“You must really hate games”. No, not really. I actually love games. I love them so much that I want them to be better.

We have this fear of criticizing games that I think are based on various things, but to make a long story short, this is my hypothesis:

  1. Games have been criticized for creating a generation of violent children. In short, it is a topic that is viewed with suspicion and games are easy to blame for violence and violent behaviour, even though there is no scientific basis for this belief.
  2. Academia hasn’t kept up or even been invited to keep up. Academics were, to be fair, some of the people pushing the thesis that games make children violent.
  3. Academia itself suggested a division between mechanics and content. Ludologists vs narratologists. The ludologists “won”, reducing the meaning of the content in the game in favour of the mechanics.
  4. Reviews were focused exclusively on hardware and engines for a long time, no doubt because of the moral panic surrounding games. Even very recent reviews of games are still praising games that have “good combat systems’ to high heaven, and ignoring games with less technical successes but more interesting stories.
  5. Studios and publishers are treated differently in the public “gaming” opinion. Places like Rockstar and CD Project Red can do no evil, whereas studios and publishers like EA can do no good. Game designers like Hideo Kojima can release whatever they want and gamers still love them, while some studios are never given a chance in public opinion.
  6. Identity fusion in gaming communities is a thing, which is why we see these strong reactions to criticism over and over again. Identity fusion is much stronger than just identification, which is why I think we see such strong reactions to anything “negative” that has to do with gaming.
  7. Gaming culture is tied strongly to the gaming industry. The identity fusion and identification with the idea of being a gamer and “passionate for games” – i.e. not very critical of games and game dev at all, play into an identity that isn’t very critical and not very questioning.

This is as you may have understood by now, just a theory, but I believe it has some merit. Anyway, the reason I am critical is because I believe we can do better. We should do better. Why else do we work with games?