Image courtesy of EA and Respawn Entertainment

As a millennial, I’m not very tuned into the Oscars. To me, they’re a product of a bygone time. But it caught me off guard when I started seeing on Twitter that EA and Respawn Entertainment had taken home an Oscar at the 93rd Academy Awards. EA and Respawn certainly wouldn’t be my favorite game developers on Earth, but it got me thinking about whether this might be the beginning of a new era.

Colette wins Best Documentary Short

Respawn Entertainment is a game developer run under the Electronic Arts banner. They’re best known for games like Titanfall, Apex Legends, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. In short, they’ve been responsible for some of EA’s biggest successes of the last five years.

But their win at the Oscars, in partnership with Oculus, marks a major new step and recognition of the video game industry. And don’t get me wrong. This is not a sequence in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order winning an Oscar or any other video game. But the company helped to create a short documentary surrounding a French resistance fighter who returned to Germany for the first time since World War II.

It’s a beautifully done piece directed by Anthony Giacchino and happened to be included with every copy sold of the latest Medal of Honor game, helping to tie together events of the story of the game.

You Can Bet Square-Enix Took Notice

EA and Respawn Entertainment aren’t the only game developers who have tried to make inroads in the world of film. As far back as 2001, Square-Enix was developing movies to accompany their Final Fantasy franchise. We all saw Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) and we all know why it didn’t win an Oscar.

Part of it was because the story was borderline incomprehensible, the characters were boring. The graphics, while groundbreaking, weren’t quite there yet. But all those monumental flaws aside, the industry wasn’t there yet either. No one at the academy awards was about to cast a vote for a video game developer, much less one outside the United States.

And even now, the Oscars aren’t there yet. It took a developer making a documentary to accompany their game to even be considered for an academy award. That ignores the fact that scenes in video games have absolutely been Oscar-worthy for years now. But mark my words, it’s only a matter of time.

What does it mean for the gaming industry?

Nothing really. EA and Respawn winning an Oscar isn’t going to somehow change the fortunes of either company for good or for bad. It’s not going to change how people my age and younger feel about the Academy Awards and it’s not going to change how the Oscars feel about gaming.

It’s more of a symbolic victory, to show that video games and the companies that make them are becoming more accepted into the mainstream. And when I say that, I don’t mean that a bunch of crotchety old men is starting to care about gaming. They aren’t.

I mean that new blood is starting to replace the old guard in even the most entrenched circles of society. And guess what? That new blood grew up playing video games. And many of them haven’t put them down.

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Image courtesy of EA and Respawn Entertainment