It is clear that gaming culture is heavily influenced by the world we live in. Developers use it to express our desires, our fears and our hopes for the future. Art forms are created within these games, to beautifully express certain time periods and explore the cultural ideas and norms of the period (and to extrapolate into the future).
One movement that has really stuck out to me is the Art Deco 1920’s-50’s movement within gaming. I know that sounds like a bunch of waffle to most people, but hear me out, it makes sense.
There is no doubt that the great cultural movements due to WW2 and the Cold War had massive impacts on everyone. Western culture had changed rapidly, and America was now heralded as a producer of quality design and manufacturing. The economy was booming, and people were feeling great after having avoided a nuclear holocaust.
This was such a glorious era in human history, and has been romanticized into the 21st century, moving on from just movies and TV shows, into gaming. Just as gaming has reflected modern cultural reforms, it also reflects our cultural relics, and does so rather beautifully.
I guess the main example everyone jumps to is Fallout. From a gaming point of view, it is a magnificent game, but with the extra layer of preserved culture extrapolated into the future makes it a masterpiece. Every aspect of life is explored, from the people who survived outside the vaults, to the continuation of our species after a horrible nuclear war, and of course, the left over remnants of the world left behind. All this accumulated to a gaming experience perfectly suited to really give us a feeling as to what would have occurred had we decided to go and kill everyone, and that is not only interesting from a historical stand point, but chilling.
Moving onto other games with more accurate historical merit, we find a treasure trove of wonderfully historically set games, such as Mafia II and L.A Noire. While not actually based on true stories, they provide a wonderful snapshot into a period of history we usually can only see through sepia photographs and deteriorating newspapers. Bringing to life our rich history through the eyes of the underdog allows us to break through the romantisisation of this era, while also keeping the beauty of it intact.
Lastly, I look to games such as Bioshock and XCOM, who both employ Art Deco styling in their game design and culture, but offer a sci-fi view of the world that they are based in. This imaginative look at the different applications of these cultural stylings allows us to continue the Art Deco movement through into the 21st century, allowing it to stay relivent to modern culture and future generations. While these games do modify these designs, it still allows the underlying historical tones to continue into our cultural conscious.