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The Power Behind Gaming

by Matthew Burns on 01/24/13 08:29:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Well, a tornado is sweeping through Washington D. C. under the guise of uncovering the root causes of violence in our nation. It has led to an aftermath of destruction where if it is not tended too, it could be our undoing. Collectively we are being told, that includes us game designers/developers, by giving up some control (yes I know they said they were only doing some research) our world will be safer and better.

Listen, we all know the arguments for and against this issue. One might say; "they are just going to do some research on the impact of society by video games" or "research is the first step to complete censorship" or "we as an industry must change the public perspective of ourselves" or "never trust these corrupt politicians" or "big business is behind this" or "we have a moral obligation to society" or "it is our constitutional rights" or even "do it for the children." Nope, this blog is not about the arguments but about the fundamental issue facing the game developing community (Indies especially) and society in general.

Folks, it is about power. Who has what power and to what degree. I suppose one can call it control but you cannot control anything unless you have the power to do so.

I find it deliciously interesting this circus was happening around 'Internet Freedom Day,' a day to commemorate when some major websites went black to protest SOPA on January 18, 2012. How many of you remember SOPA (see Aaron Swartz keynote speech on his fight against SOPA)? It was a bill under the guise of protecting intellectual property rights that would have given power to the government and others over parts of the internet (I have overly simplified). Now as an Indie and a web series animator I depend on the freedom of the internet to survive. Why would I want to cede my power to some entity that could curtail my livelihood Do I as an Indie have the money to lobby the Senate like a big video game company or have the means for which to jump through all new hoops placed before me?

Unfortunately, power for some is never quenchable. When it comes to large institutions power fuels its expansion into areas it should never enter.

Yes I know. I hear people asking in the background how I could be so cold. Did I say never to use your personal arguments or feelings or base your decisions and ideals on your morals? No, I did not. Did I ever say we did not have our own issues that as an industry we must deal with? Nope. What I did say was before matters like these are muddled in the noise of public opinion one needs to accept and acknowledge what the fundamental issue is; who will have the power and therefore the control over (fill in the blank). If you as a game designer/developer stand up and say, "No! We are not the cause and we will not change;" then you will have to endure the ire of the media, public opinion and politicians. If you as a game designer/developer are willing to give up some of your power and control within your industry for the sake of public opinion or, in your opinion, the good of society, know you are submitting yourself and your industry to outside control.

Before I go, I would like to leave you with this thought, once you voluntarily give up personal or collective power to any entity, the likelihood of ever retrieving it back is practically nil.

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