Technology is changing every aspect of our daily lives, but there are three technologies that people seem to be the most interested in, videogames, apps, and movies (yes movies can count as technology, at least that’s what I’m sticking to as it’s my article and I don’t care what you think). There are some problems trying to decide which of these three is the biggest, because A: we have to decide how we decide something like that and B: there is some crossover, for example Netflix shows movies, however is also an app; there are also apps that are videogames like Angry Birds. I’m going to give it a go, anyway.
Like all good experiments, I need to decide my parameters of how I’m going to tackle this topic. The way I see it, there are certain ways to evaluate the success of these three things: Number of people engaging with them; the passion of the people engaging with them; the profit margins inherent with them; and lastly, how much tech is actually involved in their creation and use. This question is also made more difficult by the fact that movies and videogames are considered art and so that needs to be reflected within the discussion. This isn’t going to be easy and you might not find all the answers you’re hoping for.
Number of People
I’m setting up your expectations early with this first point as I have no idea how many people engage with movies, videogames, and apps, but it’s my article and so I don’t really care. Let’s start with some educated guessing, though. Pretty much every person on the planet has watched a movie in their life (at least in the Western World, and let’s be honest that’s who we’re talking about here). There are still many people in the world who have never played a videogame due to the relative infancy of the medium, however apps are even younger and anyone with a smartphone has engaged with an app on some level, so this point doesn’t really help us.
Passion of the People
This is a more telling indicator of who is winning the war, because although more people have engaged with apps and movies, the people who engage with videogames become so enraged by small details that they literally spend 73 hours straight on an internet chat room arguing about consoles and … stuff. Have you ever found anyone who is passionate about apps? No. However, it should be noted that with the rise of the superhero genre (with a very similar fan base to gamers) and the disgustingly poor films that DC are putting out, there is very passionate discussion on movies happening every day. There are a lot of scared DC fans out there believing Marvel have finally won the comic war, however that’s an article for another day.
Again, this is hard one to gauge. Videogames are currently the biggest media industry in the world with Grand Theft Auto 5 being the most profitable media product of all time, beating out any film, album, or app; however GTA5 cost around £40-£50 when it was released and apps cost around 69p or nothing at all. There are quite a lot of variables, plus on average, I would say that films make more money than videogames due to sheer numbers, however when a videogame does reach the heights of GTA5 or Minecraft, they usually outstrip any blockbuster. Then there is the consideration that apps continue to make money due to the nature of micro transactions on games like Candy Crush, that I think were popularised by online bingo sites and other desktop gaming originators.
Here’s an interesting discussion on the topic that proves no one has any clue which is bigger.
This one is a bit easier to quantify. App design is fairly basic, which is evidenced by the sheer number of independent companies, however it’s also easy to pick up a film camera or code a game so let’s ignore the easy ones and focus on the technological marvels. Films are still fairly behind the times with the only innovations coming from 3D and CGI with films like Avatar, Life of Pi, and Gravity and none of them were fantastic (apart from Pi of course), but then here isn’t really a market as people still love the idea of classic cinema. Then there are apps like Pokémon Go (which you could argue is a videogame, but we will leave it in the app territory) which utilises GPS and AR for a truly innovative playing experience. But, we finally fall to videogames which are still able to baffle me with the technical innovativeness of them, from the new No Man’s Sky with its procedurally generated (basically trillions of randomly, completely explorable planets) to VR technologies that enableyou to actually immerse yourself inside your favourite games with the help of a simple headset. Videogames offer the most exciting technological innovations in my opinion, so does that mean they are winning the war? Pretty much. They are the future of story.
I think it’s fair to say that in terms of technology, videogames are the most exciting. They are finally being considered real artistic achievements; they are capturing the imaginations of millions, and they are innovating in ways that was only thought possible in the wildest imaginations of 1980’s sci-fi nerds. Trying to figure out which medium is actually ‘the best’ in broader terms is too complicated an endeavour (although it’s definitely not apps) as there are too many variables and cross overs so let’s just agree that nothing beats a novel and leave it at that.