wolfestein, Diablo, Fallout, Half-Life etc. were the popular games in the 1990s.[xxi]

The 1990s were also a time when politicians started paying attention to video games. 1993 the US Congress decided to enact the Entertainment Software Rating Board or the ESRB system. Games like Mortal Kombat, Doom which were popular in the PCs and Video Game Consoles were criticized for being violent as well as bringing blood and gore and blood which could affect the young and impressionable audience. Which is why the folks of the US Congress felt that games that are mature should only be bought by mature audience or by the audience who are above 18 years old.[xxii] When the Columbine High School Massacre[xxiii] happened on 20th April 1999.

There were questions which were raised, one of them being – “Does Video Games makes people violent ?” This was raised because one of the perpetrators of Columbine was a fan of Doom. Even though these are the same people who turned a blind eye on the war in Yugoslavia particularly in Kosovo.[xxiv] The argument of video games causes' violence is also debunked by lot of researchers.[xxv][xxvi]

In 2001, Microsoft released its own video game console i.e. the Xbox[xxvii] which became a competitor against both Sony's Playstation 2 and Nintendo's Gamecube. Xbox is also responsible for revolutionizing the online gaming community[xxviii]. Although Playstation 2 is still best selling console of all time with 158 units sold as of 2020[xxix]. Xbox and Gamecube were also better console at the time. Consoles like the PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, 3DS, PSP came out.

Although PS3 suffered to make sales due to the launch price which was very expensive.[xxx] Xbox 360 suffered from the infamous Red Ring of Death although it was sorted out soon.[xxxi] Nintendo also suffered from its own problems as well like the remote which makes the players play physically.[xxxii] Games like Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted 1 and 2, Killzone, Halo Trilogy, Call of Duty Modern Warfare and the list goes on.[xxxiii]

The 2010s saw the console like the Playstation 4, Nintendo Wii U and Switch and Xbox One. Microsoft made a fool of themselves because of the Xbox One suffered from one of the worst launches of 2010s[xxxiv] Although Nintendo Wii U suffered from the sales making it their worst selling consoles by selling only 13 million units[xxxv] it redeemed itself with Nintendo Switch which made the Nintendo brand more popular.[xxxvi] The games came that came out in 2010s were Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last of Us Remastered, Uncharted 4, Doom 2016, Metal Gear Solid 5, Death Stranding, Fortnite, PUBG, Apex Legends, Battlefield 1 and vice versa.

The 2010s also saw one of the biggest controversies of all time i.e. Gamergate controversy. The questions were raised by journalists like Anita Sarkeesian and Briana Wu. They questioned about the diversity and inclusiveness of video games and the sexism that exist in the video game industry [xxxvii]. With the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein incident, it is understandable that there is sexism in every industry. Women in video games or any industry for that matter faces the problem of sexual harassment or gender discrimination.[xxxviii] Anita Sarkeesian also received a lot of death and rape threats which, in a right mind should be condemned and the person making such threats should be punished.[xxxix]

Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code states that threatening to cause criminal intimidation will result to 2 years of imprisonment or fine or both. If a threat is about death or grievous hurt then the punishment will be of imprisonment which will be extend to 7 years or fine or both.[xl] On the other hand Miss Sarkeesian was been criticized by many people. Few of the criticism are her inaccuracies, the one sided arguments she make, her lack of knowledge in gaming.[xli] Her credibility was also questioned when the report she made in the UN was criticized for the lack of research, bogus studies[xlii][xliii] and it was later retracted.[xliv]

With 2020 and the new consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X, the two exceptionally great consoles will make the console wars even more intense.

Advantages of Video Games [xlv][xlvi][xlvii]
  1. Video Games can be used for reducing stress.
  2. Video Games can be used for helping people with disabilities like Autism and Dyslexia.
  3. It can be used for the improvement for the decision making skills.
  4. It can help a person to socialize with other people. Eg Death Stranding's connection system helps people to interact with one another even without meeting them face to face.
  5. It can increase the ability to learn. A study conducted by University College London and Queen Mary University and it was concluded that it can boast a better cognitive flexibility.
  6. It helps in hand to eye coordination.
  7. Gaming could be good for pain relief. Scientist presented their research at the American Pain Society's conference where they concluded that video games and VR games could be effective at reducing anxiety or pain caused by chronic illness or medical procedures.
  8. Games like Tetris could be used to limit trauma.
    And more…
     
Disadvantages of Video Games [xlviii][xlix][l][li]
  1. Lack of other hobbies and poor academic performance.
  2. Gaming addiction can also slow down the growth of the brain.
  3. It could affect the eyesight negatively and can also result in insomnia.
  4. Although video games causing violence arguments have been debunked it does not mean that video games can affect them. Studies show that it could make young children violent.
  5. Video Games can also be responsible for bringing out the anti-social side of people.
  6. Games can often confuse fantasy with reality.
    And more…
In short, video games may be an interactive medium but it is still a medium with its pros and cons.

Video Games and India
India as a growing economy and as a potential super power has a growing gaming industry. As of 2020 the market value of her gaming industry is 90 billion Rupees and by 2022 it can rise up to 143 billion Rupees. And with a rapid growing gaming industry it could also bring 40 thousand new job opportunities which could be beneficiary to the economy.[lii]

Reasons for the booming gaming industry in India: [liii]
  1. India's market in the gaming industry is young.
  2. India has 560 million internet users, making it the second largest internet user in the world, only falling behind China.
  3. Mobile gaming is gaining a lot of traction in India.
  4. Localised content for the Indian market. Raji: an Ancient Epic is an example of how India has the potential of making great video games.[liv]
  5. The rise of e-sports in India.
  6. India's booming IT and Tech sector.
  7. Widespread use of digital online payment methods.
     
Laws and Video Games [lv]
  1. Article 19(2)- The Article 19(1) of the Constitution of gives the right to freedom to all its citizens but Article 19(2) serves as a reasonable restriction for the freedom of speech and expression on the grounds of morality and decency.
     
  2. Article 39 (e) and (f)- The Constitution protects the children from being abused or corrupted. It also ensures that children should be provided with mental and facilities in a healthy way with dignity therefore they should be protected from any exploitation.
     
  3. Section 5(B)(I) of the Cinematograph provides the rules and regulations of the Censor Board of the Film and they have the power to reject the request of the movie maker on the grounds of decency and morality.
     
  4. Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code punishes someone who provides the crime of obscene publication whether it could be physical or digital.
     
  5. Section 67, 67A and 67B of the Information Technology Act, 2000. In the case of Sharat Babu Digumatri vs Government of NCT of Delhi, the Supreme Court held that the IPC can make the publication of obscene material through traditional means as an offence but if the offence has a connection with the electronic medium, then the person should be charged under the IT Act and not the IPC which gives the former an advantage over the latter regarding special cases.
     
  6. The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986- Any indecent, derogatory depiction of women's figure or body which could denigrate, deprave or corrupt morality through advertisements, publications, paintings, writings, figures etc. could lead to the imprisonment of 2 years and fine of INR 2000 with severe punishments if the offences are repeated.

Misconception of video games in India
Isn't it ironic that people who say that video games are a waste of time are the same people who are watching a Netflix show for 18 hours. There is a huge misconception in India that video games are not beneficial or not earning. Because academics is given more importance in India, anything which not academic is often discouraged.

Say, there is a movie called Apna Aasman[lvi] where a couple wanted their autistic son to be genius in math, even though the son was an art genius but because of the social insecurity the parents discouraged him from pursuing art. The parents eventually drugged him with a brain booster which they made him genius but they soon realized the hard way of forcing their dream onto their son's throat. Let's give an another example since the article is about video games.

A is the son of D and C, A spends most of his time studying in school, then in coachings and when he return home, he studies for another 2-3 hours with no breaks. He wants to play video games for an hour but he knows his parents won't let him as they have the mentality that video games are a waste of time[lvii]. This continues for few more years until this takes a toll on him and he commits suicide.

This is also worth mentioning the fact that the education system in India has commercialized a lot[lviii] and the disregard of mental health shown by the educational institutions[lix] and the parental pressure are making students to commit suicide.[lx] There is also the increasing numbers of hikikomoris in India. In simple words Hikikomori is a practice where a person withdraws from the outside world. One of the habits of hikikomori are video games.

The causes for their situation are:
  1. Disturbed family background
  2. Conflict in school, college, working place or with significant other
  3. Mental Trauma like PTSD or disorders like Asperger's syndrome.[lxi]
  4. Apps, Technology, Internet and the Social Media[lxii]
  5. The education system, the bullying[lxiii]
The misconception of free time in the Indian Society could be applied to other hobbies just the same as video games like drawing, playing outside, reading novels etc. This shows how little regard is given to personal development of people.

Incidents of Video Game Corporations
Companies like Electronic Arts, Activsion, Konami, Capcom, Blizzard etc. have been called out by a lot of people for their greedy, unethical and anti—consumer practices:
  1. The Monetization system:
    The current monetization system imposed by the video game companies are very harmful in the business practices. American Youtuber the ActMan has shown concerns regarding how corporations like EA are being greedy, unethical and anti- consumer when the Battlefront 2 lootbox controversy rose up.

    The same applies to the sport games as well. This has gotten so bad that the Hawaii House of Representative member Chris Lee has called it ‘a Star Wars themed online casino to lure kids'.[lxiv]

    The Hawaiian lawmakers even wanted bills to regulate loot boxes.[lxv] EA's practices often hated by gamers which is why they call it the worst company on the internet[lxvi] as well as the most hated company in America twice.[lxvii] The Dutch Court fine EA to pay 10 million Euros for the loot boxes screw up.[lxviii] is not the only guilty party that does this. Activision, Ubisoft are also guilty for promoting such practices. Konami took a few steps further when they began monetizing the save slots in Metal Gear Survive.[lxix
     
  2. Konami also came under fire when they fired Hideo Kojima who was the creator of the Metal Gear Franchise and also cancelling the next Silent Hill game[lxx] Konami was also been called out for its unethical treatment of their employees. The top brass of Konami even demoted an employee just because she was pregnant. Other accusations are blacklisting employees, copying songs and disrespecting their own IPs via making them gambling machines.[lxxi]
     
  3. Blizzard came under fire when they banned a Hearstone player named Blitzchung and two announcers for supporting Hong Kong Protest. People have condemned this decision and also it shows a hypocrisy of Blizzard for praising the George Floyd protests and yet they banned a gamer for supporting a protest. Some see it as Blizzard's way of pleasing the Chinese government. This got so bad that the US Congress got involved and told Blizzard to reinstate Blitzchung. The latter eventually got reinstated and the two announcers also got suspension but the damage has already been done. This has tarnished Blizzard's reputation irrevocably.[lxxii][lxxiii][lxxiv]

Conclusion with reference to the Covid-19
As the current Covid-19 pandemic is going on, the video game industry is thriving on the current pandemic. The video game sales in March approached $1.6 billion representing a 35% year over year increase according to the NPD.[lxxv]

According to Activison about 75 million players are playing Call of Duty:
Warzone as of August during the pandemic.[lxxvi] According to the New York Times, the sales in video games are going up but the production is going down. Games like the Last of Us 2 was delayed till May of this year[lxxvii] and Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed till December of this year.[lxxviii] The delays are causing a huge burnout to the game developers. But despite of the setbacks the video game industry is profiting off the pandemic.

In conclusion, video games as a medium has its ups and downs. Video games are like the Justin Bieber of entertainment because they lots of fans and lots of critics and in spite of all of the challenges, the industry has also achieved a lot of things which not only changed the history of technology but also the technology of the world.

End-Notes:
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  5. https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/pokemon-detective-pikachu
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  74. https://youtu.be/1G6oRuu9tLg
  75. https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2020/05/12/video-game-industry-coronavirus/
  76. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/covid19-coronavirus-pandemic-video-games-entertainment-media/
  77. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/21/technology/personaltech/coronavirus-video-game-production.html
  78. https://www.kotaku.com.au/2020/12/and-yet-another-game-delays-to-dodge-cyberpunk-2077/

    Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Anish Bachchan

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