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Since the first popular video game was released more than 50 years ago, they have often been brushed off as niche and nerdy — the arena of the basement dweller, the outcast, the arcade-addicted kid who didn’t want to engage with the real world. But that’s never really been true — and it’s especially not now. Today, Zelda, Mario, and Sonic are household names. Epic world-building has become not just a career for game designers, but also a passion for countless creators. Hundreds of millions of people go to Twitch to watch others conquer bosses and reveal tricks, and hundreds of millions more talk about it on Discord. Viewership for League of Legends World Championships rivals that of the Super Bowl. At this point, it’s estimated that there are 3 billion gamers on the planet. For decades, gaming was a subculture. Now, it’s become the culture itself. That’s why, over the next six pages, we’re taking a closer look at every facet of the world of gaming: introducing you to the most creative players, spotlighting the new releases and Hollywood adaptations we can’t wait to see, examining the fight to diversify the industry both onscreen and behind the scenes, and more. It’s a salute to where gaming’s been — and where it’s headed next.