People we need, people we don't

I've been making games for a long time, and it has been gratifying to watch the industry go from "I barely even knew that a game industry existed" status to "games are everywhere, gamers are everywhere". It's good to be part of a growth industry, rather than a shrinkth industry.

With this growth, there are a lot of people who have entered the field of video game development, or who pay attention to it. Some of this is good, some not so much. I'm here to point my thumb up for someone, and down for someone, folks who have an effect on either the gaming industry as a whole, or my mood. Read on for the two lucky individuals:

We Need: Jack Thompson

No one sells games like Jack. If Jack can be so incoherent while also being the face of the anti-game movement, games will be around for a long time. Someone so manifestly unhinged, who sides with the opposition, that's the gift that keeps on giving.

Jack is often on cable news, calling our little phosphorescent indulgences "murder simulators" and likening gamers to Hitler Youth (fun quotes here). The more his voice of wild fantasy can be heard, the more rational the public becomes about games. Millions (billions?) of gamers around the world are manifestly not murderous savages, millions of Pokemon-playing kids are still nice little kids, so Jack's message really does start to come through as the raving of a media-obsessed grandstander.

But it helps sales, so go Jack!

We Don't: Uwe Boll

Speaking as someone who owns a comprehensive Ed Wood collection (on DVD, no less), I can honestly say that there has never been a worse filmmaker than Uwe Boll. His obsession with turning forgettable video games into truly awful, "The goggles, they do nothing!" terrible films is really a black eye for the industry.

If games are going to entwine themselves with our other entertainment products, you don't want someone as singularly ungifted as Uwe Boll leading your charge in Hollywood. If Alone in the Dark wasn't enough to make you doubt games as a reasonable possible contributor to our cultural canon, the existence of House of the Dead, BloodRayne, and (implausibly enough) the upcoming Alone in the Dark II should kill your optimism instantly.

That people give him money to make movies is surely a sign that we live, not in a neutral universe governed purely by physical laws, but in a malevolent, chthonic abyss of pain, where unspeakable monstrosities move in the shadows and feed on our collective despair.



IEEE Spectrum’s gaming blog was retired in 2010, but it is preserved here for archival reference.