Since its primitive stages, the videogaming industry has progressed tenfold at the rate of other competitive mediums. What we’re now exposed to is vastly different to what early pioneers created, and probably what they predicted as well. As games strike that balance between art and science, it’s natural that the technology has evolved quickly and brought videogames to a point where we’re constantly trying to look to the future. We point to things such as virtual technology as the future, with the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus as examples of what entrepreneurs are trying to accomplish. In our haste to search for the answers though, we perhaps mistreat the real issues that will determine the industry’s future.
It’s all very well to get ahead of ourselves with regards to what objects will influence the way in which we play games, but it’s almost just as, if not more important to discuss and get to the bottom of some long standing stereotypes and problematic ills of the industry as it stands today. For example, can we claim forward progression if we master virtual devices but still cling onto the notion that we can only have male protagonists driving a game? Can we honestly expect the industry to move with the technology yet allow mistreatment and misrepresentation of woman involved with gaming? There’s a trend that’s been all too obvious recently in that we’re not yet at that point where equality is coming together to form something cohesive. Admittedly it’s a universal problem, one that film has dealt with for years, but that at least has seen some progress in certain areas as of late. In the videogame industry, these sorts of issues surrounding exclusion of gender and race seem to be ramping up into something worse.
As you’ve no doubt heard mentioned or studied and analysed intently, the whole Gamergate controversy has become an example of what’s holding the industry back. This is and always will be a creative medium and one held to the values of its audience moreso than any other but this is something that unless dealt with well will set the industry back decades instead of forwards alongside the technology that’s advancing at rate of knots.
The objectification of women and the stereotyping of race is nothing new to the creative arts. It’s something that a certain demographic will always see in terms of very black or very white, yet it needs to be addressed sensibly. Firstly, anybody has the right to an opinion even if you disagree with it. However, there’s a difference between holding a differing opinion and being vindictive and nasty. When you enter the latter into a discussion it will always result in something negative and something that escalates into borderline criminality. When you have the former, a mashing of two purposeful opinions, then you create two perspectives that can both enlighten and entertain in kind. The problem is that a very vocal minority use social media to spread hatred and perpetuate hostility, particularly towards female journalists.
In order to get through this there are several avenues to take. Perhaps the most important is everyone reading those cancerous comments to realise that no-one should be treated in such a vile manner. However, fire often sparks more fire. Rather than use our words to react in kind to these people, we should use our words to prove that we are more intelligent, well-rounded people who deserve better. Instead of reacting violently, we should invite people to spread the word to relevant authorities. In the UK, trolling is being given a severe look-into with potential jail time attached and the reason for this is because people complained to the police and to the authorities. Bottom line is that we as consumers and advocates for the artistic merits and freedoms of videogames and journalism should be using the same methods as trolls to come together in unity. There’s a reason the vocal minority shine through despite their lack of numbers – but if we came forward in even a tenth of the droves that they come out in then eventually we can usurp them as the only voices worth listening to.
Obviously, this isn’t to take away from the hurt that people have and will cause. Nobody envies the way in which female journalists have been treated recently. The observation is always that they are being victimised and deserve better, but as a large community who want to see these people equally represented and not afraid to say what they think, we must stand up alongside them in times of need and reject what is being brazenly shouted across a grubby monitor.
The craft of videogame journalism is constantly in flux. Ask professionals all over the world what they definition is and they’ll have somewhat different perspectives. However, the future of videogame journalism will mature alongside the games themselves as it has visibly done already. We can aid this and combat the sticking point of the industry as it stands by letting everyone have a pedestal and not having them be scared to stand upon it. When we as an industry come together, united and ready to face our greatest adversary, much like the heroes we love playing, then we’ll reach a platform upon which the videogame industry can flourish, journalism evolving rapidly alongside the artistic merits of innovative individuals and the technology that studios can bring to the fore.
The future of the videogame industry can definitely be a bright point in our upcoming cultural identity. If we profess to love the industry then we’ll do anything to protect the integrity of the opinions offering advances into the way we think about videogames. Only through critical thinking can videogames prosper and that’s something we should look to protect and add to whenever possible.