Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

TV, and the public face of gaming

So there is a BBC TV prog on ‘addiction in gaming’ on the way. Oh JOY. Not that I do not think there is a case to answer, there definitely is. Games ARE designed to be addictive, just ask Zynga, or ask pretty much any game designer who has read widely both on game design, and neuroscience. (like me!). The problem is that traditionally, the mainstream media has handled issues in gaming so incredibly poorly, in such a slap-dash ‘who cares’ fashion, as to make any ‘research’ into the topic on  popular TV to be useless, laughable, insulting and frankly, piss-poor journalism.

Take a look at this image:

Now place your bets which is considered to be an image that represents ‘video games’ to a TV executive. It’s the angry, scary dude with a gun, obviously. Never mind the fact that happy clappy games like habbo hotel probably outsell the angry games with guns by a huge margin. Never mind the fact that gamers are actually interacting, often with other people, rather than passively absorbing the  predictable, mindless drivel of TV cooking programs and property shows. Never mind that the average gamer is no longer a 13 year old boy with poor exam results (Was that ever true?).

What’s more important is for gaming to be held up as something to be scared of. Why? Well here is the bitter, sad irony. Anyone in journalism worth their salt knows that fear SELLS. We are basically hardwired to be scared, to be hungry, and to want sex. Everything else is frankly an afterthought. Advertisers know this, and exploit it to death. Game designers are in kindergarten when it comes to manipulating their audience, take a look at adverts to see how it is really done.

And of course, taker a look at cheap journalism, of the ‘IMMIGRANTS CAUSE HOUSE PRICE FALLS‘ style, or more relevantly, the ‘GAMES ARE BAD’ sort we have got used to on TV.

Newspapers like the Daily Mail or News of the world vastly outsell stuff like new scientist, and it’s no surprise. We all know that a new scientist investigation into ‘does eating 5  a day make you healthy’ that concludes ‘it’s hard to say, it depends…’ won’t sell as well as a News of the world story that ‘FRUIT CAUSES AIDS!!!‘  What is really dissapointing is that the BBC doesn’t need to sell newspapers, or even subscriptions. It’s in the unique position of being able to say “This thing that we thought might be bad, turns out to be not bad”, and nobody would lose their job.

Pity they never do that, isn’t it?

6 thoughts on TV, and the public face of gaming

  1. They did a good job of losing England the World Cup. May as well get a few more games banned. The government should lose the BBC it’s tv license fee.

  2. While the games industry does have a negative impact on society to some extent, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing, what is also ignored is that it can have a positive impact as well and often does. But as you seem to be saying, a headline of “VIDEO GAMES ARE EVIL!!!” sells better than “Video games aren’t so bad after all, study finds.”
    TV, for the last few years, seems to have lost it’s ability to produce a decent documentary. There have been some that I’ve watched that have spent an hour telling you something that could have been expalined in fifteen minutes and have just been bulked the rest out with repetition and the same fancy visuals playing accoss the screen over and over.

  3. my opinion of the BBC and media in general has nose dived quite abit in the passed few years. As you get a bit more knowledgable about things you start to notice when journalists do a really bad job of covering them.

    Im a physical science postgrad, and i would say about 90% of BBC/ the papers based science journalisim is awful. Its very sensationalised, and rarely accurate. Most recently i was at some of the student protests. Its interesting how either police, or the NUS or some group with some authority comes out with a number and it instantly becomes fact in the papers, regardless of the political motives of said organisations in choosing such a number.

    the worst thing about the BBC is the director general, Mark Thompson, who pays him self £800,000 per annum, highest payed public servant, and his job is to promote crap like this.

  4. I agree, how the guy who decides what is on TV thinks he deserves five times what the UK prime minister earns is beyond me. The salaries in the BBC are disgusting. Given the fact that they treat the audience as retards, and bombard us with loud annoying irritating adverts for crap a thousand times a day, I see little point in watching the BBC.
    TBH, Russia Today is a better channel.

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