In ‘Why We Write: On Game Critique, Influence and Reach’ Austin Walker writes about his stance and opinions about the state of game critique and its influence on the outer community. This is often a source of contention among gamers, as many different cultural backgrounds and influences tie together in games (and other pieces of creative work). Many cultural ties causes discussion – both positive and negative – about the purpose, place in the context of the world, relevance to the audience, the implications of its use or influence on the audience of the game’s content. Disgruntled players sometimes misunderstand criticism in a game they love as ‘unduly influencing developers’ where it may simply share an opinion that is no more ‘forcing’ a developer as it is ‘influencing’ their content. Criticism is a reflection of the background and experiences of the person consuming the content. Disagreements tend to center around race and ethnic diversity of characters, and the level of racial sensitivity that is applied to cultures through creative works are products of this. Without knowing, a decision (creative or otherwise) such as a white-only Animal Crossing protagonist will stir its community who feel their experiences and backgrounds aren’t reflected in their content. Upset players may see the only viable option to simply ban or censor content that doesn’t feel appropriate or is offensive, but blocking criticism creates thoroughly stifled lens into cultures we don’t understand, or into ourselves and our heritage. Being critical about games does not serve to make the games industry more ‘Politically Correct’, but rather to embolden the importance of diversity as a tool for learning and sharing experiences, especially in the context of games.
As developers, it is vital that criticism is taken aboard. We do not make games for ourselves, but for our audience. It is our jobs to tell stories through interesting mechanics, inventive designs, colourful characters and leave lasting memories. We must incorporate a wide lens to captures the true colours of ourselves and our communities. Games are so much better than the brain-sucking, violent, sex-simulators the mass media sometimes misrepresents us as, it’s important we prove them wrong.
Walker, A. (2013, June 17). Me, On The Screen: Race in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://clockworkworlds.com/post/53240010750/me-on-the-screen-race-in-animal-crossing-new
Walker, A. (2015, June 10). Editorial: Why We Write: On Game Critique, Influence, and Reach. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.giantbomb.com/articles/editorial-why-we-write-on-game-critique-influence-/1100-5215/