“‘Gamers Get Game’ … you know, there’s actually a lot of cross-over between hip hop cultures and gamer cultures,” I explained.
This was a common occurrence over the past few weeks in trying to put this issue together. I got several “Um, I don’t really know anything about hip hop,” and, “I don’t see it.”
So, let me explain.
Some trace the actual beginning back to the 1970s. As many movements do, it began in basements and schoolyards of young people looking for a new outlet. This was a chance for these people to make a mark on society, to express ideas in an entertaining and meaningful way. There were different parts to the equation – those who wrote the words, those who had the skill for presentation and those with the technical mastery to capture it all so it could be shared with others.
Over time, the movement spread. Copies of the creations were made and distributed to friends, who then caught onto the movement. Some of these made their own, some just enjoyed the products, looking for more.
To outsiders, it looked just like another fad produced by the youth, but it was more than that. A culture began to grow up around this movement. It developed its own set of slang and one could pick out enthusiasts by their clothes. But it was not only surface level. It had become a full-fledged social segment of the population, addressing political concerns, providing social commentary, and other times simply bringing entertainment to those who enjoyed it.
Of course, whenever a movement catches the mood of an entire segment of the population, the large budget companies will follow. The double-edged sword of large companies pushed the movement into the public eye, garnering media attention and retail distribution. But at the same time, this explosion onto the main stage took away some of the personal edge that made the movement important, with the hardcore feeling left behind.
I could be talking about hardcore gamers or hardcore rap, it really doesn’t matter. Yes, to look at each from the outside, games and hip hop appear to be quite different. But, with histories and foundations so similar, can the present day of each movement really be so different?
This possible similarity, and the seeming convergence of the two, is what we set out to explore with this week’s issue of The Escapist. Pat Miller speaks with the members of Superior Tek, a rap group whose members found each other through gaming. Feature author Thomas Wilburn looks at the lack of cultural diversity in gaming, both in the development studios and the games themselves, and some things being done to change this imbalance. Find these articles and more in this week’s issue of The Escapist.