Christopher Weaver (left), co-founder of highly-respected game studio Bethesa Softworks (Elder Scrolls: Oblivion), pens a fascinating op-ed for Next Generation.
Weaver was responding to an earlier Next Gen story detailing a planned mobile phone game, Office Massacre. In speaking out he joins the likes of Warren Spector and Doug Lowenstein in counseling the video game industry to be more prudent in its content choices. Weaver writes, in part:
"The rank stupidity of the people who brought us the Hot Coffee scandal was bad enough... Now comes another bunch of idiots who do not understand the first thing about social responsibility... When will we learn?"
Don't get the impression Weaver favors censorship. He once sued Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and the National Institute on Media and the Family over the inclusion of Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall on a list of ten worst (i.e. - most violent) games. As Weaver continues:
"I am not saying that we should limit our imaginations only to safe areas. But creativity demands that we can do better than copying tragic life events for crass entertainment. Nor am I suggesting we roll over and cater to every self-anointed group who claims that right is on their side. Such people are often very wrong as well."
"So, when I tell you that I believe we as an industry need to be aware of our perception by the public and government, I tell you with personal investment in protecting your freedom to be creative and not kowtow to everyone with an opinion."
"The games industry has grown large enough that it is perceived very differently today than it was even ten years ago. Along with burgeoning financial might comes social responsibility. If we as an industry fail to look carefully at what we do... then someone else will do it for us."
"And in case you think we are somehow protected by (the ESA), even the likes of... Doug Lowenstein can't make gold out of things like office shooting sprees... What comes next, Virtual Columbine?"
GP: There is both wisdom and credibility to what Weaver is saying. Perhaps not coincidentally, Next Gen also reports today that developer Alten8 has scrubbed plans for Office Massacre.