I don’t understand all the flack machinima gets. Sure, it might be a type of storytelling aimed mainly towards amateur filmmakers, but so far it has had a huge social and cultural impact both online and in real life. I don’t think it’s fair to discount it as unsophisticated or treat it as if it is incapable of holding significance just because of its low budget or the fact that it is made using video game animations.
A prime example of a work of machinima that had a huge influence in facilitating discussion of a sociopolitical event is Koulamata’s “The French Democracy.” “The French Democracy” came about because a freelance industrial designer named Alex Chan decided to buy a game called The Movies and express his discontent with the riots that were going on in France at the time. It quickly became viral as it was distributed through forums, blogs, game websites, and movie download sites, and it was an effective medium for just an average citizen to share his thoughts and provoke conversation within the public.
Machinima is also relevant culturally; it has a huge presence on YouTube, with popular content creators such as YOGSCAST having over seven million subscribers and over 50 million views combined on their song “Diggy Diggy Hole.” Videos in which creators record themselves playing through a game (aptly named “Let’s Plays”) in addition to machinima make up a very large percentage of videos on the site. There is no denying the influence that YouTube has, especially on millennials. An article from the Huffington Post states that “YouTube Is Crushing Cable TV” — it is currently “reaching more 18- to 49-year-olds in America than any U.S. cable network” (Ligato). And machinima is not only purely for entertainment; many channels are using machinima as an educational tool, such as the channel Wonder Quest, which uses a MineCraft cat named Stampy to teach kids about subjects such as chemistry.
Machinima not only is a powerful medium because it is an accessible tool, but also because it is an effective way to distribute a message as it is less intimidating, easily digestible, and easy to spread. The impact machinima has and can have on our culture and in shaping the way people, especially the younger generation, think should not be taken lightly.