Lime green liquid in a bottle has never appealed to me. Yet, as a gamer, I see posts stereotyping gamers as Mountain Dew fiends constantly. It leaves me wondering: Why this beverage in particular?
It started back in 2007. Mountain Dew Game Fuel was released alongside “Halo 3” and Xbox 360. This began a longstanding partnership with video games and gaming culture, including partnerships with “World of Warcraft,” “Middle-Earth: Shadow of War” and, most notably, the “Call of Duty” series.
The negative stereotyping of gamers started long before the Mountain Dew partnerships, though. A prime example of this comes from “South Park,” in the Emmy award-winning episode “Make Love, Not Warcraft.” This piece of satire portrays gamers, specifically those who use a PC, as fat, unhealthy individuals with no life apart from their screens. This episode was released in 2006, a year before Mountain Dew’s first partnership with “Halo 3,” but the unhealthy nature of Mountain Dew now perpetuates South Park’s depiction.
Today, the soda is also mainly associated with “violent” video games. Though arguably incorrect, games are already poorly perceived by the media, as there are numerous allegations that these games encourage violent behavior in adolescents. Confirmation bias runs rampant, and one negative connotation is bound to lead to another — the unhealthy habits seemingly attached to Mountain Dew reinforce these negative attitudes.
But there’s a silver lining to this. Mountain Dew’s partnerships expanded the video game community. I personally have made and kept in touch with friends through promotions like the original Mountain Dew Double XP weekend. The brand brought players together with their events, and they continue to do so — I have many fond memories of playing Counter-Strike Operations with my friends or more recently playing Valorant with friends I hadn’t talked to in years.
The soda’s partnerships also brought legitimacy to gaming. While already popular by the mid-2000s, the gaming industry struggled to form partnerships with non-tech companies. Mountain Dew’s partnership with Microsoft established the precedent that it is not just okay, but smart for large corporations and brands to associate with video games. Now, video games are paired with huge companies and partners all the time; look at McDonald’s new Pokemon Card promotion or Disney’s partnership with Fortnite.
Whether you do the Dew or don’t, the stereotypes it perpetuates will continue to plague gamer culture for the rest of time. However, I cannot deny the positive impacts that it has had. Being able to see gaming reach massive success in my own lifetime is partially due to Mountain Dew. For better or worse, the future of gaming may rest in the hands of a soda.
Daily Arts Contributor Maxwell Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.