No two mediums encapsulate modern popular culture in quite the same way as video games and anime do. From classic titles like The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Ball, to modern icons such as Genshin Impact and Attack on Titan, these two art forms share obvious connections in their approach to storytelling, world-building, character design and visual aesthetics.
While the first anime may predate the first video game by at least 50 years, both mediums saw a boom in popularity during the 1980’s and 90’s, especially in western markets. This is perhaps when many modern fans were first exposed to these fast-paced, exciting and vibrant art forms.
Of course, the two mediums are also deeply rooted in Japanese culture. While anime originated in Japan, the first video game was actually an American creation, but the influence of Japanese companies like Nintendo, Sega and Sony continue to define success in the video game industry.
These surface-level connections go some way to explaining the synergistic relationship between video games and anime, but the ties between the two art forms actually stretch a lot further than you’d think. To explore this idea in more detail, here are 4 cool ways anime and video games work in tandem.
Perhaps the most obvious link between video games and anime is the sheer number of fans that the two mediums share. Anecdotal evidence can be seen in the marketing and realization of popular fan conventions like Comic-Con and Momo-Con, with video games and anime games both sharing center stage, though there’s also plenty of hard data available to back up these claims.
Data published by Crunchyroll, one of the most well-known anime streaming sites, reveals that 90% of over 10,500 surveyed users self-identify as gamers. This same survey, answered by an almost equal mix of male (55%) and female (45%) respondents, goes on to disclose that almost 50% of users claim to play video games for 20 hours or more during an average week.
Supporting information also suggests that frequent anime viewers are around 1.5x more likely to play video games on a weekly basis than non-viewers, typically enjoying a wider variety of video game genres than the average consumer. Considering some studies suggest that 36% of global consumers watch anime, fan crossover is likely contributing to sales growth within both markets.
Speaking of shared fanbases, modern video game publishers are well aware of the marketing potential found in promoting their products to both anime and video game fans. Another shared interest between these groups of consumers lies in streaming content on sites like Twitch. With millions tuning in per day to watch gaming streams, the potential for promotion can't be ignored.
The fairly recent marketing campaign for Genshin Impact is a great example of how leveraging influencer marketing can boost the reach of certain video games. With the title already taking character design and art style cues from the world of anime, choosing to market its release on media platforms filled with anime and video game fans proved to be a smart and effective move.
Popular influencers streaming live Genshin Impact content helped to boost the game’s profile among both anime and video game fans, with peak viewing figures of over 600,000 recorded in 2022. Influencer marketing, coupled with the title’s widespread availability on multiple console and mobile platforms, helped Genshin Impact generate close to $400 million in just two months.
The connection between anime and video games is not only confined within the two mediums themselves, but with a variety of shared visual aesthetics inspiring multiple iconic fashion styles and cultural movements. Primarily, video games and anime are responsible for popularizing cosplay around the world, with the global market for this industry expected to reach $80 billion by 2028.
Another example is the Harajuku subculture, originally a Japanese fashion style inspired by both anime and manga, Harajuku has since become popular across the western world. Harajuku now contains a mix of anime, gaming and cosplay styles reflecting the similarities of these mediums.
The adoption of colorful and striking anime aesthetics into gaming culture may also have helped the industry to diversify its reach. While a majority of the most popular early video games were fighters and shooters, the rise of anime-inspired RPG franchises like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest brought gaming to a new audience, with both series still releasing new titles to this day.
Video games and anime are now more popular than ever, with the global markets worth $334 billion and almost $30 billion respectively. This vast popularity has enabled the two mediums to not only inspire each other, but also influence traditional forms of media including the film and television industries.
Where past film adaptations of anime and video games may have failed to captivate audiences, The Last Airbender (2010) and Super Mario Bros (1993) being just two examples, new releases like One Piece (2023) and The Super Mario Bros Movie (2023) have earned widespread critical and commercial acclaim. This illustrates just how influential both these art forms have become.
With video game TV adaptations like The Last of Us (2023) bringing in an average of 32 million viewers per episode, and live-action anime remakes like the aforementioned One Piece (2023) gaining 18.5 million views in one week, both mediums have clearly inspired modern audiences.
As video games and anime continue to grow in popularity, the influence of both mediums can be seen across most media platforms. From online spaces in which streamers and gaming influencers gain millions of views, to traditional TV and film productions garnering critical acclaim, the synergistic relationship between anime and video games is captivating audiences and inspiring creators.
By understanding the similarities and common tropes that make these art forms so entertaining, video game companies, anime writers and marketing teams can capture these growing markets to boost the reach of their brands. With this in mind, the future looks bright for video game and anime fans.