It may be a uniquely British perspective, given the prevalence of broadcast media (I.e. book publishing, music, theatre, radio and television) here, but it is pretty common to encounter the belief that broadcast and games are destined to come together. In particular the idea that games will grow up, that they will mature much as other media have and so get to sit at the adult's table, is highly resilient.
I think this is entirely the wrong way to look at their relationship. For me, the future of broadcast is to report on what happens in games and realise that games are powerful generators of the narratives that they so desperately need.
Prior to Christmas I attended two events on the subject of games and media coming together. The first was in Manchester at the BBC Fusion Summit. Here I was on a panel discussing the subject of how broadcast and games may or may not converge:
And also (in particular around 28m mark):
The second event was an Evolve London where I gave a pre-conference talk on the relationship between games and broadcast. In the talk I characterised the relationship as largely a one-way street, and argued that game makers need to realise that their medium does not need to be a part of an institution to be considered relevant. It is already a cultural generator, but broadcast-land doesn't seem to realise this:
The culture and maturation of games has largely bypassed television entirely. Regardless of what you think of it, few are the culture shows that discuss the merits of The Walking Dead, whereas gaming-specific media like the Giant Bombcast are breathless in their analysis and critique. When a few games are brought to MOMA even as design artefacts, twerpy arguments about their status as art still tend to arise, but within the game space there are dozens of examples in this year alone of games that are definitely artistic product.
For TV, what's missing is the human factor.
As I reflect on this division more, I find myself thinking about sports. Sports coverage accounts for 20-40% of news on any given day. Meanwhile digital games construct whole worlds and cultures that thrive perfectly well on their own merits, but are largely absent from the news. Sportsmen and women become legends because cameras are pointed at them and so the shot gets heard around the world, but other kinds of gamer (and a sportsperson is just a type of gamer) are nowhere to be seen.
Serious writers like Norman Mailer and Don DeLilo have dramatised some specific outcomes of sports, or used them as a totem to tell a larger story. Those narratives have then become a part of the collective cultural memory. In the UK we've seen something similar this year with the Olympics, with the stories of Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Usain Bolt. And a few sports personalities like Muhammad Ali go on to become living gods in the minds of many.
What Mailer did for The Fight and Stephenson attempts to do with Reamde are indicators of how games and media can work together. The more we buy into the notion that games are an immature medium, the more we become distracted from our ability to do what we do well: provide thaumatic play that sometimes spawns legends. We already have the means of expressing those moments (such as through Youtube), but we have yet to give our gamers' faces.
Perhaps when games get better at lionizing their players, with more than just the amusement factor of a Leeroy Jenkins, then broadcasters will understand them. Then, finally, they will be on equal footing in a relationship that is productive for all.