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Gaming Goes Mainstream

Garrett Fuller Posted:
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Wizard 101 has an interesting story in the MMO world. It was considered a kid’s game that had enough intensity and storyline for hardcore players. It came from an independent company that not many people had heard of, in other words it did not have Turner, Disney, or Nickelodeon attached to the title. It came from the team who made Shadowbane, one of the most hardcore PvP MMOs ever created. It also remains on top of the heap of kid friendly MMOs and continues to drive development in reaching out and providing fun family entertainment while still appealing to hardcore players. It is also very successful and continues to do well in the market. Now they are taking things one step further. They have partnered with Selena Gomez for a promotion and in game quest which will bring some pop culture fun to an already wild success story.

If you do not know Selena Gomez, she is a teen sensation from the show Wizards of Waverly Place. Having a hit show and now an upcoming album she is really an icon to tween culture. Okay, now listen before you start to throw stones and scream that the MMO world is being invaded by a tween princess, let me tell you a very clear story about how far gaming has come and what this means to the world of video games.

In 1981 Dungeons and Dragons was sweeping the nation with millions of players. College campuses hosted game nights, groups sprang up everywhere and gamers played endless hours of adventure. At the same time this was happening, mainstream culture was quick to damn gamers as nerds and Dungeons & Dragons as the devil’s game. Church groups cried out, gamers were stuffed in lockers and movies like Mazes and Monsters, starring Tom Hanks no less, painted gamers as dark social misfits who could not function between their fantasy worlds and reality.

Fast forward almost thirty years later and we have seen the rise of the video game come to epic heights. RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons set the groundwork for thousands of games that are created today. But in an even larger phenomenon, these games have now become part of our mainstream culture. If a teenage actress in the 1980s like say, Demi Moore, yes we know she is old now, however, if she came out and endorsed a game like Dungeons & Dragons it would likely have ruined her career. Her agents would run screaming and her fans would question what she was thinking and write her off as a social misfit.

It is 2010 and times have changed, drastically. Now with Selena Gomez teaming up in Wizard 101 we have seen the rise of gaming enter into the mainstream. She and her agents obviously view the promotion with Wizard 101 as a great career move. The independent kid’s game which has won its popularity over millions of players now combines with a major name in pop culture. A game created by the PvP death squad Shadowbane team that appeals to kids and gamers alike is signing with a teen icon for a fun promotional quest in the game. Take a moment and think about this type of event. No one could have seen this coming.

In the game itself, Selena is captured by the King of the Crabs in Celestia. He wants to make Selena his queen and keep her as part of the crab court. You and your fellow wizards must go in and rescue Selena so she can go back to her normal life here in our earthly realm. The fun quest offers players a lot of new skills and gives them pathways to new abilities. There is also an underwater theme to the series which will bring in shark mounts for players. How can you go wrong with shark mounts?

For some gamers, they may be upset by someone like Selena Gomez joining up in their sacred gaming universe. However, they are missing the point of how far games have truly come and what is now happening in pop culture today. With more and more mainstream movies and books following superheroes, fantasy, or science fiction, it really is becoming acceptable within culture. The once frowned upon social misfits who rolled funny dice in the library have really become a large audience and create games that an entire generation is now playing. Pointy hats off to Wizard 101 for helping to build this relationship.


Garrett Fuller

Garrett Fuller / Garrett Fuller has been playing MMOs since 1997 and writing about them since 2005. He joined MMORPG.com has a volunteer writer and now handles Industry Relations for the website. He has been gaming since 1979 when his cousin showed him a copy of Dungeons and Dragons. When not spending time with his family, Garrett also Larps and plays Airsoft in his spare time.