An Adolescent Industry: Refining the Medium

The video game industry is in its adolescence, struggling to form an identity, to fit in, and to be accepted. I’m sure you’ve read something along those lines before, but it seems that the number of people who preach in favor of, and really work towards, its growth are in the minority.

This is a difficult environment for us, the writers to operate in. We are always at risk of becoming disjointed and out of touch with our audience, because as we grow, our tastes mature. We become more mature, and in some cases, “jaded.” Our experience shows itself, sometimes manipulating our words to cater only to those who are in the same late-stage fan-dom as ourselves. Are our tastes cultured? Do we want more from our industry? Are we more ready for the next stage of development than others?

You see, as this industry is indeed very new, so too are entire WAVES of fans. They are already of a younger generation, with some different opinions about what really makes games. This means that our audience may not match our experience, and in some cases, our level of maturity (not just general maturity, but a refinement of taste, molded by experience) as we look at the products of the industry.

This is especially true of the online community (maybe even some of you reading this right now, but please don’t take offense. I respect every one of you for your dedication, and the fact that you’re even reading this). An older crowd — even as young as their mid-twenties — may not frequent online video game publications with the same verve as the generally worry-free teenager. That could mean a full decade between some writers and some readers.

Will those writers who (at times) wish to very seriously discuss the things they are passionate about have to wait for the audience to catch up, in terms of maturity and experience? Many journalists have been playing video games for 20 years now, and have witnessed, firsthand, the evolution of the industry. To put that in perspective, the PlayStation 2 era began just 7 years ago — about a third of that time.

So, I have been throwing around the word “mature,” which is likely to turn some people off. I don’t intend to say that a lack of maturity is a strike against someone, but that those individuals are still developing — developing their tastes and opinions. A fruit grows ripe with time, as does a gamer’s outlook on the industry.

(Unfortunately, the “mature” rating of the ESRB has twisted the apparent meaning of the word, but that’s not necessarily their fault, and is also a topic for a different discussion.)

Back to the relevant stuff. Take the movie business, for example. It has been around for a long time — dating back to the mid to late 1800s. This is 2008. So about a century and a half later, we want our medium to be on the same page as its predecessor? Of course it doesn’t help that the general public wants to constantly pigeonhole video games as “kids toys.” (That’s where my proposal to rename these things comes into play.)

We, as writers (the “old-timers”) can sometimes be like that overbearing father figure who pushes his eight-year-old to be a competitive, flame-armed quarterback, practicing for the “big game” (which, incidentally, comes a decade later, or never at all) when all the kid wants to do is go play with his friends. I don’t EVER want to be that guy, and I feel that our job as writers, journalists, etc. is to gently but firmly guide the industry in the right direction, and possibly help to enlighten some of our newest converts to some of the ideals of our community.

Video games have the potential to surpass other forms of entertainment (movies) in every way. We are on our way, too. Believe that. We are just in our adolescence, and the transition requires a bit of time and effort.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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