Guy Cocker: Games and the media - the misunderstood art form

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Guy Cocker (@GuyCocker) was talking about gaming and mainstream media at #TIDE, these are my notes from his talk.

Are you a gamer is a trick question - there can be a lot of stigma attached to it. People watch TV more than 'gamers' game but they don't call themselves TV watchers. Games and gamification is everywhere. Play is often considered childish but it's really important in our lives.

How does the media cover video games?

Media tends to have a negative attitude to games. BAFTA host the video games awards.

  • Mobile and social - low risk. Really high volume, often free to play - free to play came from massive piracy in Korea.
  • Blockbusters - high risk. Big name series such as FIFA, CoD, GTA. Cost a lot to develop and can flop massively but GTA V is set to become the biggest game ever.
  • Independents. The distribution model is now so easy that independents have a chance.

If you think games are all about shooting things then go and play Journey.

Most common question about big game or console launches: "games are bigger than movies now, aren't they?" Games cost a lot more and fewer people engage with them. However, with things like GTA V more people are now playing the game than are going to see a blockbuster movie - it's as least as culturally significant.

GTA V is the work of over 1000 people across the world but mostly in Edinburgh - it's a UK success. Roughly a million people a day went to see Skyfall in the UK in its opening weekend. 1.67 million people in the UK bought GTA V on the first day. Games coverage tends towards the negative but GTA V is 18 rated and is no more violent than some similarly rated blockbusters. There's no film been made in the UK that approaches the budget and revenue of GTA V.

Most of the gaming coverage is on YouTube and Twitch - mainstream media is very slow to catch up. Top YouTube channel in the world is PewDiePie and it's entirely game related - 14.7 million subscribers. A good number of the top 10 channels are gaming related. Twitch has 35 million viewers - it's the live version of YouTube gaming. Average viewer watches from an hour and a half. Could be 30,000 people watching a popular live stream. Can pay about £8 a month to cut out the ads.

Mainstream game coverage will get less negative over time but it's YouTube and Twitch that are dominating. Mainstream media isn't appealing to gamers.

In PC gaming distribution methods are changing - Steam is now dominant. With digital distribution and free to play piracy is dropping significantly.