Game Politics (gamepolitics) wrote,
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PBS Model for Gaming?

Does gaming need an alternative to its traditional commercial funding model?

David Rejeski (left), Director of the Foresight and Governance Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, says yes, citing another pop cultural whipping-boy, television, as the prime example of how such a system might work.

"In 1967, President Johnson signed legislation to establish the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), asserting that 'we have only begun to grasp the great promise of the medium' and noting that noncommercial television was reaching only 'a fraction of its potential audience - and a fraction of its potential worth.'"

"As part of the legislation,
" Rejeski continued, "the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was to launch major research on instructional television in the classroom. The $9 million investment in CPB in 1967 (about $47 million in today's dollars) has grown to over $300 million in annual funding today."

There is a growing call for non-commercial games. In recent times GamePolitics has reported ourselves on documentary games, games used in health care and even corporate and political satire - but these are very much the exception.

Public funding of games would, in Rejeski's view, be workable.

"A Corporation for Public Gaming (CPG) could be established that would operate on a model similar to its broadcasting equivalent, providing grants to develop a diversity of games for the public good."

Of course, if without broad congressional support for such an entity - unlikely in today's game-bashing political climate - there are other ways, according to Rejeski.

"An alternative model would be to support serious games within the existing Corporation for Public Broadcasting, by increasing the appropriation and changing the allocation formula from the 75-25 percent split between television and radio to one that reflected the additional funding for games."

The United Kingdom has probably the best example of public television in the world, in the form of the BBC. Thus "Alice" of popular UK games blog Wonderland fame - has tried applying Rejeski's theories to the BBC. In her eyes, at least, the model works.

This isn't to say a gaming initiative by the BBC would really work - one look at the frankly diabolical Fightbox, an attempt by the BBC to fuse gaming and T.V. together, tells us that. But given how television viewing is in decline, can the BBC afford not to approach the medium?

-reporting from the U.K., GP international correspondent Mark Kelly

Tags: alice, bbc, corporation for public gaming, david rejeski, wonderland, woodrow wilson international center for
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Something like this would probably be best served as applying government funds to the Open Source movement.

It'll be decades before it happens though. Microsoft and other publishers would fight it with everything they had, as would the Jacks out there. Plus there are so many other things out there competing for tax dollars.
This is pretty much like communism or a threesome: Sounds good on paper, never works in reality.

Support to Open Source factions and to minor publishing houses would be the real way to go if they wanted to promote such an approach.
While I do agree it might not be possible it still should be stated that a communist threesome is awesome.
I'm all for giving funding to the open source movement, as the two above has said
This would be sort of cool, but would the games be like. Would they be "edutaining"?
Hey, maybe if Open Source things start receiving funding... We might see a REAL update to Zdoom sometime within the next... Yeah... Something like that...
HELL NO!!! The last thing any country needs is more government intrusion into and sponsorship of entertainment, and the eventual creation of whole new ways to create corruption (want to find corruption anywhere ... follow the trail of "free" government money), and a new venue to spread narrowly focused political and social ideologies ... usually leftist ... all at the taxpayer's expense.

I'm totally in support of folks creating games for non-commerical purposes, or non-profits creating games to support their political and social views. Heck, I'm even on board with the U.S. gov't sponsoring America's Army as a marketing tool for the military.

But in an era where we need to find ways for governments to spend LESS money and become LESS involved in our lives, funding something like the Corporation for Public Gaming just seems like just another liberal's idea for wealth redistribution.

OK ... rant done. Calming down.
Agreed. I just want the man to keep his nose outta my business and his sticky fingers outta my wallet. This would put both of those appendages in both of those things. F that.
Not for 10 or 20 years and even then what we realy need is better Online distrobustion of games ,soemthign like steam but with a fully working offline mode,if steam ever bothers to fix thiers great but thier to busy with other thigns it seems.
You mean that thing women get once a month?
That's PMS.

Re: PBS?

awel_cruiz

12 years ago

For a minute there, I thought that was Jeff Foxsworthy.
This has to be one of the worst well-intentioned ideas in relation to gaming I've come across. I wonder what the fine folks at the Cato Institute think of this one?

Seriously though, I really don't believe that the market needs any government help, especially with all those nice government strings attached. I really think that the government should stick to making games on the side when they have a real advantage to be gained from it (America's Army), not funding products that couldn't make it in the open market, as the CPB does. At any rate, where would the incentive be? I assume these games would be free, but even then, where would the advantage to taxpayers be? I suppose that funding to open-source software would be a better idea if they're just so damn determined to spend money in this area, but it would have to come with no strings attached.
... ehh, almost as stupid as the NEA or the concept behind PBS. Why isn't that channel dead by now? Even its main strength - children's programming - is quickly being replaced by much more popular basic cable offerings.

Well, actually, I know the answer - political pressure from a few SIGs that advocate state-sponsored cultural influence and the general apathetic support by people who don't think the CPB is a big drain on the federal budget (and admittedly, it isn't) and that PBS every now and then does something right. It's kind of like how anti-smoking laws get passed - non-smokers simply see something that's annoying and potentially hazardous and are given a trivially easy vote to do away with it, and soon it's to the point that some cities outlaw smoking in privately owned bars. I don't smoke and I'm not extremely against PBS, but I can't stand seeing taxpayer money used in an attempt to manipulate the society that those same taxpayers are living in.

I'm generally against *public* funding of OSS projects, too, because in the past, commercial entities have supported popular noncommercial projects. A great gaming example of this is Counter-Strike; a more general example of this is Google's Summer of Code. When the motive is profit, rather than pleasing a politician's district or saving a seat, only the things that show potential for profit (and therefore for widespread use and applicability, typically) are boosted.
I love how people always gloss over the games like Crosscountry Canada, or Treasure Mountain, or uhh.. Mathblasters, or that other one with the riddles in the school exist and are educational. Hell, I think the original Cross Country Canada was funded by or for the Ontario ministry of education, and I'd literally stay after school to play it. Even though we never had the booklets explaining what cargo you could get where, and it would inevitably wind up with you driving around randomly typing 'get cargo' in every city.
There is a difference between fusing "gaming and T.V. together" and actually developing games though. Reading the description of Fightbox, it seems like something a hardcore person might enjoy, but not a casual gamer, or a casual TV watcher.

However the idea of PBS developing games is interesting. They would be educational, as so many PBS programs are, and give the uppity Senators and Congresspeople a chance to put their money where their mouths are and combat games like GTA with wholesome, educational, family entertainment instead of drafting some useless piece of legislation. (Yeah runon sentence, go me.)

I would imagine though that in order to reach the widest possible audience that these would have to be computer games, as more people own personal computers than any of the three major platforms (GCN, PS/PS2, xBox) combined, although the number of people who own a console is certainlly growing.

Many people, myself included, remember with fondness, the trials and tribulations of trying to get your family across the dangerous Oregon Trail. I don't see why a PBS gaming division couldn't produce equally memorable games for todays youngsters.
I would imagine though that in order to reach the widest possible audience that these would have to be computer games, as more people own personal computers than any of the three major platforms (GCN, PS/PS2, xBox) combined, although the number of people who own a console is certainlly growing.

Not only that, but it'd be easier to make since you wouldn't have to port it to different consoles, and could easily be made available online.

Many people, myself included, remember with fondness, the trials and tribulations of trying to get your family across the dangerous Oregon Trail.

Ah, yes, I too remember trying to get to Oregon. Of course, I stopped playing once it was no onger challenging, but it was good times.
Sorry to go off topic, but why the heck does this entry, from 4/21, appear BEFORE the entry on 4/20 on my friends page? Something's screwy here....
Just to clarify, the entry dates on my friends page go like thus:

4/19
4/19
4/21 (this article)
4/20
4/20
4/21
4/21
etc

(Well, actually they're listed newest at top of course, but you get the drift)