27 November 2008

The problem with people...

There was an article by Leigh Alexander over on Kotaku recently about how she came into contact with the uninformed public - the great unwashed masses so to speak. It's true that themes run through society and this one has been coming along rather nicely. The basic fact is, as i've acknowledged time and time again, that the majority of consumers who buy games don't know about the artform.

They don't read gaming blogs or review sites and they don't read gaming magazines. In fact, i'd go as far to speculate that the majority of game purchases are purely 'impulse buys' rather than informed decisions and i think that this is reflected in the way that the games that get the most general advertising do the best - regardless of the quality offered. It's why gaming companies can get away with DRM - as the CEO of EA pointed out - the majority of the consumers who buy games don't know or care about DRM though that second point is entirely dependent on the first. Once i've explained DRM to a few of my friends they all agreed that it was a bad idea for the consumer: it is a generally agreed principle that once paid for, the consumer owns said product to do with it as they wish.

It is purely because of the above reasons that we, as a community are a minority voice in how games are made, targeted and controlled. We have little power to effect change in the industry, even though we are the loudest, because the largest corporations such as EA and Activision don't get the majority of their revenue from us. I don't mean to say that we shouldn't complain - we do have some voice after all and staying quiet represents our complicity in the actions that these companies take.

To be honest i still don't get why people are surprised by these revelations. I mean, how many of the hundreds of literature consumers would be considered experts (or borderline experts) on the medium? How many people who have bought paintings fully comprehended the socio-economic factors that went into the development of a certain artistic movement during the late 19th century in France? (I'm not a great art lover so i'm just putting this together for effect not because i know of any art movements that were spawned in France in the late 1800s)

The world is ruled by the misinformed and run by the misinformed while those who are informed rant, rave, push and press against the bindings of ignorance. Of course, everyone is ignorant and everyone is an expert.... it's how the human race can achieve the levels of information that it has done... but we've yet to find a way to get that information and knowledge usefully applied.

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