We Want Your Living Room 

By: Trevor Shanahan


It is no real secret that there is a war for your living room.  Though not a literal war, there are businesses that are vying for your time and attention in this sacred space of media consumption.  Video game companies are also involved in this contentious media melee; and for longer than one might think.  Commercially, Magnavox and Atari were some of the first video game companies who sought placement at the epicenter of the home – but they only started what still persists today.


What can I say that the ad hasn’t already?


So why the living room?  Why not a den or basement or rec room?  It’s because the living room is where a household congregates and traditionally spends most of its time – recreational and sometimes otherwise.  Magnavox and Atari saw this potential and advertising was targeted appropriately so their products would be part of the frequented environment.  If the console could be a point of interest and collective interactions, then games would naturally be a part of that – what a  great selling point to game developers from hardware manufacturers.


Atari living room/family ad.


As hardware companies strive for living room dominance we see a mediamorphosis in console feature.  Both Sony and Microsoft have consoles with features that prevent them from being turned “off” to access various forms of media.  They play video games, stream movies and TV, can play music, and also permit the creation of media sharing and user created content.


Video games also are carving-out niches in living rooms; local co-op is spearheading this movement.  NES games like Duck Hunt and Super Mario offered alternating co-op play, but Bubble Bobble, Ice Climbers, and Snow Bros. had simultaneous local co-op.  Nintendo revisited the power of local cooperative play with the Wii and its unique approach to hardware.  With Wii Sports, Nintendo had both hardware and software that justified placement in the heart of the home.


I think this is why we still see a lot of releases, from triple-A to indie, that have local multiplayer as a feature – it assumes (or hopes) for more than one person playing the game.  The feature is group-friendly and may subtly suggest “Hey, Wii sports was a 4-player game, so am I,” or simply “Share me with others.”


Gunscape screenshot.


Battleborn, Star Wars Battlefront, Call of Duty Black Ops 3, Lego Dimensions, Gunscape, Disney Infinity 3.0, Trine 3, Toy Soldiers War Chest, Rocket League, and many more local co-op titles are out or coming out…and they’re coming for your living room.


Welcome them.




Trevor Shanahan: About the blogger


About the blogger

ccccccMy name is Trevor Shanahan and I am finishing my undergraduate degree in Marketing with a minor in Media Studies.  I am interested in video games and everything they touch (their industry, development, games as art, psychology of games – like gamification, industry issues, cutlure, etc.).  I have come to realize that the more I learn ( and learning is so important) the more I do not know.  Learn as much as you can about what you love and   try to give back to it.