When I'm Sixty-Four: Beatles Rock Band and the Commodification of Nostalgia
AbstractIn 2009, only a few months after the game’s release, the popular trade magazine Advertising Age declared Beatles Rock Band one of America’s hottest brands ("America's hottest brands", 2009). This is quite a feat for a lowly video game, and begs that we consider the reasons for the game’s success as well a the potential social consequences for similar popular games. There are two major elements at work in the creation of Beatles Rock Band as a successful brand, and this paper conducts an analysis of the game in order to identify both of them. First of all, it explores the Beatles as a brand that continues to provide emotional and spiritual value for consumers, and how the feelings associated with this brand have developed intertextually since the band first gained international popularity in 1962. Secondly, this paper will show how Beatles Rock Band works almost like a documentary game, and in doing so rewrites history in order to capitalize on a white-washed and romanticized ideal of 1960s culture. As such, it will show the ways that the Beatles Rock Band draws on previous commercial texts associated with the Beatles brand to create an hyperreal fiction based on historic people and events. This paper is divided up into four sections. The first section will provide a theoretical overview of convergence, remediation, and the business of culture, and then will conduct a brief review of the methodology of digital game studies. The second section will look at the specifics of the game, and some of ways that the game has been marketed to the public at large. The third section will provide a description and overview of the Beatles as a brand, and the ways the brand continues to adapt and change over time in order to appeal to a broad and changing audience. Finally, the fourth section will discuss the commoditfication of nostalgia generally, and the specific ways that this game rewrites history to reproduce it as a commodity.