We’re in that final push of the year. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is launching today as a coda to an incredible year in games. We want to celebrate it with you and we can’t think of a better time to do our next GamesBeat event under the theme Pixels to Pop Culture than December 7, the day of The Game Awards. Or, as many people believe, the day that we’re going to see the first trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI.
We’ve seen our share of tough news this year with raging wars and mean geopolitics. We have seen our community harmed by layoffs in the game industry, and related troubles with the long actors strike and writers strike that are finally coming to a close. We’re not out of the woods yet by any means. But before the year is over, I think we should recognize what a phenomenal year we’ve had.
We’re a small independent media company that has its own struggles. We’re grateful our community rallied behind us, with 555 showing up at GamesBeat Next in October. And now we hope we can keep that momentum going with our next event, GamesBeat at The Game Awards. You can sign up here and use this code GBGA23DEAN100 for $100 off the ticket price.
First, I have to point out we’re not affiliated with The Game Awards. Geoff Keighley’s thing will likely draw more than 100 million viewers to a total celebration of gaming. We’ll be happy if we can get 250 people to fill the lovely Clive Davis Theater at The Grammy Museum at LA Live. You can think of us as the unofficial preshow for the official preshow. We’ll have a fine party the night before on December 6 and an intimate event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or so on December 7. It’s going to be a small group.
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We’re like the ant next to the elephant. The thing about our events is that we strive to get the right people in front of you, and we’re working hard to make that happen. We still have room for sponsors and I am still recruiting speakers. Our theme is a familiar one, but it feels like it is happening on a grand scale. It’s so grand, in fact, that it’s easy to overlook.
Pixels to Pop Culture
Our theme is Pixels to Pop Culture, and that is a recognition that gaming culture has become mass culture. Once the domain of nerds, it’s is now part of the mass market. We see signs of that everywhere. This year, we saw gaming rise even higher with The Last of Us on HBO and The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which generated $1.36 billion and was viewed by 169.84 million people.
And now Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo and Avi Arad, maker of many Marvel and game films, are teaming up to make The Legend of Zelda live-action movie. Don’t be surprised if you see someone from the Arad family show up at our event. Our fingers are crossed for that. Our event will take advantage of the blending of games and Hollywood, and the academic chops of Los Angeles, the heart of entertainment.
It was amazing to see a great movie, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse, come to streaming at the same time frame that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 landed on the PlayStation 5 (already selling five million copies). These events are elevating games from a subculture to a mass culture, and we’re wondering how it can get even bigger. Entertainment intellectual properties are like hub and spoke systems, says Russell Binder, one of our speakers and founding partner of Striker Entertainment, a longtime Hollywood agency.
The hub is the world created by amazing artists, and the spokes are media like games, movies, TV, toys, comics, tabletop games and more. When it works well, we get awesome transmedia experiences like Mattel’s Barbie.
Striker’s clients include AMC, ScottGames, WonderStorm, Media Rights Capital, Ghost House, Alcon Entertainment, Dread XP, Squanch Games, and Mythical Games amongst others. Properties, both previously and currently represented, include: The Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games, The Walking Dead, Pacific Rim, Five Nights at Freddy’s, Kick Ass, TED, Terminator Salvation, The Umbrella Academy, and many others. Striker has built on behalf of its clients $4 billion retail programs for The Twilight Saga, The Walking Dead, Angry Birds and Five Nights at Freddy’s.
Binder will be one of our speakers alongside Peter Levin, managing director of Griffin Gaming Partners, and they can speak to the behind-the-scenes work that happens to bring together big entertainment deals.
Griffin Gaming Partners is one of the biggest venture capital funds singularly focused on the video game sector. Prior to Griffin, Levin served as president of interactive ventures, games & digital strategy at Lionsgate where he stood up their gaming business. He also ran Nerdist Industries, which was acquired by Legendary Entertainment in 2012. Levin was an early investor in and advisor to Rovio (Angry Birds) and helped put in place their wildly successful global licensing and merchandising program.
As gaming grows from a subculture to a mass culture, we want it to take its best elements like diversity and rise up while leaving behind negative elements like toxicity and lack of accessibility. How does that happen? How do you get the right focus and the right creativity so that you can craft something that attracts massive audiences? The movies are a clue for us. What can a horror movie director teach us about the crossover and inspiration for horror games?
At the same time, Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two Interactive — which owns the Rockstar Games label that is making the next Grand Theft Auto game — points out that games is such a better business than movies or TV because it keeps young people in particular engaged and passionate for so much longer.
We know that some countries and cultures and governments haven’t fully embraced games yet. We want to be respectful and develop content that is right for those parts of the world. Yet we know that games are borderless and infectious and they cannot be contained. Games find a way.
I’ve watched this industry grow and I have covered it for 27 years on a daily or weekly basis, and I’ve covered tech for 34 years. Now I’m more excited than ever to see gaming’s intersections with culture and gaming’s intersections with technology that will help it grow bigger and better. Come celebrate it with us on December 7. I’ve dropped some hints in this story about who are speakers are and we’ll announce more in the coming days. I believe you won’t be disappointed.
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