Videogames have, slowly but surely, crept into our daily lives. Even excluding the recent woeful news about Sony's issues with the PlayStation Network, television shows, movies, and other forms of media have made fairly regular mention of videogames. Games have crept in at the edges and slowly become a regular part of pop culture. Home consoles are in an incredible number of American homes, the Nintendo Wii sits in rehab facilities around the country, and virtually every blockbuster film seems to be accompanied by at least one videogame.
In his new book All Your Base are Belong to us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture, Harold Goldberg traces a history of exactly how we got from a few folks making a dot travel from one side of a monitor to the other and back again to a moment when a large videogame release can earn more than a major motion picture. Each chapter within Goldberg's book tells of a gaming company or genre and propels the tale ever forward towards the present day in fascinating fashion.
I am, perhaps, slightly biased in my view on videogames and therefore potentially Goldberg's book as well, since I derive a portion of my income from the world of videogames. It would, quite obviously, benefit me to have videogames be seen as culturally significant, but the argument that they are isn't the main thrust of the book, but rather a foregone conclusion.
In his introduction, Goldberg states that "the videogame industry in the United States is now a $20-billion-a-year juggernaut, surpassing movie, music, and DVD sales—combined." You don't get those kinds of numbers solely from people playing in their parents' basements. He goes on to talk about other ways they appear in pop culture as well, from 30 Rock and South Park to car commercials, from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to Mark Ecko clothes.
It truly is impossible to seriously suggest that videogames do not inform a significant portion of our popular culture. That is why that portion of the discussion is in the introduction and not the book proper. Goldberg makes a case for how significant games are, but one merely need look at the facts to know the truth.