I could write a longer, more elaborate response to Greg Costikyan’s article in the Escapist. The rant – which has little with which I would really disagree – repeats our frustrations with the banality of games, with the sense of failed promise, and with the structural problems in the game industry that may be responsible.
But instead of elaborating a long, considered answer, I’ll get to the meat of it, and what I think our job as academics, critics and writers really should be.
We need to create an audience for those games that we want to see. The problem isn’t really the developers, and only marginally is it the “suits.” It’s the gamers, the market – its educational level, its expectations, its sense of aesthetics, etc. It’s who is and is not in it, and who leaves it when they hit 20 and who stays in it. It’s about the gap between gamerly attention and broader engagement – a gap that I think is circumstantial and fixable.
Academics have spent too much time worrying about what developers think of them, and the industry both enjoyed the attention, and enjoyed picking on the academics (for all the wrong reasons). I think we need to spend more time thinking about the players than the producers, for all our sakes.
I could flesh out my thoughts here, but better that we do it via comments.