Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
08 March 2006
12-Step programs never work
At the Game Marketing Conference, John Geoghegan (fomerly VP of marketing and sales at LucasArts) gave 12 steps to putting the videogame industry in a better light. Some of them, unsurprisingly, are bogus.

The first one is:
Promote the ratings system. We've got a good system by the ESRB, make sure people know about it. It worked for movies, the recording industry and TV. It can work for us. Parents don't know about it.
Until the ESRB grows some teeth and a backbone, the current system is a sham. They had a chance with Rockstar last year, and they pretty much blew it. I wouldn't go prancing around flashing an ESRB badge just yet.
Evangelize the benefits of videogames. Book: Everything Bad is Good for You, by Stephen Johnson. Videogames not only help children to compete more effectively, they make kids more intelligent. Videogames involve data pattern recognition, and tracking multiple characters in multiple storylines. They require sustained concentration and complex problem solving. Also, games are interactive, not passive like music or reading. There's more open-ended gameplay than ever before. Johnson shows videogames teach the brain to process information that conventional media doesn't, and prepares kids for the way our world is evolving. It teaches kids to concentrate, learn, and problem solve. We need to tell the world about this.
This is the same hokum that I discussed previously. If we don't accept the questionable studies that people use to connect videogame to violence, we shouldn't then turn around and tout benefits from a popular book that are hardly proven, even if we believe them.

Preach moderation and promote good parenting. Remind parents moderation in all things, including videogames, is important. You're responsible as parents to oversee this.
Right, the Not My Problem Defense. Hey, all you schmuck parents, quit making it so hard for the videogame industry!

Moving on:
Benchmark against sex and violence in prime network TV and movies. I don't think videogames have cornered the market on sex and violence.
How about we benchmark the number of games with stories and characters as good as NYPD Blue? Or The X-Files? Or, how about just The Andy Griffith Show? (Don't like my picks? Fine. Take your own favorite TV show and ask if a game has done as well.) Benchmarking against TV might net you some points on sex and violence, but videogames still don't live up to the standards of decent TV.

I'm AWOL for a few days. Keep an eye on Ruffin and JohnH.
--Matt Matthews at 20:58
Comment [ 1 ]

Comments on this post:

The benchmark comment reminds me of how broken TV violence counts are broken.

I remember "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr" once being labelled one of the most violent shows on broadcast TV. The group making the list would take one episode of each series, count every single "act of violence" regardless of context, and presented it as indicative of the entire season.

The Brisco County Jr episode showed just how worthless the list was though. It was an episode involving riverboat boxing, and they had counted every punch separately. Thus the show was labelled one of the most violent shows on television, because one episode had had a boxing theme.

By Anonymous Baines, at 09 March, 2006 22:05  

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