Impactful and influential video games can attain a cultural reach that is truly massive. Some inspire whole genres, others become essential touchstones that most gamers consider well worth at least watching, it not actually playing. Less well-documented, however, are those games that have had an impact not solely confined to the gaming industry.
While not unexpected, given just how many people play video games and the reach they have in pop culture, some people are nonetheless surprised when they affect non-gamers. Whether they influenced events surrounding real-life people, caused moral or even legal discussions, or had financial effects on other industries, some games have reached beyond the console and into the real world.
Musicians Held Concerts In Fortnite
Few video games have been as wide-reaching and notoriously popular as Fortnite, specifically its Battle Royale mode. Becoming one of the most widely-played games ever, as well as one of the most profitable, Fortnite invaded pop culture in a dozen different ways, from appearances in media to memes.
However, pop culture also reached into Fortnite. Most notably, several mainstream musicians have held concerts in the game. Featuring an avatar patterened after the musician performing in the game’s world while their music plays, the concerts garnered significant viewership in-game and were widely reported in the media.
Pokemon GO Caused A Flurry Of Safety Concerns
Pokémon is one of the most famous and enduringly-popular gaming franchises in the world. When it came to the incredibly-popular mobile market with Pokémon GO, it garnered an unprecedented amount of interest. Even many non-gamers were intrigued by the possibility of catching the creatures in real life, and the game became a smash hit.
With its unusual, real-world AR format, Pokémon GO sparked concerns. In the media and even in government, pundits became preoccupied with the notion of players wandering into private property or traffic in their quest to hunt Pokémon, and issued warnings. Only a handful of such incidents occurred, but the anticipation was notable.
Sonic The Hedgehog Overtook Social Media With His Initial Design
A popular gaming mascot from the 1990s, Sonic the Hedgehog retained enough interest as a character to spark a wide reaction when a trailer dropped for a Sonic the Hedgehog movie in 2019. However, the reaction was not delight or nostalgia, but horror at the unappealing design the film’s animators had given to the main character.
Disappointing aspects of game adaptations were nothing new, but this outrage stretched further. For several days, Sonic’s appearance was one of the predominant memes on every social media platform. This impact reached even further – with the studio entirely redoing Sonic’s model and creating a much more well-received look for the character.
Minecraft Entered The Classroom
One of the best-selling games of all time, Minecraft captured audiences from every walk of life. With its wide-open sandbox, nearly-unlimited creative potential, and wide variety of gameplay, the game became a pop-culture sensation known across the world
Ultimately, Minecraft left the confines of gaming and strove to become a learning tool. Minecraft: Education Edition hoped to use the unique resources available in the game to enhance teaching alongside the other tools at a teacher’s disposal. While not revolutionizing education, it has seen some use due to its approachability for both students and teachers.
Injustice Spawned A Popular DC Comic Book
The fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us took place in an alternate version of the DC Universe where Superman turned to evil and established himself as a tyrant over the world. While not a new concept, fans enjoyed the game’s story for showing a different side to many beloved characters. This story was furthered in a comic book tie-in.
Although its first issues were released before the game, the Injustice comic book was based on the game’s concepts and designed to accompany the game as a prequel. Although never threatening to eclipse the mainstream DC universe, the comic was popular and ran for three years, to positive reviews.
Epidemiologists Studied A World Of Warcraft Glitch
One of the most notorious episodes in World of Warcraft history was the “Corrupted Blood Incident.” A lethal and infectious status effect managed to escape a boss arena due to an oversight and ran rampant through the player base. Devs struggled to fix the problem, and for several days the game was overtaken by the incident, with players describing in-game cities as full of corpses.
Ultimately, the Corrupted Blood Incident necessitated a rollback of the game to undo the effects and bring things under control. Although it was a pandemic ultimately confined solely to a video game, the incident saw genuine interest from epidemiologists, who wanted to study the way human players had responded to the event – both benevolently and maliciously.
Street Fighter Gave Raul Julia One Final Beloved Role
Many video games have seen film adaptations, most of them unsuccessful and mediocre at best. One such example that could have been as equally forgettable had it not been for one actor was 1994’s Street Fighter. Veteran actor Raul Julia joined the cast as its villain, General M. Bison, and delivered a performance that even the film’s harshest critics showered with praise.
This still might not have had much of an impact outside of the games industry, were it not for the fact that it was Julia’s final role. Terminally ill during filming, he died shortly before Street Fighter’s release. Already a well-respected actor, Street Fighter gave Julia one of his most iconic and beloved film roles, which is still one of his best-remembered to this day.
Manhunt Sparked Outcry From Public Figures
Video games have always been viewed with suspicion by the media for their violent content, despite the existence of many games that don’t feature killing at all. Few were more controversial for their level of graphic violence than the game Manhunt.
A game where the player controls a convict made to fight others in snuff films, Manhunter was unusually brutal for its time and some saw it as glorifying violence. Several government ministers and other public figures made the news by criticizing Manhunt,and laws were even put in place against it – particularly after it was falsely linked with a murder in the United Kingdom.
Halo 3’s Release Harmed Cinema Box Office Sales
The Halo franchise was one of the most popular of the 2000s, with each of its games being acclaimed and widely played. The final game in its original trilogy, Halo 3 was majorly-anticipated, with gamers eager to see the story’s conclusion. When it was released, it had an unexpected side effect – cinema box office sales slumped.
The weekend of Halo 3‘s release, box offices across America were down 27% compared to the same time the year before, without many other exceptional circumstances. As such, Halo 3 holds the honor of occupying so much of gamers’ time that it actually damaged another entertainment industry.
Battlefront II Made Several Countries Review Their Gambling Laws
Microtransactions have long been controversial in video games, but the release of Star Wars Battlefront II in 2017 saw them become a hotly-debated societal topic. The microtransaction-heavy nature of the game gated crucial content like Darth Vader behind lootboxes and fostered a “pay to win” atmosphere. This caused many to call out the game as little more than a Star Wars-themed casino.
Due to the popular nature of Star Wars, this caused many people to pay attention. Although EA later changed the game’s monetization system, the outcry saw several governments, including that of Belgium, undertake a review of their gambling laws to see that minors were adequately protected from predatory microtransactions.