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.
Amazing article. I really loved your third point and it is so true. I spend a fair amount of my time on the official PlayStation Undergrpund forums, here, Kotaku, ps3fanboy and thesixthaxis. Most of which is on the PSU forums mainly because the community is so large and, it is a forum, not simply comments on a certain post.
I will admit that though it is the largest community, it is full of complete illiterates and "trolls". I love reading and posting there but, these people really put a dampen on my day.
It's too bad that people are too lazy and just don't care.
This site you have here has LOTS of new news and great posts (Like this one.). I love it but, the only reason I would ever rate it so low is that HORRIBLE popup fullscreen ad that redirects you to the top of the page and you have to wait for it to load. I can be half way through a post and it comes up. I HATE it.
Of all of the communities I am included in THESIXTHAXIS.com is by far the most mature. It has the best community who post meaningful, and informative comments.
This site (ps3news) should really receive more traffic. And, it may. I only interpret it as having low traffic because of the lack of comments on posts. Anyways, I loved your post. It's so true. If only we would all just grow up and be mature.
It's really sad knowing that I sat here typing all of this knowing that nobody will read this post.
Can you guys please get rid of the full screen ad? I thought that it said that if you made like 3 PlayStation 3 related posts that they would be gone? I guess I read wrong...
I will double-check the 'Registered User' ad permission settings tonight, but it is on the Forums you are seeing them while logged in or the Portal? Also, the "full-page" ads you are referring to are the ones with the green "Skip this Ad" button (AdBrite) in the upper right correct?
Update: I checked, the Registered User group is not one of the groups the fullpage ad is set to display on the Forums... so it may be you are seeing it on the Portal or when you click from Portal to Forums, assuming you are talking about the ad I described above.
i kinda dont agree with point number two in the original post - having the sound and program team at the events instead of celebrities??
I'm not saying have celebrities attend e3 or gdc to promote a game they sed 5 lines in or played for 10mins, but would you expect to see the tech guys or the sound man at a movie premiere? no you wouldnt
im not saying that because theyre not at the "forefront" of the game that they didnt put every bit of effort into the game or deserve less credit, but i dont wana see the man who created the realistic sounding footsteps in mgs4 at e3, i wana see hideo!
programming games for me is more than a hobbie or interest and obviously talking to anyone who has worked on a triple A title would be a dream come true, but narrow an idea like this down to maybe the lead programmer/artist/director etc, the guys in charge
other than that, i agree with your other points - the gaming industry DOES need a universally respected voice, and for years edge has taken that responsibility but with little support from other media and until someone can moderate online gaming immaturity to a decent degree (home has done great with their invisible mods recently) then we will just have to "deal" with it... for now