Sunday, January 30, 2011

Video Game Records

I get very different reactions when I tell people that I basically study video games for a living, ranging from extreme jealousy to complete disbelief, and sometimes even to offense.  Some people apparently do not believe this is a legitimate way to be spending my time or something for which you should be able to go to graduate school.

This means that I often have to justify or at least explain my interest and why I think what I do is worth it and worth being paid for.  I've got a couple brief one-line responses, like "If culture and social values aren't created in the media forms people use every day, where are they made?", but sometimes I need more ammunition for a longer fight.

Today, I got a little bit more to add to my arsenal (sort of) when I found a Wired article on video game-based records in the Guinness Book of World Records.  Some of these really only matter within the context of video games themselves, such as "Longest Survival on a 6-Star Wanted Level in Grand Theft Auto IV", but others speak to the wider implications of video games that I look into in my work.

For instance, did you know that Sid Meier's Civilization V had an officially recognized day?  According to the article, "Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley declared Sept. 21, 2010, "Sid Meier's Civilization V Day" to honor the game's release and celebrate the strength of the game-development industry in his state, which developer Firaxis calls home."  In my mind, this speaks volumes about the economic impacts of the game industry.

Another interesting record is "First Facebook Game to Cause a Lawsuit", which is held by the game Scrabulous, sued by Scrabble owners Mattel and Hasbro for copyright infringement.  Scrabulous lost, to no one's surprise, showing the ways traditional power structures and legal systems are being applied to the (relatively) new technology of video games.  

Apparently there's an entire Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition.  I'll have to check it out and see what they've got.  Hopefully they've improved upon the list of "Best Games" they released in their 2009 Gamer's Edition.  I love Mario Kart as much as the next person but best game ever?  I think not.

(Also, as a side note, I love that the #8 bullet in that last link turned into an emoticon. How very Internet-savvy.)

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