As a high school teacher, I discuss games with my students on a day to day basis. This is usually one-on-one, but I can still paint a shaky picture of their generational/regional preferences. The surprise is, well, their habits aren't too different than mine. FIFA contingent aside, the horizontal slice of gaming culture, even in rural Southeast Idaho, is incredibly diverse. The CODs and Halos get mentioned without question, but I never imagined I'd be able to talk to five-plus kids about our experiences with VVVVVV or Gone Home.
What is it about gaming culture that transcends generational preference and habits? I can ask these same kids about similar cuts from cinema and music, and they'll have no idea what I'm talking about or they'll have heard in passing, but do exactly that, pass it as pretentious "adult" drivel. When I was in high school, I might have been the type to actively seek these experiences in every medium, but never did I sharpen my sense until late into my college career. Yet these kids know it all and love it all. Their sense is already sharp.
Games as a medium are even more chaotic and diverse than film and music, so why are they easier to navigate? I'm not sure, but it likely has to do with their strong internet culture. Unique experiences send ripples through the varying communities, Twitch and Youtube singlehandedly create bestsellers out of indies, and reviews can float or sink even the triplest of the triple-As.
And there's a strange pack mentality with games. Experiences differ, but are united by a faded stigma. Parents that don't understand are still a dime a dozen, so playing a game in and of itself is an act that (passively?) defies the powers that be. The generations that grew up playing games are now the becoming the gatekeepers for culture. They're the ones creating the content, distributing it, and promoting it. The big dogs can finally wear the medium of a badge of honor, and in fine print, they say, "We Told You So."
I'm happy with the swelling enthusiasm behind gaming. It feels great to be along for the ride, though I can't help but dream about a similar enthusiasm for the old--no, not the old, the tried and true. Books and film, oh, if only you had a fervent following of fifteen year old boys that'd spew toxic "your-mom"s on your behalf.