Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The next bit (you see, I *was* getting to a point! There's still more though...) :

What is to be done? Applying a public broadcasting model to games

In his recent article “We need a corporation for public gaming”, David Rejeski argues that:

Non-commercial television floundered, despite millions of dollars of investment by the Ford Foundation, until the government stepped in and created a viable and long-lasting alternative. With similar vision and foresight, and a relatively small amount of funding, something similar could happen with video and computer games.

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. Like CPB, the goal of the CPG would be to provide high-quality games, which “inform, enlighten and enrich the public”

Rejeski primarily addresses the problem of funding so-called “serious games”: games that are primarily made for non-entertainment purposes, in the US. His call to apply the public broadcasting model to games, however, is equally applicable to the goal of supporting the creation of high quality, culturally relevant games made with purely cultural and aesthetic goals in mind (like most games).

It is the ability to ensure the delivery of local cultural content that makes public broadcasting all the more important for a society like Australia, rendering Rejeski's argument even more compelling in an Australian context. For instance, where would Australian music be today if a quota system hadn't revived it? Would Australian film exist at all without bodies like the AFC? What about the ABC and SBS? We all know that the bigger the influence of risk-taking, intelligent and high quality public television, the higher the bar is for free-to-air commercial television (compare UK to France, Australia to New Zealand). Australia's strong and vibrant (albeit under attack) culture of public broadcasting is another reason why the public broadcasting model is even more relevant in Australia.

That the game industry churns out cynically derivative and uninspiring pulp should be no surprise. That's what often happens to popular culture that is left entirely to the mercy of the free market. Nobody should be surprised that it has happened to games.

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