Computer games have been in the mainstream for a while, even surpassing Hollywood in terms of revenue in recent years, but for me the biggest indicator of gaming success is that Disney has made a film containing many of the characters and tropes associated with the gaming world. This may sound like a nonsensical argument but let me explain. ‘Wreck It Ralph’ is the film and whilst I haven’t seen it yet, it is great to see a film which embraces what was initially a subculture. Back in the 80’s and 90’s when gaming was still a niche hobby it was unthinkable that there would be a big budget film from one of the most respected studios aimed at game fans but also the general public alike. Never did I imagine that characters from the games I was playing would be plastered across billboards across the world. In preparation for the release of Wreck It Ralph in the UK, Disney commissioned artist Aden Hynes to turn one of my favourite places in the world, Brick Lane, into 8 Bit Street. Gaming ‘cultural capital’ (these are non-financial social assets that promote social mobility beyond economic means e.g. education, intellect, style of speech, dress, and even physical appearance etc) has changed over time. This is in part due to the proliferation of new gamers due to mobile gaming, but also various other factors such as the increased accessibility to games (browser, downloadable and disc based), increased multimedia presence in this internet age and also due to the simple fact that the children who grew up in the gaming boom are now adults and are more aware of gaming. Games are now a part of popular culture and the biggest example for this I can give is that my dad recognises Mario, he doesn’t know the name but he knows that he is in a computer game character. Wreck It Ralph gives a nod and a wink to the geek in all of us.
In the vein of geekness, let’s test out your gaming ‘cultural capital’. Can you identify the characters and the games they come from in these Wreck It Ralph posters?