I’ve come to realize recently that one of the biggest issues the industry is facing going into 2012 is it’s own opinion of itself, and (pardon me for this) it’s opinion of every other industry’s opinion of it.
The gaming industry suffers from the same social anxiety, and insecurities that it’s own supporters suffer from, and it hinders it at almost every step of it’s evolution to what we hope, is something like the film industry.
Gamers have always suffered from some form of insecurity in their own lives, and whether that’s what drove them to video games or the video games themselves are what made them insecure, it falls on the games industry to address this and support their loyal customers. For some time this was done by being foolish and immature on our own. Of course in the stock exchange the games industry is much like any other industry, but in the office and on the street it’s a whole different story.
Professionalism in the games industry is such an extremely loose term that I don’t think I can even define it. The official dress code for work is “what you would wear on a saturday” and the industry’s motto is “as long as it gets done.” If this was all that was on paper about the industry we would be in a lot of trouble, but somehow everything still does get done, and sometimes in remarkable fashion. Professionalism in this industry, and successful production are different talks though (and most likely much further down my career) and this is about the pride we have for our own products, and how we want everyone to see us.
Recently there was a bit of an issue at the VGAs (Video Game Awards) done by Spike TV. At one point an Activision representative was t-bagged on stage (crouched over-top of) by someone dressed in army gear. An uproar began online about whether or not this was how the industry still wanted to be viewed and if this is what we’d still be willing to accept as our official award show. One thing that was sorely not pointed out though, is that this is in no way an official, honored award show.
It was really interesting to me mainly because of the variety of people that were on either side of the argument (the act on stage was fitting, or insulting) and all for different reasons. Many developers thought it was inappropriate because they wanted a more serious award show to give them credit for the world-wide success their products have earned, while other developers didn’t really care, and accepted the award show as a crowd-pleasing spectacle and not something meant for the developers themselves. Fans on the other hand were even more dramatic, and thought it was either extremely inflammatory and disgraced their ‘noble’ hobbies, or thought it was absolutely hysterical and wanted to see a youtube remix of it.
The industry is at an interesting cross road as many people don’t know yet where the industry will end up; will it go the route of film and become a more serious medium or will it go the same way it’s always gone, and simply stay juvenile and relatively innocent to the rest of the world. As studies grow though about the effects games have on the human mind things need to mature, and reasons for the production of games have to become more serious, and more defensive.
What we’re seeing is both internal and external forces ripping apart this industry and making what I like to call meta-genres (yea that’s right) that separate the mature and juvenile sides of the industry.
An issue the game industry has is that not a lot is still defined whether it’s our vocabulary or our awards, and it feels like the start of an interesting dawn for the industry. People are going to be taking sides soon about what side they’re on and it should turn out to be pretty interesting.
More to come, with examples (shiny and new),