Let’s get into it!
The Simpsons franchise is arguable one of the most affluent and popular franchises, with TV series, movies, toys, and of course video games. I personally don’t like the idea of developers creating a game off the success of popular TV, but I digress. My analysis of the video game being ‘bad’ is half dependent on the gameplay, however, media archaeology in video games is not interested in the content of the game whatsoever. This is important because I will be using media archaeology to explore ‘The Simpson’s Wrestling’ (2001).
Why? Media archaeology is a method of exploring a text, by examining the past to – then re-examine again – the dominate narratives around that time. Andrew Reinhard proves how “video games are archaeological sites”, as games allow for many different archaeology variants (Reinhard 2018, p.159).
The Simpsons, but why wrestling?
Breaking over 1 million pay-per-views, a record at its time, Wrestle mania X-seven (2001) is arguable one of the greatest wrestling events of all time. WWF No Mercy (2000) the video was released just one year earlier on Nintendo 64, making it into the highest selling Nintendo 64 video games list. WWE analytics also confirm the highest period of TV ratings were between 1999 and 2001.
As Andrew Reinhard explains in his book, media archaeology will give the researcher “clues about the significance of modern material culture” (Reinhard 2018, p.9). It is important to note, as there are often much larger interconnections between elements of a video game and the broader context of the time and space in which they occur. This is why I can confirm that the Simpson’s Wrestling was heavily influence by the popularity of wrestling, and therefore, came off as a cash grab.
This Simpsons and Wrestling crossover was not completely pointless. The Simpsons by the Data suggests the TV ratings were heavily declining before the year 2000. The ratings between 2000 and 2005 however, were much more positive and an argument could be made that the influence of the video games the Simpson’s Wrestling and the Simpsons Hit & Run impacted this.
Why not read more? Comment below your thoughts!
Andrew Reinhard, Archaeology: An introduction to archaeology in and of video games.
Erkki Huhtamo and Jussi Parikka, Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications.