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2010 in music
By location
AustraliaCanadaGreat BritianIrelandUnited States
By genre
Countryheavy metalelectropop


Timeline of major events[edit]

Year State/Tribe Process Status Ref.
2004 Massachusetts Massachusetts Judicial Yes
2008 Connecticut Connecticut Judicial Yes
2008 California California Judicial No Referendum (Same-sex marriages performed before vote recognized.)
2009 Vermont Vermont Legislature Yes Veto override
2009 Iowa Iowa Judicial Yes
2009 Coquille Tribe Legislature Yes
2009 Maine Maine Legislature No Referendum
2009 New Hampshire New Hampshire Legislature Yes
2009 Washington, D.C. District of Columbia Legislature Yes
2011 Suquamish Tribe Legislature Yes
2011 New York New York Legislature Yes
2012 Washington (state) Washington Legislature TBD; Issue signed by Governor but will not take affect until June, assuming it is not taken to referendum.

Video gaming[edit]

The Nintendo 3DS is the first gaming device released to feature 3D gaming without the need for stereoscopic glasses.

Coming into the 2010s, video games and their associated culture matures into an established element of pop culture. According to the Entertainment Software Association, the average age of a person who plays games is 37.[1]

Some of the new and innovative trends to gaming culture in this decade include cloud gaming, the rise of 3D gaming, and the ever-increasing advancements in graphic card technologies leading to more photo-realistic graphics. Video game sales declined in the early-2010s, most likely due to the effects of the Great Recession,[2] but the industry still continued to make millions of dollars in profits from wide-releases of popular franchises. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, released in late-2011, made over US$775 million in one-week which put that particular first-person shooter video game on par or even surpassing records of the film industry's opening numbers that week.[3]

The first half of the decade was dominated primarily with seventh generation consoles. This includes Microsoft's Xbox 360, the Sony Playstation 3, and Nintendo's Wii. The lack of many wide release titles on the PC lead some industry critics to question whether PC gaming is dead entirely.[4] The PC, however still remains the preferred choice medium by the Sims franchise and many of Blizzard's popular titles despite expanding onto other devices.[5][6] 2012 will introduce the first console regarded to be in the eighth generation, the Wii U. Sony and Microsoft have initially stated that their PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles were to be on a ten-year lifespan which wouldn't place a release of one of their consoles until 2014 or 2016,[7][8][9] but the Wii U's announcement has prompted the other two industry giants to make swifter timetables of release. The successor to the Xbox 360 is expected to be released in 2013 and feature 3D gaming and touchscreen controllers.[10] The eighth generation consoles are expected to face stiff competition from tablet and smartphone gaming markets, as well as an increased interest in independent games promoted by popular social networking sites.[11][12]

Following in the 3D craze, Nintendo released the Nintendo 3DS in early-2011. It introduced a new interface that does not require special glasses to observe stereoscopic 3D visual during gameplay.[13] Sony also releases a portable console, the Playstation Vita in 2012, but does not feature 3D gaming. The OnLive console is released as well becoming the first massively-produced cloud gaming-based gaming device.[14] Mobility and interaction become a common trend to see in video games. The original Wii revolutionized the industry with the introduction of the sensor bar with compatible sensitive controllers, and Sony and Microsoft reacted by releasing the Playstation Move and Kinect respectfully. This new and innovative direction expanded the video game market to those interested in physical therapy and to the elderly.[15][16][17][18]

Film and television[edit]

See also: 2010s in film

Film and television, two industries that have dominated pop culture for a large part of the last century found itself struggling to maintain its predominant influence throughout this decade.[19] The struggles plaguing the music industry in the previous decade had begun to catch up to other mediums, as well as the consequences of ever-increasing online usage by consumers. Internet piracy was a major concern for the industry as well and a reluctance to adapt to consumer demand through online venues even further harmed the industry's image.[20] In 2008, the industry launched the joint venture video site Hulu to combat numerous piracy concerns from other video-sharing sites.[21] As of 2010, Hulu was contemplating a US$2 billion IPO.[22] Also in 2010, Viacom lost a US$1 billion lawsuit it was pursuing against Youtube for copyright infringement.[23] Furthermore, governments began looking at ways to combat internet piracy. In early 2012, the United States Congress began debating the infamous SOPA and PIPA bills that were heavily lobbied by the entertainment industry and widely unpopular among the population.[24] Despite government efforts to debate the issue, internet piracy is still expected to be a major concern throughout the decade.[25][26]

Cable providers saw a decline in their membership in favor of online streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix and's Prime service due to cheaper cost to consumers.[27][28] These non-cable, internet-based media streaming services even began producing their own programming.[29]

3D films, although not a new technology, saw a resurgence in popularity after the long-awaited release of James Cameron's Avatar in late-2009.[30][31][32] In 2010, Avatar became the first film to cross the US$2 billion mark.[33] The box office success of other 3D releases that year insured the industry that 3D movies were not a fad.[34][35] In fact, the video game and television industries began to look into utilizing the 3D trend by releasing their own 3D products and services.

Animated films in the 2010s remain predominately computer generated. Traditional 2D animation has struggled in recent years and is seen by most to be an outdated or casualty to the rise of CGI-based films.[36][37] Japanese anime and manga still remain to be fairly popular 2D mediums globally and may be the exception to this trend.[38] In 2010, Toy Story 3 became the first animated film to gross more than US$1 billion worldwide.[39] Established long-running 2D animated sitcoms are still widely popular as well.[40]

The American Soap opera format slides in popularity as reality television and daytime talk shows continue to move in on their time slots.[41][42] All My Children and One Life to Live, both globally broadcast series that have been on the air for decades are cancelled.[43] Prime-time television serials and Spanish-language telenovelas remain popular globally.[44]

In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to receive the Academy Award for Best Director for the 2009 movie The Hurt Locker.[45]


The Burj Khalifa became the world's tallest building when completed in 2010.

Postmodernism and green designs[46][47] are common themes seen throughout the architecture of the decade. The aftermath of the energy crisis and the threat of peak oil have pushed developers to creating structures that are as sustainable as possible whether that is through the use of natural lighting, green/white roofs, better insulation, and other cost-saving means.[48] Architect Bjarke Ingels, known for designing the Danish pavilion at Expo 2010, has proposed a type of "hedonistic sustainability" to create a balance between playful art and sustainability.[49]

China and Dubai have been regarded as the "architect playgrounds" of this decade.[50][51][52][53] Many iconic structures, including the current world's tallest building Burj Khalifa and the Shanghai World Financial Center, are placed in these regions of the world. Dubai's development has been slowed by the global recession,[54] but China continues to flourish in its development towards a modern nation.[55] In fact, China is pushing Shanghai to become a global financial center by 2015.[56][57] As China continues to develop, it will continue to struggle to provide energy for its 1 billion strong population. China's Three Gorges Dam became fully operational in 2011 and is one of the world's largest gravity dams in the world.[58]

A supertall skyscraper race began in the late-2000s and in 2010, Dubai's Burj Khalifa became the tallest man-made structure ever built, standing at 828 m (2,717 ft). The title is not expected to last too long as other projects proposed or approved such as the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia[59] hopes to rise even higher. One World Trade Center (541.32 m (1,776.0 ft)), an environmentally integrated structure[60] which is set to become the tallest building in the United States, is expected to open in April 2013.[61] By January 2012, it had reached more than three-quarters of its designed height.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world's longest railway tunnel, is scheduled to be completed in 2017 or 2018.

Notable video-game franchises established in the 1990s[edit]

Notable video-game franchises established in the 2000s[edit]

Best-selling video games of the 1990s[edit]

Best-selling video games of the 1990s
(sale numbers as of 25 February 2012)[62]
Rank Title Release Date Franchise Developer(s) Platform Units sold
(in Millions)
1 Pokémon Red / Green / Blue Version 27 February 1996 Pokémon Nintendo/GameFreak Game Boy 31.37
2 Pokémon Gold / Silver Version 21 November 1999 Pokémon Nintendo/GameFreak Game Boy 23.10
3 Super Mario World 21 November 1990 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo SNES 20.61
4 Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition 12 September 1998 Pokémon Nintendo/GameFreak Game Boy 14.64
5 Super Mario 64 23 June 1996 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo Nintendo 64 11.89
6 Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 21 October 1992 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo Game Boy 11.18
7 Gran Turismo 23 December 1997 Gran Turismo Polyphony Digital PlayStation 11.15
8 Super Mario All-Stars 14 July 1993 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo SNES 10.55
9 Mario Kart 64 14 December 1996 "Mario Kart" Nintendo Nintendo 64 9.87
10 Final Fantasy VII 31 January 1997 Final Fantasy SquareSoft PlayStation 9.72


An evolving industry[edit]

Early on in the decade, the gaming world was shook up over two major stories that dominated the headlines: Sega was pulling out of the console war and that Microsoft was entering the market. Sega stated that the poor performance of the Sega Dreamcast and Sega Saturn lines contributed to their decision.[63] The company returned to third party publishing for the remaining consoles.[64] Microsoft officially debuted their Xbox console at the Game Developers Conference in 2000 after much speculation.[65]

After the release of the Xbox and Playstation 2, a noticeable trend was to push gaming consoles into media centers and offer more features than just playing games.[66][67] Nintendo was slow to react and released the Gamecube in 2001 without many of the exotic features seen in other consoles.[68] Instead, Nintendo was focusing on improving the gameplay experience, as well as preparing its new innovative controller to be released in 2006.[69] Backward compatibility also became a staple feature to gaming in this decade. The Playstation 2 was the first major system to allow for backward compatibility to a preceding console.[70][71]

Piracy became a big concern to game developers and many companies tried experimenting with ways to combat the growing problem, especially among PC games. Some companies required registration through the use of a product key.[72] In one of the more notable events of the decade, Valve was hit particularly hard by a hacker and subsequently had much of their work on Half-Life 2 leaked onto the internet.[73]

Sony and Microsoft released their Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles in the mid-decade. As the decade progressed, more and more features were added to consoles. Internet connectivity became ubiquitous and some games integrated the use of webcam accessories. In the mid-decade, the industry was caught in the crossfire of the HD DVD and Blu-ray format war. Ultimately, the Blu-ray format won out, but that didn't help Microsoft after they have already made HD DVD compatibility a feature.[74] Nintendo had still yet to release a system compatible for viewing films. Instead, Nintendo unveiled the Wii and revolutionized the industry with the interactive gameplay that its brand new controller provided.[75] It would not be until the next decade that Sony or Nintendo would release a similar motion controller to the Wii as an accessory (See: Kinect and PlayStation Move).

Graphic innovation[edit]

The 1990s decade oversaw the incredible transition from 2D-based gaming to fully immersive three-dimensional environments and gameplay. The 2000s continued on this trend by polishing many of the flaws of creating a new dimension for games such as rigid polygon characters and animations. By the decades end, Microsoft and Sony had already been releasing games in high definition.

Status of PC Gaming[edit]

PC gaming remained popular throughout the decade, but was in an overall decline as console graphics improved. Publishers also liked the standardization that consoles provided, whereas PC game performance was dependent on the graphic capabilities of a player's hardware. Nevertheless, the PC remained the device of choice for many popular strategy, simulation, and online games.

Blizzard was a company in the spotlight on numerous occasions throughout the 2000s and loyal to the PC. In 2000, it released the hack and slash game Diablo II which is frequently listed as one of the best games ever made.[76] The game continues to have a wide following many years after its release and was listed on NPD Group's top ten PC games sales list as recently as 2010.[77] Then in 2004, Blizzard wowed gamers with the release of World of Warcraft, which was the world's most-subscribed MMORPG at the time with over 10 million subscribers.[78][79]

The Sims, a spin-off project of the popular Sim City franchise, also became a popular game of the era. Combining all of its sequels and expansions, The Sims easily becomes one of the best-selling PC game in history.[80] The Sims also had an important role in bringing female and casual gamers into the often male-dominated and hardcore gaming market.[81][82][83]

Rhythm-gaming fad[edit]

Rhythm-gaming was primarily centered in the arcade with popular games such as Dance Dance Revolution and Beatmania. Many of these franchises have been popular since the late-nineties, but it wasn't until Guitar Hero's release in 2005 that the genre really had an impact on popular culture.[84] Most games in this category will feature a set list of songs that a player can choose to perform. They also tend to come with a unique controller, usually shaped like a musical instrument.[85] The success of Guitar Hero lead to the creation of other similar game franchises such as Rock Band and DJ Hero. Coincidentally, the game has been cited as inspiration for people seeking to actually play instruments and has lead to a revival of interest in classic rock nostalgia.[86][87][88]

In retrospect, it appears that rhythm gaming was a fad.[89][90][91] In late-2011, due to low sale figures, Activision closed its Guitar Hero division.[92][93]

Social network games[edit]

A decade of controversy[edit]

As video games approached greater realism in their graphic capabilities, it was inevitable that controversy would result. The evidence was inconclusive, but debates continued throughout the decade about the level of profanity, violence, pornography, and whether or not video games held an addictive effect.[94][95][96][97] One game series in particular that was no stranger to controversy in the 2000s was Grant Theft Auto.[98][99] In the 2004 San Andreas installment of the series, the game received widespread criticism revolving around the Hot Coffee mod, a normally disabled mini-game that could be enabled.[100][101] The drama and pressure forced the ESRB to re-rate the game as an AO (Adults Only) and to have it pulled from store shelves.[102] The game was also criticized for being excessively violent.[103]

Another game that struck a nerve with many analysts and the general public was a game released in 2005 entitled Super Columbine Massacre RPG! in which a player actually carries out the events of the tragic 1999 Columbine high school shooting.[104][105] The game and its creator, Danny Ledonne, was both praised for the bold statement on free speech and criticized for being distasteful.[106][107] It became the first finalist to ever be rejected at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival's Guerrilla Games Competition.[108] In protest of the rejection, many of the finalists withdrew from the competition and in the end no awards were handed out that year.[109][110] The competition has not been held since the 2007 incident.

Expanded influence[edit]

As video games diversified and became an ever-present part of pop culture, its influence began integrating with other mediums. The film industry in particular took notice and capitalized on how they could integrate gaming into their storytelling. The Wachowskis brothers, known for their Matrix series of films, developed Enter the Matrix as a midquel tying together the events of the Reloaded and Revolutions motion pictures.[111] Making films from video games is nothing new to Hollywood, but the transition from video game to film doesn't always succeed.[112] The 2000s however began to show promise in the profitability and success of making video game-based films.[113] Opening in 2001, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider became the highest-grossing video game adaptation with over a US$274 million box office performance.[114][115] Tomb Raider held that title for nearly a decade.[116][117] Other adaptations in the 2000s included the popular Resident Evil saga, Silent Hill, Max Payne, Hitman, Alone in the Dark, DOOM, House of the Dead, and Dungeon Siege.

Games of the 2000s[edit]

3D gaming[edit]

At the beginning of the decade, the only genres of gaming that were predominantly 3-dimensional were role-playing games (RPGs) and first-person shooters (FPSs). The real-time strategy (RTS) genre had seen its first successful 3D release, Homeworld, in 1999, although it wasn't until the 2002 releases of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Age of Mythology that 3D became the standard for the genre.

Computer games[edit]

The Sims, released by Maxis in 2000, sold more than 6.3 million copies worldwide by 22 March 2002, to become the best-selling PC game in history, surpassing Myst.[118] After Electronic Arts bought Maxis, the company produced numerous expansions, turning The Sims franchise, which has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide as of 16 April 2008,[119] into the best-selling PC franchise in history as of 19 March 2008.[120]

Interactive gaming[edit]

Nintendo has led the market in console interactivity. The handheld Nintendo DS, released in 2004, features a touchscreen. Game interactivity took a major step forward with the introduction of the motion-sensitive Wii Remote with the Nintendo Wii in 2006. The PS3 introduced a tilt-sensitive controller on its release as well.

The 2000s has also seen the implementation of physics engines and increasing in-game interactivity into video gaming. Red Faction, a first-person shooter (FPS) released in 2001 for the PS2 and the PC, features one of the earliest examples of destructible environments in video gaming through its use of "Geo-Mod" technology. Certain sections of walls could be destroyed to provide alternate pathways or reveal hidden locations. Half-Life 2, released in 2004, is widely considered to have revolutionized physics in gaming with its Havok engine, which allowed for what was at the time widespread interactivity with objects in the environment of the game, although very little of the environment was destructible. The Havok engine brought realistic physics implementations to real-time strategy (RTS) with Age of Empires III in 2005. Black, a console FPS released in early 2006, allowed the player's weapons to extensively damage the environment. The PC games Company of Heroes (an RTS), released in late 2006, and Crysis (an FPS), released in 2007, both extended the implementation of physics in video gaming, featuring environments that were nearly entirely destructible and interactive. Since the use of physics engines has greatly increased since around 2004, so has the level of interactivity and destructibility in video games.

Rhythm games[edit]

The rhythm game genre took off in the late 1990s with Beatmania in 1997 and Dance Dance Revolution in 1998. Although beginning their lives in arcades, they made the move to the home console market and each spawned a number of sequels and spinoffs. The popularity of rhythm games accelerated in the mid-2000s, led primarily by Guitar Hero, which was released in 2005 and featured a guitar-like controller and licensed soundtracks. Initially available only for the PS2, its sequels have expanded the franchise to include all consoles. The developer of the first two Guitar Hero games went on to create Rock Band in 2007, which expanded the concept to include drums and vocals. Guitar Hero World Tour, released in 2008, added drums and vocals as well, largely in an effort to compete with Rock Band. The independent game Audiosurf, released in 2008, allows the user to play their own mp3 files and maneuver a spaceship-like object across a track to hit the music "notes".


Although massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) began in the 1990s with such titles as Ultima Online (1997), Everquest (1999), and Asheron's Call (1999), during the 2000s, MMORPGs became a dominant genre among PC gaming. Phantasy Star Online, released on the Dreamcast in 2000 and later ported to the Xbox, GameCube, and PC, popularized MMORPGs for consoles, although it remains a PC-dominated genre. MMORPGs feature persistent worlds, player-driven economies, frequent content updates, and massive servers that contain thousands of players. Most MMOs also feature monthly fees to help with the massive costs required to maintain and continually upgrade the games. The MMO genre has gained much of its success by cashing in on previous popular titles (such was the case with Ultima Online and Phantasy Star Online) with such titles as Final Fantasy XI (2002), Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (2003), World of Warcraft (2004), The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar (2007), Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (2008), Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (2008), and the in-development titles Star Trek Online, Warhammer 40,000 Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. World of Warcraft, released in 2004, has established itself as one of the most popular games on the PC and set what are now the generally-accepted standards for the genre. Lineage II has established a large market outside of the United States, particularly in Asia, and is the second-most popular MMO worldwide.[citation needed] MMOs free of monthly charge, including RuneScape (2001)MapleStory (2003), and Guild Wars (2004) have also proven to be popular.

MMOFPSs have also been developed, although they have not gained nearly the popularity that MMORPGs have. Perhaps the two most successful games of this genre have been World War II Online (2001) and PlanetSide (2003).

Browser-based and Independent Games[edit]

By the early 2000s, the Internet was viable as the sole distribution platform for game developers, which enabled a smaller scale of commercial development than in the past. New markets formed around these newer, cheaper publishing methods, with the primary methods used being downloadable and browser-based games.

Independent games were at first associated with the emerging market for casual games, because of the perceived low budget of most casual games, but over the course of the decade, casual games rapidly grew into capital-intensive productions, with titles such as Bookworm Adventures costing over half a million USD to produce. Today, independent games are increasingly associated with art games.

Games as downloadable computer programs were not a new concept in this decade; however, gaming within the browser, using HTML, Java, Javascript, and Flash, became increasingly viable over the course of the 2000s as the browser and computer technology improved. Browser-based games have mostly avoided packaged-goods-for-sale business models in favor of advertising/sponsorship, subscription, and microtransactions.

Controversial mature-content in gaming[edit]

The Grand Theft Auto series, notable for many violent and sexual plotlines, was a best-seller of the 2000s. The series' popularity sparked a fad of several Mature-rated video games based on including gang warfare, drug use, and perceived "senseless violence" into the gameplay. The Hot Coffee controversy, a sex mini-game, was discovered in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and caused widespread controversy and have fueled efforts to ban the sale of Mature-rated games to minors. The effort has been spearheaded by mothers, lawmakers, and activists (such as Jack Thompson), although all such efforts to pass any laws concerning this have been firmly struck down. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was originally an M-rated game, but due to much controversy was later turned into an AO-rated game.[121] However, the game was changed and was re-released as an M-rated game.


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