Videogames in other Media Ep. 1

Recently, I’ve been watching the first four Episodes of the new TV Series “The Mentalist”. It is a series about a guy who was once a mentalist but due to a personal tragedy, decided to quit his profession and use his skills to help the police solve crimes. The cool thing is that the series is realistic so the guy doesn’t really have special powers. Instead, he uses some his charisma and his excellent observation skills to trick people. I like the series very much. It is smart, sometimes funny, very intriguing and refreshing. Kinda like my favourite House M.D. but the lead doesn’t quite compete with Hugh Laurie. Then again, who does?

Videogames in other Media Ep. 1

Anyway, what bothers me is how games are portrayed in other media. So although The Mentalist is a good series there is this one scene where some kid is playing a videogame and it is clearly an old GameBoy. What the…?! Is this supposed to be a historical piece?

My guess is that the script called for a generic gaming device and they didn’t want to use a contemporary one because the didn’t get a product placement deal. Or they didn’t want one. Or they didn’t care to get one.

I find this quite disappointing because I think it shows how games are underestimated by other media. They aren’t seen as something with subtle meaning. They aren’t seen as something which can be used to flesh out some details in a character. Instead, the whole medium is put into a huge drawer with labels like “childish”, “silly”, “immature” and “waste of time” on it. So it doesn’t matter WHAT the kid is playing, it wasn’t the point in the first place. That’s why it doesn’t matter if he is playing an unrealistically ancient system. You know, if one of the characters would be reading a book or watching a movie, they would certainly make sure the title or at least the genre is matching the character or the plot.

I would like to start collecting some examples of how videogames are treated in other media. I already have some scenes in mind (House M.D. has some nice ones) but if you know a good example, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

P.S.: Speaking of product placement – I have set up a “Currently Playing” column at the right. It will show the games we are currently playing. Yes, those affiliate links. However, I find this kind of Ads rather helpful because it is relevant to the blog’s content. Tell me if you find the Ads unbearable.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

3 responses to “Videogames in other Media Ep. 1”

  1. Yu-Chung Chen

    Not quite what you intended with your post but this kinda fit to your post title:

    Just now, on the TV (after the movie Sneakers finished), the German network “Vox” used a track from Kingdom Hearts, Destati, for the program hint that they’ll show Independence Day next week or something.

    Err.. Kingdom Hearts soundtrack? Usually they use Hans Zimmer tracks, Fight Club music or whatever popular for trailers, but this is really weird. Does this mean that the gaming generation has arrived in the working generation? VG sound is starting to slowly seep into mainstream and become part of its landscape?

  2. Yu-Chung Chen

    This is the version from the game

    the last one was from the composer’s compilation, apparently.

  3. Gamers have an Image Problem « The one and only Fruzsina Eördögh

    [...] say only kids play video games so she wouldn’t choose that category. Normally when I see someone playing a video game on a TV show the actor is button-mashing or “jumping up and down and flailing their arms [...]


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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