TV, and the public face of gaming December 2, 2010 cliffski 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?