Thursday, August 28

We are family! Bringing it all together.

Shakespeare liked to play with gender roles and he lived long before video games. You can probably guess that I like Shakespeare's plays too. Sex and gender plays a part in nearly every decision we make, even four hundred years later. It's the human condition.

Studies are being conducted that analyse who plays games and why, such as this one. This is so that marketers can build a strategy to appeal to those kinds of gamers by tailoring the advertising campaign to that demographic of gamer. Yet when games sell they experience an initial boom period followed by a bust period as detailed by Leigh Alexander. I am no expert. There is no data supporting any claims I'm about to make. I suspect that the reasons for this is that games and gamers aren't always very compatible. GTA IV was touted as the game to end all games in the press, a lure I resisted for one month. I love games, you see, and I had to know! GTA and I were not a good fit, not at all. I knew it but the gaming industry didn't care and succeeded in selling me something I did not want.

Never again!

Understanding what it is I like about games empowers me. The gender stereotypes I explore in my previous posts and the reasons for my interest are one of the ways I derive satisfaction from games. Knowing this I can test whether a game like GTA fits my profile. Not surprisingly, it doesn't. I don't regret buying it, playing it or trading it. I don't regret buying and keeping Lair either! By looking at the games that I like and exploring what it is that I like about them I can subvert the machinations of the marketing executives and their PR machine. As more AAA titles fail to satisfy our individual tastes we will become more sophisticated as consumers and seek both deeper and broader information about games.

Developers and publishers owe a responsibility to the public as well. If they ever wish to be taken "seriously" then they need to understand their role in this. Japanese developers appear to be very aware that their players are very diverse, very fickle and very capable of discarding them in preference for something that is a better fit. Their industry is more mature. Their games cater to many more tastes. Other nations that develop games (North America, Canada, and Europe) must become aware that gamers have many different tastes and start accomodating those tastes. So far it seems the developers think that they know best, but that is starting to change. Read the comments though, because it's going to take a while.

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