7 Ways Video Games Almost Changed The World, But Didn’t

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It’s tough to quantify “almost.” We like black and white interactions — either something happens or it doesn’t. “Second place is the first loser,” No Fear shirts read when I was a kid. “Do or do not, there is no try,” Yoda probably said when you were a kid. And yet, video gaming definitely had some major “almosts.”

As part of our Gaming Edition, NMR tracked down some of these major moments in time that demonstrate how video games ALMOST changed the world … but didn’t. This being said, I think we can easily point to things like the meaningless award systems social media platforms integrate to reward users as just one of the ways video games have changed the world. But that’s a whole different list.

7. Foreign Relations Could Have Been Very Different

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“Thousands from foreign countries have told me that they learned English because of our games,” Al Lowe, Creator of Leisure Suit Larry said in an interview to CNN. Yup, a video game in which a voyeuristic hedonist nerd is out to get laid through any means possible, was the jumping off point for thousands of foreigners to learn English. While it makes sense now that other cultures have the view of us they do, can you imagine what our diplomatic relations would be like if some influential foreigners had picked up Leisure Suit Larry’s habits as well?

6. Pong Was A TV Show … Briefly

Imagine if a Pong television show would have been a hit … all sorts of television shows would have been created. Television would have been a very different landscape. As the fantastic Vimeo documentary, How Video Games Changed the World mentions (5 minute mark), there was a voice-operated live-action pong show. And it was horrible. Fortunately it failed, video games went back to being video games and all was well … until:

5. Super Mario Bros. Could Have Been Catalyst For Video Game Movie Frenzy

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1993 was supposed to kick off a blast of video game movies, starting with the release of Super Mario Bros. But as IMDB states, “After the film bombed at the Box Office. Nintendo never produced any more live-action theatrical films based on their video game franchises.” Gone was the Legend of Zelda movie, gone was the Metroid movie and probably for the best, gone was the Duck Hunt movie. Other video game movies came out in the years that followed: Street Fighter (1994), Mortal Kombat (1995), Tomb Raider (2001). But as a result of Super Mario Bros. failure, there was never an explosion of video game movies like there is currently one for comic book movies.

4. Violent Video Games ALMOST Get The Blame For School Shootings

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The shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO were perpetrated by two Goth kids who loved violent video games, movies and heavy metal. In the aftermath of the shooting, advocacy groups looked to video games especially, as a cause for the deaths. Campaigns were created to censor violent video games like Doom and Duke Nuke’em as there was a fear that games like these would promote a rash of school shootings. Ultimately cooler heads prevailed and it was pointed out that school shootings dated back to the 1760s — well before video games could be blamed.

3. Gaming Almost Influences Education

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A New York City public school was reengineered in 2009 to integrate video game techniques into its learning system. According to Google Think Quarterly, the “curriculum design mimics the design principles of games by framing every piece of the curriculum as a mission that involves game strategies like collaboration, role-playing and simulation.” It could have been a revelation in education — if it worked. While the project is still ongoing, it has already reached its full scope of being a combined middle and high school this year. And since you’re only hearing about it now, it’s pretty safe to say that it hasn’t yielded any staggering results in enhancing kids’ ability to learn. Of course we’ll have to see what happens when they all graduate — hopefully beating Tetris isn’t on the final exam.

2. Video Games Almost Killed Pop Music

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Video games were in a downward cycle until 1978, when Space Invaders hit the scene. It was the beginning of the Golden Age of Arcade Video Games. Conversely, pop music had been riding high with record profits. And then once Space Invaders reinvigorated the love of gaming, record label revenues “declined by $400 million between 1978 and 1981 (from $4.1 billion to $3.7 billion), a decrease that was directly credited to the rise of arcade games at the time (Wikipedia).”

1. Video Games Almost Allowed Kids To Be Healthy

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According to RaiseSmartKid.com, “Video games that require your kid to be active, such as Dance Dance Revolution and Nintendo Wii Boxing give your kid a good workout. When playing these active games for 10 minutes, your kid spends energy equal to or exceeding that produced by spending the same amount of time on a three miles an hour treadmill walk.” And though Wii and DDR were all the rage a few years ago, they aren’t popular anymore. Now kids are back to stuffing their faces and playing the latest CoD. Damn, we almost could have been a non-obese nation.