November 4, 2008 // 6:30 pm
- In the past 2-3 years the games industry has passed over the proverbial cusp that had prevented it from reaching mainstream appeal.
Games are being mentioned in the same breath as top tier films and books, being compared to art and various literature. It is set to take it's place as a prominent form of entertainment.
There are however a few things that are holding it back, small hurdles that need to be overcome. I shall now suggest three changes that the Games Industry as a whole should make to cement it's social acceptance and cultural relevance.
1 - Definitive media outlets
World news has the BBC, CNN and the New York Times. Film has Empire and IMDB, Music has Rolling Stone and NME. All of these are well established and respected sources for people outside of the subject they hold personal interest in. The games industry has Kotaku? Gamespot? Eurogamer? There isn't one site or even a few out there who I would personally dare send an outsider to the gaming world into.
I'm not saying these sites are bad, far from it. Each of those sites above, as well as others serve the 'inner' games industry perfectly. There is an abundant amount of rumor, speculation, news and community in each of these websites. They were born from the very communities that surround them and thus feed their needs and desires better than anywhere else.
The media space that Games occupy today is a world of 24/7 information and connectivity where the audience are chomping at the bit for any sort of new information. However as we take this next step into mainstream acceptance we must gather our forces so to speak, and present this incoming wave of people with a form factor they find familiar and comfortable in.
More traditional sources are starting to emerge to a wider audience, Edge Magazine and GarmaSutra are key examples of a more friendly, integrity based outlet for people to visit not just for people in the industry but those out of it. It is with sources like these that a more widely respected credibility and itegrity can be given to the games industry and those who report on it.
2 - Development of inner personalities
You see the photos of the latest film premier or music award show and they are full of stars and professionals from that industry. Game events? Full of uninterested, unrelated and more often than not ignorant 'celebrities'. Give me Cliff Blezinski, Peter Molyneux, Hideo Kojima and others who are spear heading their product but also lets see the artists, programmers, sound guys and everyone else who made the project possible.
Games don't need to piggyback on the whim of pop culture 'celebrities' from the latest reality show nor some C-list celebrity whose only line is 'Oh yeah, I totally played Pacman back in the day'. These products are made by groups of ridiculously talented people who shouldn't be undermined by a select group of people who are only related to the subject matter because they walked past a video game at one point.
Respect and congratulations should be given to the people who worked their 70 odd hour weeks for the past 2 years. Let the industry grow it's own celebrity characters from the rich pool of people that exist within it's walls and let the world see that it isn't a just bunch of pasty, spotty guys unfamiliar with the concept of hygiene.
3 - Maturity amongst the community
My third and final point is probably the most pivotal of all. There is no point in bringing in these new people to the community if they are only to met with racism, sexism and generally appalling behaviour. Unfortunately with interaction and communication a strictly internet based affair the games community has fallen into a place where bad language and discrimination are common place.
A situation which is often ridiculously rationalised by people as 'It's the internet, deal with it'. Well the truth is that no, we don't have to 'deal' with it and for a hobby in which the participants average in the late 20's you would expect something more. The outsider population that will be venturing in is very unlikely to be accepting of these 'standards' either.
It is a reflection that represents the internet landscape as whole, it's a place where people have the opportunity to build global communities with a shared interest but more often than not it degenerates into childish name calling. This is the main facet of the games industry that needs to change, production and development is full of professional people but it is the audience itself that lowers the standard.
If we the community can become more inviting as well as more respectful to the people here already then the overall gaming atmosphere will improve greatly.
I am by no means suggesting a quick fix for any of these problems and they will more than likely not happen for a long time or at all. However there are people out there who have the ability to make these changes, be it for financial or creative incentives.
Any of these changes will only result in a positive outcome for everybody involved. So it is with these three simple steps that I think will lift the perception, importance and relevance of gaming in the future.
Where do you think the industry stands? What would you suggest if you could make some changes?