Anti-Censorship - Key Points
These 10 "key points" are meant to remind game developers of the importance and impact of their creative endeavors. Some of the points may seem overly obvious to most developers, but chances are that those not part of the industry are much less informed on the facts.
Note that each point is only scratching the surface of a hotly debated topic – further study and exploration is recommended via the links provided.
Disclaimer: These points are provided for edification purposes only. All media/press inquiries should be sent to the IGDA press contact.
1. A Medium of Expression
Video games are emerging as the leading art form of the 21st century. Through video games, developers impart their vision of fantastical worlds, characters and adventure – and include commentary on the state of the human condition. Further, through their interactivity, games are in essence co-authored by the game player as they navigate the play space and experience the narrative arc of a game.
- “Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution” by Steven Poole
- IGDA Amicus Brief in Support of ESA St-Louis Appeal (pdf)
2. An Artful and Complex Endeavor
Game creation is a massively complex mix of science and art. From software engineers to script writers to animators to music composers, there is a great need for talented, creative and educated individuals that must work in unison to see a game become a reality. In step with the growing need for talent, universities and colleges worldwide are implementing game development courses and degree programs.
- Gamasutra.com – The Art & Science of Making Games
- “Game Design: The Art and Business of Creating Games” By Bob Bates
- IGDA Breaking In web resource
3. A Diverse Audience
Unlike the stereotypical pimpled teen male, game players represent a diverse mix of age, gender and cultural background. Like other forms of art and entertainment, there is content with themes targeted at those diverse audiences. From the cute cartoon game for the kiddies to seedy city streets, and everything in between, there is a game to appeal to everyone. Further, with such diversity comes the understanding that content does not need to be dumbed-down to suite any one particular audience (i.e., children).
4. Rated for Content
Games are rated for content in most countries/regions they are sold (e.g., ESRB in North America, PEGI in Europe, etc). These descriptive ratings are meant to aid consumers in making age-appropriate purchases. What's more, copious literature and notes are provided online and at the point-of-sale to aid in the decision making process. Further, many countries have advertising and marketing review councils to ensure that games are appropriately marketed.
- Entertainment Software Rating Board
- Pan European Game Information ratings
- Advertising Review Council
5. Worthy of Academic Study
Games have become such a pervasive part of our culture, and speak deeply to so many players that academics have started to study them as cultural artifacts. Academics are studying such things as the aesthetics of design, the cultural impact of games relative to other media, the anthropology of play, and gender-role dynamics to name but a few areas of inquiry.
- Digital Games Research Association
- Game Studies - The International Journal of Computer Game Research
- Game On: The History, Culture and Future of Videogames
6. Significant Economic Impact
The game industry grosses over $10billion in the USA, with worldwide estimates in the $25billion range. In several countries – England being one example – exports from game sales represent one of the highest outputs of all export industries. Further, well over a hundred thousand people are employed worldwide, on the development side as well as the business end of games.
- ESA 2000-2001 Economic Impact Study (pdf)
- From Exuberant Youth to Sustainable Maturity - UK Competitiveness Analysis by UK Department of Trade and Industry (pdf)
- NPD Funworld
7. A Serious Side to Play
More and more, games and game-technologies are being used for “serious” applications such as corporate training, military simulation, scholastic learning and public policy decision making. Further, games are being used in medical and therapeutic scenarios (e.g., aid in treating ADD or to train diabetic kids to take their medicine).
- "Computer games 'can help children learn'" by Lucy Ward, education correspondent The Guardian
- MIT Games-to-Teach Project
- Serious Games Initiative
- “What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy” by James Paul Gee
- “Digital Game-Based Learning” by Marc Prensky
8. Media Effects Fact/Fiction
There are many reports claiming that games cause one thing or another. But, for every such report, there’s another to either debunk its claims or to make new claims in the opposite direction. To date, research and debate on the effects of media have been inconclusive. Fundamentally, most research is conducted without an actual understanding of games and their players.
- "Violent Video Game Players Mysteriously Avoid Killing Selves, Others" by Seth Killian
- "Do Video Games Lead to Violent Behavior in Children?" American Academy of Family Physicians
- “Ill Effects: The Media Violence Debate” by Martin Barker
- “Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes and Make-Believe Violence” by Gerard Jones
- “Evaluating the Research on Violent Video Games” by Jonathan L. Freedman, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto
9. Crime Rates in Decline
In the USA, violent crime rates among youth have been declining steadily over the past decade. Conversely, the increase in media attention of any one crime leads to the public perception that such violent crimes are pervasive – when in fact they are not. Further, in other countries with high levels of game consumption (e.g., Japan, Canada), youth crime is almost non-existent.
- "The Truth About Violent Youth and Video Games" by Game Revolution
- "Youth Crime Drop" by the Urban Institute Justice Policy Center (pdf)
10. Distraction from Real Problems
As the US Surgeon General has pointed out, there are very serious woes in our society - poverty, education levels, substance abuse and domestic violence to name but a few - that directly and tangibly contribute to violent behavior. These problems need to be addressed in a meaningful way. Pointing to games and other forms of art and entertainment as scapegoats will not solve anything, but rather serve as an ongoing distraction from addressing these hard-to-deal-with societal issues.
- Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General
- "Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked" by Dr. Henry Jenkins
- "It's Not Evil Spirits That Make Teens Kill" by Dr. Helen Smith