April 1st, 2006

Game Developers Rant About State of the Industry at GDC

A traditional panel session at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) gives developers an opportunity to unabashedly rant on what they feel is wrong with the industry. Audience members can ask questions (or argue back), and the leadership of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) often draws upon the issues raised during the discussions to help shape organizational goals.

This year's lively session, Burn,Baby Burn: Game Developers Rant, featured several industry notables who aired their gripes before a crowd of roughly 500 onlookers.

Conference attendee (and super-speedy typist) Alice Taylor has posted her notes (nearly a word-for- word transcript) from the hour-long session at her Wonderland blog. It's a long and profanity-laden read but it's fun and bound to get you talking. Here are a few excerpts:

Seamus Blackley, Creative Artists Agency: We don't HAVE a good business around most of the ideas we wanna make... I'm trying to figure out how to make a biz out of this stuff. Look at Brokeback Mountain. It's killing everything. Hollywood will just piss out money on these wonderful ideas... what they have figured out is how to build a business around the great ideas that make movies like westerns with gay cowboys. We can't do this - why not? We don't have an Oscars. We don't have an academy... We need to figure out a way for there to be a business justification for everything we hear about in the Fairmont lobby, if we did that we'd triple the biz overnight.

Jonathan Blow, programmer/designer: So, why do we feel like games need innovation to be good? Innovation acts as a shiny thing to distract us from the fact that our games are not compelling, once you get used to them. If you're young and are new to games, they're great... but after a while, we see that what we are doing as players is not particularly meaningful....We need to make games that people care about so much, they can't not play them.

AE: The original text of Blow's rant, as well as the slides he used during his segment, can be viewed at his website.

Chris Crawford (pictured, author of On Game Design) and GDC founder: I have to tell ya, there's nothing better that can be done because the games industry is D.E.A.D. Now when I say dead, I don't mean totally dead, I mean brain-dead. The product is going out the door, money is coming in. But what's up here? Nothing. There's no creativity. There's no creative life in this industry at all. It's just a dead creature.

-Reporting from San Diego, GP Correspondent - and live creature - Andrew Eisen

(no subject)

How long will it be until the "influence of violent games" argument is finally put to rest? Years, according to experts at this week's Clash of Realities: Computerspiele und Soziale Wirklichkeit (Computer Games and Social Reality) conference in Cologne, Germany.

Tilo Hartmann, a researcher at the University of Southern California, criticized past studies that examined the possible link between playing violent games and real-world aggressive behavior for not going the distance. Currently, the longest study done in Germany lasted only one year. Hartmann maintains that a study producing the necessary results would have to last three to four years. He also believes that the psychological profile of the subjects must be factored into the research.

That's an important point. GamePolitics readers may recall, for example, that the so-called "GTA Killer" Devin Moore came from a broken home, had a drug-addicted, absentee mother and a severely abusive father. Yet critics claim that video games pushed him over the edge.

"It would be absolutely stupid to suppose that computer games alone cause outbreaks of aggression. One must always question what happens in the person's life and what other media they have access to. There are certain risk groups, for example children from broken homes, or players who are repeatedly confronted with violence. The behavior has a very complicated effect structure, and we are now only beginning to scratch the surface. We must find out even more and then start going into depth."

"Of course, there are many factors which work subliminal on the players and influence them unconsciously," adds Christoph Klimmt, a scientist at the Institute of Journalism and Communications Research at Hanover's College for Music and Theater. "But not everyone who plays a 'killer' game would be able to stand the stress of a real murder. Computer players have a distinctive reality management and know exactly what is reality and what is play."

Read the full article at DW-World.

-Reporting from San Diego, GP Correspondent Andrew Eisen