Kyle Sullivan/Newgrounds

The game industry has a tendency to have critical conversations die too easily. For an industry on the verge of greatness, that can’t happen.

The games industry is sometimes tedious and sometimes thrilling to cover. There are periods of extreme dullness between stories or games, only relieved by that next game to sink our teeth into. It’s the reason why we cling to rumours and debate them to no end–the rest of the time we’re so anxiously waiting for the next established release. Whatever the cause, we save these conversations only for when the boredom suffered between games sets in. And only to be quickly displaced by the shininess of a new title, the reviews and controversies that follow, and another period of dullness ensues.

For myself, the most delightful subjects to write about are those with ongoing or reoccurring storylines, like the still-warm argument over video game violence or the now-dead conversation regarding sexism in the industry. Otherwise known as topics desperate for discussion, even if in the former we play no provable part. It’s because there are many plots intertwined within these scenarios: how government and legislators see games, how a gender-equal industry would change our perspective, and so on.

Instead, the biggest talking point is Microsoft supposedly blocking used games and having its next console online-only. Which is business suicide because not everyone can afford a full-price game every single time. Consumers would scurry away in droves to either Sony or Nintendo. Microsoft obviously anticipates this, and releasing that sort of console would make them the laughing stock of the games industry. And given games journalism’s history with citing sources, this could just be simply someone trying to stir the pot before Sony reveals the PlayStation 4 later this month.

Video game violence and blatant sexism are items that should be a recurring thought for this industry, one on the verge of a boom in creativity and prosperity, and the press is responsible for reminding us of that duty. It’s a win for them too: more content to produce, more to engage the readership, and in fact more talking points to burst these topics wide open. The practice also gives the press credibility; they take authority of these arguments and show fearlessness, a quality touted by any respectable outlet.

Even more apt is it shows the industry is open to change. To drift away from the cultural stance of adolescence into a serious form of consumable entertainment, willing to grasp an undivided future, and not buckled down by utterly ridiculous and misunderstood trends. The video game industry does not cause mass shootings. It does not have an exclusionary reflex. But the way our conversations turn heated and die almost as quickly leaves us defending and not perpetuating the greatness of video games.

If anything, short-lived conversations are a symptom of something greater: an identity crisis. The video game industry doesn’t know what the future holds, allowing the Microsoft rumour garbage to grow too big. The same with Sony, too, which had the same speculation attributed to its next machine last year. Our fascination with the next trio of consoles overshadows anything else to a fascinating degree, and frankly, our situation won’t evolve unless we take charge.

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  • B Chambers

    Great read. I’ve seen this issue play out in more arenas than just games. I write and make videos about games from time-to-time. I also write, produce and used to perform music. Heck, I often like just having a good philosophical discussion about general issues going on in the world. On all these fronts, I’ve found many people I know unwilling to engage in deeper discussions about issues that surround them.

    You pointed to an identity crisis being at the root of the lack of depth in our conversations. I think it’s really just indifference. We Americans come from a comfortably complacent society. We don’t want to discuss violence in video games simply because it requires too much energy for what seems like little to no pay-off.

    Plus, why would I engage in an in-depth conversation when I can just go look at the newest Harlem Shake video or argue with someone about why PS3 is superior to 360 because I insecurely tie my opinions and preferences to my identity?

    This is why I think the conversations we should be having die before their time.

    • JeffHeilig

      Yeah, it’s a sad thing. Like the current anger over microtransactions will dissipate quickly once either Tomb Raider or Infinite are released to the public.

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