Is gaming the new Hollywood?
The entertainment industry is turning its attention to game-tainment, a new breed of cinema.
Gaming is drawing record numbers of players and spectators. The Sims 4 game, for example, hit a peak of almost 10 million monthly active users in the second quarter of 2020, with 2.5 million joining in May and June. On 1 July 2020, more than 160,000 viewers tuned in to watch popular gamer Ninja play Fortnite on YouTube.
The Tribeca Film Festival is bridging the gap between entertainment and gaming. The festival’s advisory board has announced that from 2021, it would be adding video games to its official line-up, along with an inaugural Tribeca Games Award. “Where there was once a clear delineation between media, there is now a blurring of the lines – stories have become games and games have become stories,” said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival and Tribeca Enterprises.
Other leaders in entertainment agree. In July 2020, Sony announced a massive investment in Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite. The $250 million investment gives the entertainment giant a 1.4% stake in the gaming company – and foretells a growing crossover between the silver screen and the computer screen. “Sony and Epic have both built businesses at the intersection of creativity and technology, and we share a vision of real-time 3D social experiences leading to a convergence of gaming, film and music,” said Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games. Bringing this vision to life, Sony and Epic jointly announced a new immersive reality concert experience at CES 2021, debuting on PlayStation VR and Oculus VR later this year.
Cable channel TBS is also tapping into game-tainment with its new Sims reality television show, The Sims Spark’d, presented by ELeague, the gaming arm of Turner. The four-episode miniseries, which debuted on 17 July 2020, features 12 contestants competing in timed challenges. Contestants must create the most unique characters, worlds and storylines within the popular life simulation game, in a format echoing that of Project Runway and The Great British Bake Off. The show is a collaboration between Sims creator Electronic Arts, WarnerMedia’s subsidiary Turner Sports, and Buzzfeed’s gaming channel Multiplayer.
Why game-tainment is interesting
Gaming has been steadily growing in popularity and influence over the past few years, with far-reaching impact: it has spurred a new league of gamefluencers, informed luxury retail, served as an outlet for wanderlust and wellness, and even as a platform for activism. Now, with playership skyrocketing, big brand investments are elevating game-tainment to a prime-time attraction.
04 February 2021
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