Thumb-bangers : exploring the cultural bond between video games and heavy metal
Is part ofHeavy metal generations ; pp. 105-115.
Heavy metal and video games share an almost simultaneous birth, with Black Sabbath’s debut album in 1970 and Nolan Bushnell’s Computer Space in 1971. From Judas Priest’s ‘Freewheel Burning’ music video in 1984 to Tim Schafer’s Brütal Legend in 2009, the exchanges between these two subcultures have been both reciprocal and exponential. This chapter will present a historical survey of the bond between video games and heavy metal cultures through its highest-profile examples. There are two underlying reasons for this symbiosis: 1) the historical development and popular dissemination of the video game came at an opportune time, first with the video game arcades in the 1970s and early 1980s, and then with the Nintendo Entertainment System, whose technical sound-channel limitations happened to fall in line with the typical structures of heavy metal; 2) heavy metal and video games, along with their creators and consumers, have faced similar sociocultural paths and challenges, notably through the policies set in place by the PMRC and the ESRB, and a flurry of lawsuits and attacks, especially from United States congressmen, that resulted in an overlapping of their respective spaces outside dominant culture. These reasons explain the natural bond between these cultural practices, and the more recent developments like Last Chance to Reason’s Level 2 let us foresee a future where new hybrid creations could emerge.