Video games. The old stigma of sitting around in your parents' basement, snacking on endless trays of mozzarella sticks. For those moving stubbornly into adulthood, maybe that’s supplemented by some choice herb. But it’s an activity that’s you and the television screen. You and the virtual, for hours and hours on end. That lack of sunlight is finally getting noticeable, a grayish twinge now lining your skin just to complete the stereotype. A gamer, in the game cave.
This may have been the scene in 2003, when stigmas of the virtual world (read: myspace) didn’t necessarily coincide what newspapers and magazines (read: not blogs) would consider worthy material. Not that the tidal waves of technology weren’t already upon us--if you recall, this was the time of the iPod, and we were already a few years deep into Microsoft’s foray into video games. But it’s safe to say that the decade that’s followed has brought about an explosion unlike any other. And with that, the gaming world is FAR from being predicated antisocial doom and gloom--it’s actually one that’s decidedly social.
Take the experiences of Chris Erb, VP of Brand Marketing at EA Sports, who spent five years running a certain Madden NFL franchise. Being around gaming and seeing its evolution, Erb puts it rather succinctly. “Gaming has just become mainstream,” he says, “And it takes a long time. You look at a Barry Sanders, he doesn’t game much, but if you put a Sean Alexander on the cover like we did in ‘07, he grew up playing these games. And it’s a big deal to those guys. It’s an evolution...your grandparents grew up on radio, parents grew up on TV, and you grew up on video games. It’s been long enough that this culture is...I game, and I have kids now.”
Of course, one of the reasons for gaming becoming mainstream is its coexistence with personalized technological devices, which have also recently "gone mainstream."
“Five years ago, when this is starting to become big, I’m in Orlando and my Dads in Seattle, we can play each other. But now, with smartphones and tablets, we can play right here. So it’s expediting the process. We’ve got instant connectivity, seeing our industry grow.”
But perhaps more importantly, it’s taking the strictly virtual out of gaming. In other words, looking at gaming from a lifestyle perspective.
Some straight gaming at the Monster's Tent at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Recognize the dude on the left?
“How could we kind of actively connect through sports? How do we create a space, where you come in, drink beer, soft couches, great TVs--the Lakers game is on...but maybe you want to play FIFA...so a place where you can make your own choice. There’s a hostess, here’s a menu of what’s on TV, here’s a vignette of games. You pick. That authentic experience.”
Erb, essentially, is describing the most tricked out man-cave on the planet. One that also happens to be called “EA Sports Bar,” located at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. The bar, first of its kind, opened just last year, and has made great strides in bringing the EA gaming experience to life--and the model has been so successful, that it’s moved onto several Carnival Cruise ships.
“Instead of watching and building community, how do you get active? How do you make it active rather than passive?
Scenes from the EA Sports Bar a the Cosmopolitan
Taking these evolutionary principles into account--having the quality of experience mesh with the always progressing technology--Erb and EA bring the gaming world a new innovation. Partnering with Monster Cable (the dudes behind the wildly popular “Beats by Dre” line), the companies are excited to premiere the EA Sports MVP Carbon Headphones by Monster, the first-ever collab between a game developer and a headphone. Debuted at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, the MVP line will be available worldwide in February. As Erb discussed, the intent here is to further bring gaming into the mainstream--making playing FIFA or NHL just as much a part of you as any other hobby, and creating something that reflects that in a seamlessly “cool” way.
“We haven’t seen gaming/lifestyle headset that plays both roles. Monster makes amazing headphones for audio, but none for gaming. And we game. How do we make this headset great for both...being able to game, but then unplug, plug in the iPhone, and continue to roll. Just continue that experience wherever.”
NFL Great Barry Sanders, Rockin' the MVP Carbons.
The MVP Carbons feature a number of rather dope never-before-seen fusions, and include Monster’s proprietary high definition headphone surround (HDHS) technology, making for one of the more complete and real-feel gaming experiences around. Mobile, versatile, and stylish, it is this product that encapsulates the exciting new heights that gaming (particularly sports-based gaming) has reached--a Bro activity that’s just as important--and socially relevant--as any.
This Is Part One of a Two Part Series About Monster Headphones and the Consumer Electronics Show. Part Two, Dealing with the Fusion of Technology and Style, Will Appear Thursday.