IPcentral Weblog
  The DACA Blog

Saturday, May 3, 2008

When gamers go mainstream
(previous | next)

What happens as gamers grow older and become a more dominant voice in society? UK game developer Richard Bartle has some thoughts on that issue in an acerbic, in-your-face editorial in the UK Guardian this week:

I'm talking to you, you self-righteous politicians and newspaper columnists, you relics who beat on computer games: you've already lost. Enjoy your carping while you can, because tomorrow you're gone. According to the UK Statistics Authority, the median age of the UK population is 39. Half the people who live here were born in 1969 or later. The BBC microcomputer was released in 1981, when those 1969ers were 12. It was ubiquitous in schools; it introduced a generation to computers. It introduced a generation to computer games. Half the UK population has grown up playing computer games. They aren't addicted, they aren't psychopathic killers, and they resent those boneheads – that's you – who imply that they are addicted and are psychopathic killers. Next year, that 1969 will be 1970; the year after, it'll be 1971.

Dwell on this, you smug, out-of-touch, proud-to-be-innumerate fossils: half the UK population thinks games are fun and cool, and you don't. Those born in 1990 get the vote this year. Three years from now, that 1969 will be 1972, then 1973. Scared yet? You should be: we have the numbers on our side. Do your worst – you can't touch us. We've already won. 15 years from now, the prime minister of the day will have grown up playing computer games, just as 15 years ago we had the first prime minister to have grown up watching television, and 30 years ago to have grown up listening to the radio. Times change: accept it; embrace it. Don't make yourself look even more 20th Century, even more public school, than you do already. You've lost! Understand? Your time has passed.

Although I'm not sure I would have used Mr. Bartle's smug approach to make this point, the fact is, for the most part, he's got it right. Gamers and games are going mainstream. They are becoming an increasingly important and respected part of modern media culture. Once considered merely kid's stuff, games are now rightly consider an important artistic medium, with rich narratives, astonishing graphics, beautiful soundtracks, and so on.

And, as Mr. Bartle suggests, as we games age and become an increasing proportion of society, public perceptions and public policy discussion about games should begin to change, too. I think things will unfold very much the same way they did for rock-and-roll with the current generation of social & political leaders. That is, although we still hear some criticism about rock music at the margins, we don't hear people generally indicting the entire art form, as many critics did in the 50s and 60s. So, by the time 2020 rolls around--perhaps sooner--I suspect that games and gamers will be getting a lot more respect throughout our culture. At least I hope that is the case.

posted by Adam Thierer @ 10:05 AM | Free Speech

Share |

Link to this Entry | Printer-Friendly

Post a Comment:

Blog Main
RSS Feed  
Recent Posts
  EFF-PFF Amicus Brief in Schwarzenegger v. EMA Supreme Court Videogame Violence Case
New OECD Study Finds That Improved IPR Protections Benefit Developing Countries
Hubris, Cowardice, File-sharing, and TechDirt
iPhones, DRM, and Doom-Mongers
"Rogue Archivist" Carl Malamud On How to Fix Gov2.0
Coping with Information Overload: Thoughts on Hamlet's BlackBerry by William Powers
How Many Times Has Michael "Dr. Doom" Copps Forecast an Internet Apocalypse?
Google / Verizon Proposal May Be Important Compromise, But Regulatory Trajectory Concerns Many
Two Schools of Internet Pessimism
GAO: Wireless Prices Plummeting; Public Knowledge: We Must Regulate!
Archives by Month
  September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
  - (see all)
Archives by Topic
  - A La Carte
- Add category
- Advertising & Marketing
- Antitrust & Competition Policy
- Appleplectics
- Books & Book Reviews
- Broadband
- Cable
- Campaign Finance Law
- Capitalism
- Capitol Hill
- China
- Commons
- Communications
- Copyright
- Cutting the Video Cord
- Cyber-Security
- Digital Americas
- Digital Europe
- Digital Europe 2006
- Digital TV
- E-commerce
- e-Government & Transparency
- Economics
- Education
- Electricity
- Energy
- Events
- Exaflood
- Free Speech
- Gambling
- General
- Generic Rant
- Global Innovation
- Googlephobia
- Googlephobia
- Human Capital
- Innovation
- Intermediary Deputization & Section 230
- Internet
- Internet Governance
- Internet TV
- Interoperability
- IP
- Local Franchising
- Mass Media
- Media Regulation
- Monetary Policy
- Municipal Ownership
- Net Neutrality
- Neutrality
- Non-PFF Podcasts
- Ongoing Series
- Online Safety & Parental Controls
- Open Source
- PFF Podcasts
- Philosophy / Cyber-Libertarianism
- Privacy
- Privacy Solutions
- Regulation
- Search
- Security
- Software
- Space
- Spectrum
- Sports
- State Policy
- Supreme Court
- Taxes
- The FCC
- The FTC
- The News Frontier
- Think Tanks
- Trade
- Trademark
- Universal Service
- Video Games & Virtual Worlds
- VoIP
- What We're Reading
- Wireless
- Wireline
Archives by Author
PFF Blogosphere Archives
We welcome comments by email - look for a link to the author's email address in the byline of each post. Please let us know if we may publish your remarks.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation