Back in 2008, Masaya Matsuura, head of NanaOn-Sha (Parappa the Rapper
) wrote an article
for Gamasutra lamenting the cultural legacy games were leaving for future generations to find. Violence, he said, was the main focus of our creative content, and so future anthropologists might consider our recreational activities to be backward and barbaric.
These days, though, he thinks that's changing. Not within games themselves, but within their business potential. For example, NanaOn-Sha itself contributed to the OneBigGame
project last year, which takes profits from games sold and donates them to charity.
NanaOn-Sha created WINtA
, which gives its proceeds to Save the Children, and the Starlight Children's Foundation. Many social game companies (notably Zynga's dedicated charity branch Zynga.org) and free-to-play games have donated sales of certain items to charity, as well.
"Everybody recognizes that games should contribute much more to society and the community," says Matsuura, speaking to Gamasutra before this week's Tokyo Game Show. "So I think this kind of approach is very sympathetic. I really respect that people have started thinking about that."
"If this kind of trend gets much more successful, I think maybe the game's treatment of violence won't be a big issue for me anymore," he added. "What's inside the original contents doesn't matter."
"The higher level, the business level, gives us a chance to do much more ... if the benefit from these games, if they can contribute to another purpose, a charity or something, that would be a very good thing I think."
That is to say, even if the game itself is about violence and action, if the game serves a more noble purpose with its profits, the overall benefit is greater than the harm done by retaining the stigma of a violent medium.
"I think the higher layer, that extra context and meaning, is just now coming out recently," he said. "Last time I talked about this kind of thing, we didn't have this kind of layer yet. So I think violent games, if we can include some charities or something, then this kind of game looks a little different for me."