Gaming is arguably the most expansive wing of the entertainment industry. The money raked in by games like Call of Duty put blockbuster movies to shame. For instance, 2012's biggest movie, The Avengers, made roughly $207.4 million on its opening weekend. But Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 scored an impressive $500 million on its very first day.
Obviously, video games are incredibly popular, but that's not really the issue. The weird part is that very few gamers are actually paying attention to the people who are putting the effort into their favorite medium.
On Black Ops 2's launch night, Cheat Code Central's trusty editor Josh Wirtanen and I braved the cold weather to hang out with several the CoD superfans at the midnight release. We both live in Minnesota, so the operation took a fair amount of courage on our parts.
I decided to use opportunity to administer a pop quiz to some of the other gamers in line. I had just finished writing my Black Ops 2 review, so I was fairly well-versed in the franchise, feeling a little conceited in my expertise. But as I asked gamers to answer simple questions like "Can you name the Black Ops protagonist?" and "What was the deal with all of those numbers in Black Ops 1?" I found that very few people could actually answer the questions. They either hadn't been paying enough attention or they had skipped Black Ops’ single-player campaign altogether.
Remember, these are Call of Duty superfans. They braved the cold Minnesota weather in order to have the game twelve hours earlier than their less enthusiastic friends. And they can't even name the main character from the last game.
I hope David S. Goyer, the man behind the Black Ops script, doesn't ever read this article.
Actually, I guarantee that more people will recognize Goyer’s name from his work on the Batman films than for the Black Ops franchise, and that’s incredibly sad considering the numbers—and his talent level.
But let’s take it one step further. Can you name a single voice actor from any game that you've played within the last ten years?
I've heard that voice acting is significantly harder than screen acting, which means that we're getting the cream of the crop here. But we barely even notice. Michael Mando, the actor who played Vaas in Far Cry 3, deserves about ten Oscars for his performance, or the equivalent thereof, but the category barely exists within video game award shows.
Many actors use video games as a stepping stone into an actual acting career, not an end point, which is sad because video games are an art form that people can finally be proud of. Developers and writers are constantly stretching the boundaries of the medium and finding new ways to tell their stories.
I think it's about time that fans started paying attention to the people behind the curtain. As long as we keep ignoring the hard work and talent that’s being poured into these games, professional artists are going to continue to abandon the medium.
But paying attention requires a fair amount of effort, and I’m not exactly confident that gamers are up to the challenge. Though, I’d love to be proven wrong.
Date: December 21, 2012