February 28, 2006

[Gaming] What We Do Right And Wrong

I've been trying to think a bit lately about what we, as an industry, do right and wrong compared to other entertainment mediums.

We do a good job of having the information that parents need to make an informed decision about games available on the packaging. Only a parent that isn't looking is going to miss the big, black and white ratings markers with the content descriptors. The content descriptors work so well that the movie industry is using a similar system now, sometimes with hilarious results.

We do not do a good job of showing that adults play games, too, however. As a result, these same people who ignore the massive black and white stickers lambast "M"-rated titles for content that isn't targeted towards or intended for children.

We do a good job of building up demand for our AAA-titles. We do not do a good job of sustaining interest or demand in those titles, however.

We do a horrible job of estimating how long the average player is going to take to beat a game. Most places, when they quote gametime, seem to quote it for a player who goes and does literally everything in the game, rather than a shortest path course. Of course, the larger number is more impressive, but hardly accurate. As a result, most gamers tend to take any time estimate we give them and divide by two at a minimum.

We do a horrible job of staggering our releases. Every winter, we have days when three or four really high-profile games come out the same week or even the same day.

We do a good job overall of releasing stable products, but that image is overshadowed by the handful of releases per year that are excessively flawed.

We do a good job of getting information out to the community about what is going to be in the game, but a bad job of handling community-driven spin.

We do a good job as far as compensating our employees, which is good, because in general, the industry does a poor job of managing work/life balance.

We generally do a good job as far as having fun with our work. We generally do a poor job when it comes to scheduling our work.

We do a poor job of remembering that different countries have different ethical and moral boundaries. I can show a girl in a swimsuit in Europe and get a 7+. Same girl, same swimsuit in the U.S., and I might get a T or M rating. Likewise, I show a priest in a game in a humorous manner in the U.S., it's an E. Overseas, that could be a ban.

The entertainment industry as a whole does a poor job of balancing the rights of the consumer with the need to protect our products from piracy. There are some in this industry who are a bit too eager to call a customer who is having problems with anti-piracy technology a pirate.

I'm out of time, so what else do you see us doing right or wrong?

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