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