“If a ray of light falls into a pigsty, it is the ray that shows us the muck and it is the ray that is offensive.”
The initial inauguration of this medium started with an invention called a cathode ray tube amusement device. Beguiling as that was, we adopted a term that has stayed with us for over 40 years; a convenient marketing tool for a child’s toy. At the time it was effective and resolute, I place emphasis on ‘was’ because today I feel that description is completely inapt and this holistic language has limited creativity. It prompts me to question:
Is the term videogame obsolete?
This industry’s heritage should be venerable, but not to the extent of becoming enslaved by it. We have given society an inaccurate view of the medium, their opinions formed by the themes and language we repeatedly subscribe to. Why should we care about what they think?
Because we move in contradictions; we have a voluminous desire for this instrument to be respected yet still support its disposability and child-like sentiments.
This is how the media has achieved its unremitting scapegoat; holding games responsible for every teenage related crime and death that they can be vaguely linked to. This has culminated with dire repercussions; the levying of taxes to censor and regulate game content.
When people believe that videogames are still like Pong, as some do, it is easy to refute their opinions as uneducated. When negative perceptions derive from malicious content however, it is not so straightforward… because we revel in it. What was the last game you played that didn’t feature violence? (sports and simulations non-withstanding)
Should games be censored to appease ignorant politicians? No, they should not, but maybe that is not the real source of their ignorance. Perhaps their unfamiliarity is misdirected, could it be that the contents affiliation with the word ‘game’ is problematic, this and the relationship with the terms derivatives such as; play, fun and joy?
When you think of the word game it brings all of this baggage with it, it is intended for the purpose of amusement and to entertain. Our terminology states that to engage with the medium we must ‘play’ with it. Play, fun, amuse and entertain, are words that are embedded every time we speak of it, especially in the context of the mediums antiquity. Games are even critiqued in such a way that the ‘gameplay’ has to be fun and enjoyable, especially to be a superlative experience.
When the media or a politician witnesses the content of a violent game, for instance; people being murdered in sadistic and grotesque ways, these blatant contradictions arise. They see that fun is aligned with murder, play is associated with torture, and amusement relates to suffering. As the sole requirement of the medium is interaction it makes matters worse that they have direct control of those aspects. We use a vocabulary that generates erroneous messages, it is not surprising that it besieges the non-playing public’s consciousness.
The film industry has had its fair share of censorship issues, but it is less likely to receive the same backlash as a videogame does, the difference is; the content is viewed in a compartmentalised way.
The word ‘Film’ on its own has no fixed messages; it describes the medium simply as a tool. There are no preconceived notions, about who its audience is, or what its content contains, it is a generalised term like music or art. The appropriate genre is inserted to clarify that it is; a horror film or an adult film, because of this any censorship is limited within its genre and not directed at the medium as a whole.
Videogames are classified into genres and there are guidelines to appropriate who they are for, but there are contradictions between the content and the perception of that content, that word game again is prevalent. The word is obtuse, I do not have a problem of what it stands for, more the fact that it doesn’t represent a cohesive description of the medium.
The vehicle has advanced far beyond the confinements of its lexicon, it produces myriad emotions in addition to the expected fun, it should not be held back from exploring other avenues, especially by its language.
So to answer the question: I do feel the term is obsolete, it feels out-dated and somewhat suppressive.
I have coined a term to articulate what this medium is rather then who it is for. I do not expect it to replace the word we have used for the last 40 years, (even though it is slightly more catchy than its predecessor: cathode ray tube amusement device) it is merely a new way of thinking of the medium, as a creative tool rather than a stereotypical child’s toy.
The term is the name of this blog: Interactive visions.
The idea behind it is; your interaction with the developers thoughts trough their vision. Regardless if those thoughts are of fun, hate, fear or love, it is all encompassing.
This term is to think of the future and what might be possible. It is not to repeat something that has been made before, but something that has not yet been made.
To some, this is the ray that is offensive.