A funny thing happened on the way to video games' dominance of visual narrative mediums. Yes, you may have noticed more and more film actors are appearing in video games. The Harry Potter cast is in indentured servitude to the franchise, and they have voiced their video game avatars since the beginning. The original Grand Theft Auto had Ray Liotta to voice the protagonist. Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Oldman have taken parts in the Call of Duty video games. Mickey Rourke, who looks like a video game avatar even in real life, will appear in a forthcoming first-person shooter called Rogue Warrior. If they ever make a video game out of Diner, no doubt he'll saunter up to a microphone for that, too.
A lazy BBC reporter cited somebody named Eliza Dushku--that her next film is called Wet is pretty much all you need to know about her--as an expert to claim that video games have finally moved beyond their rec room ghetto. "I know so many people - friends, actors, directors - who are older and used to maybe play in private, but who can now say it loud and proud." In other words, everyone on her text message list plays video games; therefore everyone in the world is playing them.
However, a New York Times reporter who made more than a couple of phone calls for his story on the current state of the video game industry discovered that video gaming remains little more than a time suck for people with restless thumbs--and closed wallets. The sale of video game hardware and software fell an astonishing 31% in June 2009 versus the previous June. The terrible economy isn't the only one to blame. Gamers are turning to free online sites and loading up their iPhones with cheap games. Nintendo is already complaining that the upcoming iPod Touch refresh will cut into its sales, not that anyone is listening.
An interactive How Green Was My Valley remains a tantalizing prospect, but for the foreseeable future, it seems, the fate of the video game industry will track closer to the PC industry than Hollywood.