Much attention was paid when “Schwarzenegger v. EMA” went before the Supreme Court a few months ago. Both mainstream and game enthusiast outlets from all over analyzed the events leading up to Leland Yee’s drafting of the controversial legislation.
John Teti, editor of the AV Club’s Games section, takes a radically different angle. Instead of looking how the games industry has been portrayed or acted upon, he analyzed how it’s presented itself in the marketplace of ideas. Writing for Eurogamer, Teti argues that the prime movers of the video games business have focused more on financial consideration than on advancing the cultural merits of the medium:
The communications officers who control the information flow at major studios – those companies who form the public’s perception of gaming’s craft, whether we like it or not – operate a machine built on short-term thinking. Their primary goal is to sell as many copies of Game X on release day before moving on, immediately, to Game Y.
This mentality leads to the cycle of information you all know well. A game is announced with a splashy trailer. The press sees the game in bite-sized preview sessions where every other sentence we hear is, “We’re not talking about that yet.” A big advertising push drums a bullet-point list of new “features” into everybody’s skulls.
Then the game comes out. The Metascore is tabulated, the sales figures are tallied and the marketing machine marches forward, ever forward, to the next conquest.
This attitude leads to schizophrenic double-talk like the one EA mustered during the “Medal of Honor” brouhaha (which Teti also mentions). Y’know, the “it’s just a game/we’re an artform” nonsense? Motivational confusion like this leads to other entities having to fight battles that the games medium itself should be totally equipped to fight. Multimillion dollar marketing campaigns for annual “Call of Duty” titles or the latest “Madden NFL” release only win smaller battles, but there’s still a culture war that being waged. And the hearts and minds won on that battlefield may pay off more than record profits.