You Think This is a Game? Variety500 Sees Video Game Execs as Entertainment Leaders
Video games have become more than just a casual pastime, they're a cultural force. Variety magazine’s new “Variety 500” list is just more proof
There’s a reason why box office gross, viewership data, or number of downloads no longer truly define something as a “hit.” When the things we watch and play start to influence our culture – the way we speak, the way we celebrate, and the way we gather – that’s when you know you are more than just casual entertainment.
Video games are now our collective language. They are defining culture by being the creative force behind everything from movies to fashion to, well, memes (our new collective shorthand).
One of the world’s most celebrated directors who has been defining pop culture for nearly four decades, Steven Spielberg, has had a lifelong love affair with video games.
Meanwhile, Vogue is talking about gaming as style muse, and the Call of Duty team is already investing in the next generation of high fashion talent.
This is why the Variety 500 - an annual list of power movers and shot callers in the entertainment industry – now has more than 30 representatives from the game industry present and accounted for. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who has shepherded the company through three decades of growth and evolution, is among those shaping our cultural language through entertainment.
Following a record-setting year for the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty Senior Vice President and General Manager Johanna Faries joins Kotick on the list. Not only did the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II become the biggest entertainment opening of 2022 ($1 billion in just 10 days), but Faries herself was named “Executive of the Year” by the LA Business Journal, the first time ever someone from the gaming industry has held that honor.
During the height of the pandemic, the easy headline was that gaming grew in popularity as people were shut in. But the truth is that the past few years have coincided with gaming realizing its full potential as a cultural touchstone — part social media platform, part performance space, part marketplace, and part creative outlet — all while still delivering on the fun side. More than half the country plays and they are all reaping the benefits — from reduced stress to less boring commutes. It’s how we live now. There’s a reason these worlds are being described in terms like “social ecosystems” and not just “games.”
Speaking with CEOWorld earlier this year, Kotick was clear about what lay ahead. “What you’re seeing is people have headsets and microphones and video, and they are playing games against people around the world and competing against each other across the globe,” he said. “So it isn’t just a traditional form of gaming; it’s now even more of a social experience.”
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