Text by – GIUSEPPE ORIGO
Translation by – JULIA PERRY
When on October 14, 1888, Sir Louise Aimé Augustin Le Prince filmed Roundhay Garden Scene, the first short film imprinted on cinematographic film, we certainly would have never expected that those two seconds of motion picture would be the first glimpse of what, years later, became “The Seventh Art”, by critic Ricciotto Canudo in 1921, giving a name to a new artistic dimension.
Today, the film industry is a giant that has produced and distributed a countless amount of movies (estimates are inaccurate statistics but we are talking about some 6,500 films a year counting just “major film producing countries”) with a business rounding $35.9 billion per year, and a common key factor: Film is globally recognized as a form of art.
Of course, going from a two-second short film to a $35.9 billion yearly market, a lot of water has passed under the bridge and the opening of the doors to the Olympus of Arts and Cinema has labored a lot.
A “new” creative industry filled with undeniable success, both popular and commercial, has managed to keep its artistic form over time, and like all cultural phenomena of mass, has gone to shape the enjoyment of artistic production.
Here at Revolart we have always put a focus on art as a refined product of culture, culture being the same thing as humanity/creativity. And so, in a nutshell, it is the human creative development that led to the birth of the very first cinematographic film that then became culture and an art (a step belonging to isolated cases and not automatic).
Borderline, barely being recognized as a cultural dimension, although undoubtedly younger than Cinema, but certainly no longer an infant, is instead another form of the creative industry: videogames.
But first: although I’m a firm believer in the fact that it has become silly, stupid and bigoted to continue insisting on saying, idiotic victims of prejudice, that a video game cannot be considered an art form of its own, this brief article’s key aim is to offer a reflection of the incredible power of the cultural dimension born around this type of product.
League of Legends: 1,292,502,456
World of Warcraft: 622,378,909
Heroes of Newerth: 184,520,156
Diablo III: 172,907,605
Battlefield 3: 171,852,550
StarCraft II: 163,980,293
World of Tanks: 145,702,931
Call of Duty MW: 126,754,082
What you see listed above is an ordered ranking of the most played videogame titles ranked according to the total number of hours of play performed from July 2011 to June 2012 by users worldwide.
Of course, it could be related more to changes in the concept of “autism” rather than “Art” (but since I’m an avid player… NO).
League of Legends in particular, the one with 1 billion hours of game play yearly, is an interesting case, at least in terms of numbers and population power.
A few weeks ago, the last League of Legends world championship ended, with its final in Seoul, Korea, won by one of their many home teams, the Samsung White, after a tournament with 38 million viewers watching through streaming, during a match played in a stadium with 45 thousand seats, sold out.
A tournament with a 2 million dollar prize saw digital athletes (remember that many countries including the USA in 2009 have officially recognized video gaming as a “professional sport”) from 6 macro blocks: North America, Europe, Korea, China, Southeast Asia, and Russia.
League of Legends is an online video game with teams, developed by the American company, Riot Game, which has 32 million monthly active users (12 million every day) based on its basic gameplay (in which you can be joined by other online players, kill enemies, and so on), and digital interface (the “point and click” of the mouse and a very moderate handful of keyboard keys).
It is a mechanism as simple and as brilliant as its success, that compares data with those of other similar products, and it is perhaps precisely because of the simplicity of the game that gives the ability to create winning tactics by playing with digital peers. But, in my opinion, here’s the magic of it all: interfacing with unknown users from all over the world, creating social dynamics, although extremely formatted, and a stray away from the “social”.
The use of the user here is not the ubiquitous passivity of the supine digital dimension, but an interaction and activity in order to achieve a common goal, no matter how simple and stupid this may sound, but nonetheless still a common purpose that is not narcissistic like the foundation of our flawed social world.
Be careful though, as every dimension in question there is always a bright side and a dark side to it, at the risk of sounding obvious as much as rhetorical, it is always correct to highlight the real risk of “addiction” that every user is potentially subject to, along with its side effects: from the child, in March, left starving in South Korea due to a father absent because of too much online gaming, to the Taiwanese man, two years ago, who after 40 hours of consecutive playing of the game Diablo III, died in front of his computer monitor because of a lack of food and sleep…
As always, however, it’s not right to generalize.
League of Legends, like many sports, can be a vehicle for intercultural aggregation, demolishing all sorts of racial barriers due to the screen that acts as an intermediary, behind which everyone is simply a user, in a real digital common (with its flaws, sure, but also with its merits): every single man, though, after hitting the off button, is a real person with flesh and blood.
In the face of such size and power of a group and a market that is expected to reach $86.6 billion in 2016 (more than twice what the film industry is), it is reasonable at this point to question what this “new world” of creativity really is.
Many are the objections to it being valued at a culturally global level, but remember that these were precisely the same claims that were made when the Seventh Art came to be, which was mistreated but then quietly started to blossom into a powerful artistic statement as a collective: the road is still long, perhaps, for this “high” emancipatory form, but maybe all it takes is becoming aware of the facts surrounding it.