They tell me that you have a short attention span. They say that you’re shallow, narcissistic… a sucker for a pretty face. Some even swear that you’re content to be spoon-fed. All this and more, we heard on the long, hard road to launch. Luckily, per usual (just ask the wife), we were too stubborn to dial it back. Hey, change is good, right? But nobody knows better than today’s video game enthusiast. So ask yourself – why do so many still insist on talking down to us?
Case in point: It took several decades, but we’ve finally begun to do away with the stereotypes. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), nearly seven in ten American households play computer and video games today. The average enthusiast is 35 years old, and 40% of fans are female, with adult women a larger segment of the joystick-waggling population than teenage males. So pause here and give yourself a round of applause. Now indulge us for a moment by taking a long, hard look in the mirror and asking yourself: Is that all we’re content to accomplish? Because as forward progress goes, let’s be frank… Culturally, as an industry, we’re still largely mired in the Dark Ages.
Television shows that treat vapid models, second-rate stand-ups and ostentatious awards as objects of veneration. Row upon row (OK, more like three slots at the newsstand – these Interwebs are huge with the kids, we hear) of glossy magazines dripping with zombies, robots, ninjas and other juvenile memes. Blogs awash in images cheap gewgaws designed to shamelessly worship at the altar of fandom. From software publishers whose products obsequiously play to the lowest common denominator to entire networks devoted to exploiting female gamers, really… It’s all starting to look like one big minstrel show.
No pretentiousness here: As with countless millions, we too embraced these elements of gaming culture and reveled in them in our youth. But like equally many others, we also watched a decade pass and new chapters come with it, as dating turned into marriage, academics into careers and a life of idle leisure into parenthood. Only the pretty machine’s wheels never stopped turning, cranking out the same shallow byproduct. In other words, we slowly grew up, as did game creators – somehow, the dialogue didn’t. Worse, what all those salacious headlines and glowing pictorials seldom offer is a truly informed perspective: That of the games industry itself.
To this extent, we’ve decided not to break the fourth wall. Instead, we’re shattering it entirely. Enter Game Theory, the first online video show and magazine to give the video game industry a public voice, and provide readers/viewers with an inside window into this fascinating business. Here, you won’t just find a more analytical and opinionated take on key issues and individuals that shape the field. You’ll also hear directly from today’s top designers, executives, journalists and scholars themselves, who provide expert-level analysis and insight, couched within the context of intelligent conversation and a (we hope) lively sense of humor. Pop culture, not pedantry, remains the chosen prism through which our observations are filtered, as we strive to provide everyday fans with a more holistic view of the industry.
Make no mistakes, however. To paraphrase rapper Keith Murray, we’re dead serious, even though you see us smiling. Because the mandate is simple: Don’t patronize. Credit our friends Will Wright, Sid Meier and Dani Bunten Berry for that one. Bottom line – get ready for a gut check, because it’s time to ask some hard questions. For example: When will we finally wake up and recognize that the business has fundamentally changed? How many times can execs parrot the same meaningless stats and not be called to task? And – says the Internet’s most loudmouthed gaming pundit himself – why are analysts, precious few of whom have ever published games, currently afforded so much power? (Doc Holliday had it right: Our hypocrisy knows no bounds.)
Oh, and just because you’ll see me pop up a couple places, don’t get it twisted either. This one’s a team effort. Bjorn Larsson, Chris Tsambis, Olly Quinn and Tracy Peterson refused to give you less than the best. Happily, it’s a philosophy seconded by Eden Soto, Katie Berfield, Imoto Harney, Stacy Miles, Steve Willis, Chris Morris, Hal Halpin, Trip Hawkins, Alex St. John and too many others to thank here.
But enough screwing around – what are you waiting for? Lines are now open. After three decades of letting others tell your story, it’s finally time to rewrite the script. So kindly allow me to pass the microphone. For now and forevermore, it’s your turn to speak up and be heard.
Special thanks to David Francis, Keith Elam, Kris Ramac, Eric Knipp, Ted Nathan, Paul Scigliano, Josh Humphries, Josh Levetan, Duval Clear, Fabulous Furlough, Frédéric Schmitt, Chris Zimmerman, Erik Schrody, N. Paul, Todd Anthony Shaw and Olivier Duran for inspiration.