The Repeater is a feature in which important discussions are highlighted and linked from other authors to help the information get around to as many eyes and ears as possible. Relevant to video games? Maybe. Relevant to gamers? Definitely. Let these be your food for thought. (Image Source: http://www.devcom.com/)
The Bloom and Doom Cycle of Gaming
Greg Costikyan at Gamasutra published a fiery article about the waxing and waning of industry innovation. He argues that there’s a cycle of greed which, every 10 years, suppresses innovation and burns game development to the ground only to have a new generation rise from it’s ashes. Even though the industry recovers, he believes it doesn’t have to be this way and I agree. The idea that just because developers have been able to recover and revitalize the industry after the ravages of capitalism nearly destroy it doesn’t mean that this cycle is beneficial or best. There are better ways to do this.
In the comments, readers were keen to add that while the cycle of destruction is true, there’s never been a better time for games development. These kinds of arguments are fine and often valid, but I think they get brought up for the wrong reason. Usually respondents are eager to say that “things aren’t that bad/aren’t as bad as they were” in order to conclude that things are therefore good and we should be grateful. This is the wrong reason because they’re angled to refute the truth, to leave it unacknowledged somehow. It can get really twisted when rationalized too much — and that’s typically how I see these discussions go down. Sure, we’re doing some things right and let’s keep doing them. But they are woefully short of what we really ought to do. If such points aren’t balanced with this in mind, they rapidly become an excuse to cruise with the status quo.
Sexism in the Industry
This is an extremely interesting study published at Gamasutra began over a year ago to learn more about sexism in the games industry. While I believe it’s on-going, author and researcher Jennifer Allaway shares some results and analysis. Not surprisingly, sexism does exist and is as destructive as we already are aware of. The comments section though, while overwhelmingly supportive, had it’s share of deniers and sexism-skeptics.
Ethics in Game Design
A while back i wrote an article questioning the role of the industry and it’s developers in designing ethical games. Last year I remember reading a couple of articles asking the same question. This time around, Andreas Ahlborn at Gamasutra poses the question. He thinks there’s clearly some responsibility on the part of the developers and asks them to question their design intentions and decisions. I couldn’t agree more and I plan to re-open that discussion with a new article about it in the near future.
Adriel Wallick of Gamasutra shares a story of Mountain Dew and sexism and how she and her fellow developers banded together to make a stand against it. This is a very inspiring read. Though the story shared is disappointing, it was very encouraging to see how the developers supported one another and decided to not participate in sexist schemes.
There’s something that gets to us all when we hear or are presented with information which contradicts who we believe we are. I’m referring to the knee jerk reactions in comment threads from developers in these articles, some of whom are eager to assert that nothing is wrong or who just don’t want to inspect their own skepticism. I know these reactions too well and I think a lot of us do — from experience at both ends. But we are responsible for what we do and accountable for the consequences. It doesn’t matter that we believe something else or that we believe it passionately. We hate to be judged by what we do and we like to wander into the realm of who we believe we are without considering those acts. For example, many men love to talk about the superiority as human beings, far above animals and even above certain “kinds” of humans — yet in the same breath they will blame rape and/or sexism on “natural” (animal), irresistible biological “impulses” (honestly, we have to pick one, it can’t be both). In the end, what we do is what defines us. Besides, if the consequences of our reactions do not reflect those beliefs, then what do they matter?
It’s not all doom and gloom as Adriel’s story proves. There’s just a lot of work to continue to do. I think 2014 will see radical changes in the games community.
Scree Tags: #ethicalgamedesign #economics #solidarity