Author Topic: Will the games industry mature?  (Read 2930 times)

Offline KIrving

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Will the games industry mature?
« on: August 10, 2006, 07:47:57 PM »
A local paper (The Age - Green Guide) I read recently did an article on mature content in games (sparked by the first 'Sex in Video Games Conference' that was held in San Francisco) and as a related note the rise of the female gamer, particularly in Australia.
Here's a link to the article,
http://www.theage.com.au/news/games/flesh-for-fantasy/2006/08/08/1154802893878.html
 
It stated that, "In Australia, more than 70 per cent of gamers are adult and more than a third are female."  It also said, "Just as significant, 38 per cent of Australians who have played a computer or video game in the past year are female."
I must admit that when going into a games store these days I've noticed that at least a third of the customers are women.  I don't feel that I'm being looked at strangely like I still feel if I go into a Mind Games or equivalent store that sells role playing stuff.

Here's a link to an online article refering to the Conference.
http://news.com.com/2100-1043_3-6082459.html

I know that for many who attended the conference it was probably about seeing how much money could be made by inserting porn into video games.  For others it hopefully sparked discussion about game development in general and the need for game developers to understand their market.

I'm not interested in porn in games, however I am interested in mature and immersive gameplay.  I generally tend to lean towards games that have as much story as they do action.  Hey, I also like to play Halo but I get the most enjoyment out of playing in co-operative mode with my spouse.
I absolutely hate to be nannied by a game.  I think the Conference organiser, Brenda Brathwaite encapsulated some of my feelings about the general climate of fear towards mature content, "as if all gamers are kids and all media should be reduced to a form that kids can consume". 

Will gaming ever mature and have a similar range of adult expression as literature, art, music and film?  Will safety and censorship continue to dominate the industy?

Edit - added link to newspaper article.





 
« Last Edit: August 10, 2006, 10:11:23 PM by KIrving »
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Offline jcompton

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Re: Will the games industry mature?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2006, 10:21:05 PM »
Will gaming ever mature and have a similar range of adult expression as literature, art, music and film?  Will safety and censorship continue to dominate the industy?

The answer is probably yes to both, although I'd argue that games have already offered quite a range of expression and experience. Games have been making people laugh and cry for decades, the tools and media just change some, is all. But just as those other media have discovered, while it's possible "to do good work" and play at the fringes or in the rarefied air, most of what gets made is accessible pulp, always has been and likely always will be. Will we ever have the video game equivalent of Good Bye To All That? Sure, but it won't sell as well or inspire as many sequels as Brother's Call To Honorous Glory III: This Time It's D-Day From The Beach's Point Of View*.

Speaking of the US market, at least, the same sort of institutional barriers that affect films affect games--most major retailers/theaters won't sell/show anything which doesn't have a "voluntary" rating on it issued by the industry powerhouse. There are some extra legal roadblocks being thrown up against games, certainly more than, say, books tend to suffer, but in any media you'll find people looking to sanitize and ban what they don't appreciate.

One problem is that there's not a terribly good market for independent games. Since the number of bibliophiles who insist on gold foil leather binding is fairly small, a cheaply produced book can offer a similar experience to 99% of bookbuyers as one funded with an enormous advance. Music can be produced very very cheaply these days with crystal-clear audio quality, pressed onto CDs at affordable rates and sold in exactly the same packaging as the big boys. And independent film, because of its established nature, has a lot of patronage at the lower end and promise of gazillion-dollar payoffs for the occasional breakthrough director--two things the gaming industry largely lacks. Games, on the other hand... well, anybody know any rich and wildly successful independent game developers out there? Buyers can get a lot of product for free and get a lot of bells and whistles for their $40 at retail, and that doesn't leave a lot in the middle for everyone else**.

As an aside, I've been fairly underwhelmed by the majority of the supposed "as mainstream as it gets" sex-in-games people. Most are either far too obsessed with the concept of having games that involve sex/romance/love and do nothing about actually making them, or are so fixated with catering to some pretty fringe kinks that I think they they lose sight of how much good stuff can be done with simple "boy meets girl and chemistry ensues" setups.

* - yes, not the same war. Shhh.
** - But I'm hoping you'll all buy 10 copies of TBH and prove us the exception to the rule.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2006, 10:45:41 AM by jcompton »
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Offline cmorgan

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Re: Will the games industry mature?
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2006, 10:32:37 AM »
I think the Gaming Industry will definitely get there, with the same growing pains and frgmentation that all art and/as entertainment forms have eventually evolved  through.

I think you are right in drawing direct parallels with the Gaming, Music, and Film/TV fields; as you have both alluded, [I know, incredibly worn and old discussion point follows] they are all facing the same kind of heavy pressure to create product that is profitable and easily/cheaply marketed, rather than artistically or experientially designed. Performers and Composers push for new artistic works of merit to be performed; the management simply says "we need to fill seats. We are playing Brahms and Beethoven again. Sit down and shut up. Or do you want to have no orchestra left?". Widespread availability of the MasterWorks is wonderful, but when reliance on the tried-and-true trumps originality and artistic exploration, fields stagnate, loose favor and flavor, and die out (ok, so perhaps it would not be a good idea to perform a full season of Cage, Glass, and Ives, with Adams and Carter thrown in, but you get my point I'm sure  ;D).

One of the side-effects (so to speak) of the music recording/distribution "revolution" is the fragmentation of audience. On the one hand, the "mass-market" pushes the industry to restrict activity to the lowest common denominator (Brittany Spears, et. al.); on the other hand, anyone with a truly great sound can begin a solid following and make an o.k. living by net-broadcast and big word of mouth on the Internet (sorry, I know it is happening, but would have to search for specifics).

Audiences know this. If they don't see/hear what they want, they have an ever-expanding set of choices (e.g. Cable TV). The more this "choice" idea takes form, the more likely it is that disenfranchised audiences will seek or force  those new opportunities along (can you say X-Games on ESPN? The Sci-Fi Channel? How about the very existance of modding communities for such mainstream games as MechWarrior 4 or Quake?).

For the "engineer/artist/writer", this means less of a chance to make the huge bucks, unless they are assimilated (and usually destroyed) by the Mainstream. It does, however, provide more and more opportunity to be taken seriously without Big Bucks Studio/Corporate backing;   I am confident TBH falls in an "Independent Film" category that will ultimately prove extremely successful. I don't see the $$$$$ flowing into Art Film venues, Orchestra Halls, or Opera Houses each night, but I do see $$ (which, let's face it, is the grease that keeps artistic/engineering endeavors from entropy).

And (back to music, which I know, and away from all this speculation about industries I know little of), from an artistic point of view, if any of us were really in it completely for the steady, relatively non-risky cash, we would be involved in the creation of clones of existing successful products, instead of creating something better. I would be pushing to play movie music nights with performing clowns and "Best-Of-The -Best moments of the Masters ReMix" (for the ultimate musical expression of this, see Nicole Kidman in the ReMix version of Moulin Rouge - a fun, completely "lifted" rip-off and remix of 3 centuries of artistic expression, wrapped up in a sexy mass-market package and broadcast directly into the cultural mainstream).

Offline KIrving

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Re: Will the games industry mature?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2006, 06:15:14 PM »
Will gaming ever mature and have a similar range of adult expression as literature, art, music and film?  Will safety and censorship continue to dominate the industy?

The answer is probably yes to both, although I'd argue that games have already offered quite a range of expression and experience. Games have been making people laugh and cry for decades, the tools and media just change some, is all.

True.  I have very fond memories of various games, particularly in the Adventure field, that were entertaining, thought provoking and even at times pushed the envelope or at least were not, overly, commercially repressed.
Although I do believe that the wave of conservative themes in games seem to be something of more recent event as gaming has pushed into the mainstream.

Will we ever have the video game equivalent of Good Bye To All That? Sure, but it won't sell as well or inspire as many sequels as Brother's Call To Honorous Glory III: This Time It's D-Day From The Beach's Point Of View*.

LOL!  (Okay this is where I confess to owning 'Call of Duty - Finest Hour'. :))

Speaking of the US market, at least, the same sort of institutional barriers that affect films affect games--most major retailers/theaters won't sell/show anything which doesn't have a "voluntary" rating on it issued by the industry powerhouse. There are some extra legal roadblocks being thrown up against games, certainly more than, say, books tend to suffer, but in any media you'll find people looking to sanitize and ban what they don't appreciate.

It's not much different in Australia, except that our guidelines regarding censorship of games are currently very strict.  We have no adults only or R rating for games so if they won't fit into a MA 15+ rating they get baned.  Also we seem to have a rather strange system where various politicians can complain about a game (such as the use of a graffiti competition in a recent example) and get it baned as well. 
Over a decade of conservative government in Australia has slowly eroded personal freedoms and largely restricted creative development in all areas.

One of the side-effects (so to speak) of the music recording/distribution "revolution" is the fragmentation of audience. On the one hand, the "mass-market" pushes the industry to restrict activity to the lowest common denominator (Brittany Spears, et. al.); on the other hand, anyone with a truly great sound can begin a solid following and make an o.k. living by net-broadcast and big word of mouth on the Internet (sorry, I know it is happening, but would have to search for specifics).

True.  Although I'm rather old fashioned and like to have something in my hands, also something that I know will fully and faithfully reproduce sound quality on my stereo system.  Perhaps the internet will be the main refuge for independent game development and distribution.  Also giving a chance for a game to cultivate a following, be a 'sleeper' hit. Some mainstream games barely hit the shelves before their sales figures are reviewed and if not 'good' enough get pulled and production ceased.
Okay it seems I'm going to have to seriously start saving for a new computer and broadband access. :)

Audiences know this. If they don't see/hear what they want, they have an ever-expanding set of choices (e.g. Cable TV). The more this "choice" idea takes form, the more likely it is that disenfranchised audiences will seek or force those new opportunities along (can you say X-Games on ESPN? The Sci-Fi Channel? How about the very existance of modding communities for such mainstream games as MechWarrior 4 or Quake?).
Perhaps.  However I sometimes feel more like our choices are shrinking, not increasing.  Where a population of a country is large and or wealthy, perhaps alternative options present themselves.  Where it is not or doesn't reach the magic number of demand, (difficult for a non mainstream area of interest to do) choices remain small or restricted to what they can dubiously download.  (Australia is one of the largest consumers of downloadable content.)

Thank you, jcompton and cmorgan for your responses.  They made interesting reading and very valid points.     
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Offline jester

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Re: Will the games industry mature?
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2006, 04:55:45 AM »
Comment on the Sex in Videogames conference: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/lounge/view/55826

for those too lazy to browse:

Quote
Sex in Games: Live, Clothed Girls
Russ Pitts posted on 15 Jun 2006, 02:54 PM

Under the heading: Girls Just Wanna Have Relevance, the first ever Sex in Videogames Conference convened last week in sunny San Francisco and generally failed to catch the attention of gamers the world over.

With speakers spanning the full range of outspoken gamer chicks - from the always ready to intimidate, Regina Lynn, to lady game developer, Sheri Graner Ray - the stated purpose of the conference was to "Explore the Business of Digital Erotic Entertainment." I am honestly having a hard time imaging a way to make sex sound less interesting.

Adult entertainment is a multi-billion dollar industry. So is gaming. So why, therefore, have attempts to merge the two failed to penetrate the market; often showing limp (if not flaccid) sales figures?

At first glance, sex and games would appear to be two great tastes that go great together. I mean, who doesn't like sex? And games? I mean ... duh. Gamers should be all over this. The secret is: they are. Which is why they aren't.

As my colleague, Shannon Drake, is fond of saying, It's like that girl in the 5th grade who learned that saying "blow job" or "sex" as loudly as possible would be a good way of getting attention. Then, she smiles and walks away. She's not offering oral sex, just using the subject to satisfy her insatiable appetite for attention. The girl who actually does "put out"? She's not advertising - doesn't have to. You can find her by following the trail of satisfied customers.

Sex in games is almost always like that girl. There's no real sexy content in the offing - just attention-grabbing blue-balling. Until that changes, the subject of sex in games is dead for all intents and purposes. Rated X for "never gonna be distributed?" Yeah, it could take a while.

So what's the take-away from a two-day conference devoted entirely to the subject of two things which people supposedly enjoy, but for some reason have avoided (or been prevented from) enjoying together?

Apparently, the collected minds in San Francisco have come to the conclusion that men and women are different, and want different things. Indeed. You could have knocked me over with a feather. If you were, for some reason, angst-ridden over having missed this conference, you may now resume browsing for porn. Be sure to pause your game first.
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Offline KIrving

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Re: Will the games industry mature?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2006, 06:00:37 PM »
Comment on the Sex in Videogames conference: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/lounge/view/55826

for those too lazy to browse:

Quote
Sex in Games: Live, Clothed Girls
Russ Pitts posted on 15 Jun 2006, 02:54 PM

Apparently, the collected minds in San Francisco have come to the conclusion that men and women are different, and want different things. Indeed. You could have knocked me over with a feather. If you were, for some reason, angst-ridden over having missed this conference, you may now resume browsing for porn. Be sure to pause your game first.

Cute!

Although, I've  never really understood the whole "men and women are different, want different things etc." line.

I'm a woman who loves violent action movies, martial arts, car racing, playing halo and drinking beer. *shrugs* :)

From the feedback I saw, I think that many women don't necessarily want to be treated differently.  Perhaps both sexes are united in the desire, not so much for different games, as for better, longer, more challenging and more immersive games.

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Offline Veloxyll

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Re: Will the games industry mature?
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2006, 11:54:16 PM »
So that'd mean men are just using women to get better games! rox.
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Offline KIrving

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Re: Will the games industry mature?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2006, 04:53:44 PM »
yeah, typical, they're always trying to get something for minimal effort. ;)
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Offline jester

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Re: Will the games industry mature?
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2007, 02:35:20 PM »
Some advice from the bigwigs: http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/feature/?id=15639

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Industry pioneers discuss how to "strike it rich" in the video game business with Scott Steinberg, Managing Director of Embassy Multimedia Consultants. Sid Meier, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell (pictured), legendary designer John Romero, and Capcom founder Kenzo Tsujimoto all share their secrets for success.

any comments TBH camarilla?
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

Why spend all your day surfing for porn?




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I haven't had this much fun since... the last time.