Monday, October 09, 2006

Next part of the essay draft.

When Sony, EA, Nintendo, talk about “artistry”, “creativity” and bemoan the lack of film-industry equivalent “auteurs” [needs reference], it is the game development community itself that greets these PR comments with the most cynicism. Imagine what McDonald’s employees are thinking when they hear their bosses making public statements about the fast food giant’s commitment to children’s health, and you’ll have a fair idea about how many of us feel. [quote from Scratchware Manifesto: “EA asks: where are the Tarantinos? They are working for you and you are killing them.”]

The Newsweek article quoted above was essentially a sort of dialogue between Jack Kroll and a collection of business executives and marketing men. Game designers themselves are, for the most part, faceless corporate employees who have no voice whatsoever within public discourse.
When it comes to the important questions around the role of games in society posed in major public forums (Newsweek, for instance, as opposed to academic or trade journals), it is CEOs and charismatic PR representatives who do the talking on our behalf; they have the “official” say and are the ones that have the loudest voice on the cultural world stage.

Take this recent article in Esquire, for example:
(Klosterman’s article “Why is There No Lester Bangs for Games?”) [reference, explain]
Again, a couple of prominent currents that somewhat shook the world of games criticism in recent years – “New Games Journalism” [reference] and the launch of “The Escapist” [reference] - were passed by completely unnoticed by a respected journalist who presumably did at least some research for this feature article. Many in the game industry, and in game journalism circles in particular, were dumbfounded, but it was merely yet another example of how progressive ideological currents within the world of game development are being drowned out by the industry’s powerful, controlling public relations apparatus.

The voices of the progressive currents within the game industry are rarely heard within the industry, let alone outside it. They are drowned out by the white noise of the industry’s massive marketing machine. The games media complains that it often has no choice but to talk to assigned PR representatives, while individual developers are under strict instructions not to talk - not even to discuss their work on internet forums - for fear of being in breach of their employment conditions. There is little public support for alternative voices (as compared to public broadcasting, support for independent film making [flesh out]) and they are barely given a chance to participate in a larger social discourse. Public policy makers give an audience to businessmen and employer groups than developers.

In an increasingly corporate-dominated public sphere, will history even register the people striving to advance aesthetic discourse, simply because they lack a marketing budget big enough to make themselves heard?

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