We had a stupid busy time last week, launching the GameCityPrize for this year, planning stuff for 2013 and then closing with a guest post on the Guardian Culture Professionals Network.
Matt improved my original post greatly with some very sympathetic editing, but there was one passage I missed that had to be excised for length. I thought might help to illustrate the point I was trying to make previously and which Ekow spoke about during the debate on Wednesday. Matt said it would be okay for me to post the cut section here, so…
The idea behind our work was to explore a simple idea : that games are made by people. Sound obvious I know, but it’s something not immediately evident if you stand in front of the shelves at your local game store. It’s weird, and it wasn’t always like this – but unlike pretty much every other creative profession, the mainstream videogame industry obfuscates the human face of its creative talent with remarkable efficiency. We know who writes our books, who makes our movies, who writes our songs – but with a few notable exceptions, we have no idea who makes our games. It’s a terrible waste of a rich resource. Parents, politicians, everyone would all be a lot less suspicious of videogames if the people that made them had their PR gags loosened every once in a while. My favourite example of this is the recently released ‘Director’s Cut’ of British Developer Revolution Software’s brilliant adventure game ‘Broken Sword ; The Shadow of the Templar’s’. It’s a wonderfully literate game, reissued by borrowing the movie industry shorthand for authentic quality, ‘Director’s Cut’. Sadly, however the identity of the Director isn’t mentioned anywhere in the marketing materials. (For the record, the Director is the brilliant Charles Cecil. Look his work up, you’d like it. )
There’s an quiet undercurrent of defensive apology running just underneath the surface of the mainstream industry which is most easily detected when it’s expressing it’s cultural value in the World. More often than not, the principle index of this is fiscal. The opening-weekend numbers for a Call of Duty/ Halo / Angry Birds franchise release are indeed staggering and usually prompt headline claims from insiders that videogames are now ‘bigger than hollywood’, or that they are now ‘truly mainstream’. The problem of course, is that they’re not.