What’s been said? What’s the implications?
Recently, in Germany, a somewhat prestigious award ceremony (Deutscher Computerspielpreis) took place. Crysis 2 managed to take the top prize. Hooray!
Well, not everyone was happy. Bernd Neumann (Germany’s Culture Minister) said;
“In the light of one decision of the jury, it makes sense to think about if games should be honoured which are only suitable for grown-ups, because a game not suitable for teenagers because of the violence cannot be of cultural or educational value.”
This is quite a ridiculous statement. I mean, seriously, something that is ‘only suitable for grown-ups’ can’t be of cultural or educational value?
The problem is that the Deutscher Computerspielpreis awards are decided by a jury that’s half games industry (B.I.U., G.A.M.E., press, etc) and half chosen by the government. This is the case because the award ceremony is a government backed initiative and with this being the case the games that win the awards (more specifically, the top prize) are to be ‘culturally and educationally valuable‘.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the sentiment that Crysis 2 isn’t of much cultural or educational value. Imagine that the Oscars gave ‘Best Picture’ to ‘The Expendables’. That’d be downright embarrassing, but the film industry wouldn’t need the government to point that out. The Oscars also wouldn’t have a jury half decided by the government either. This interference does nothing to get people behind the idea of changing games and improving their cultural worth. It creates nothing but an ‘Us Vs Them’ attitude.
Of course, sometimes this ‘Us Vs Them’ attitude is to be expected when some politicians still insist on using games as nothing more than something to stomp on to look important. The latest in the long line of crusaders looking out for our best interests is Keith Vaz. He’s done nothing more than tell us that we need to stop the menace of ‘ultra-violent’ games. This is probably to help us forget the other issues that surround Mr Vaz, you know, like his alleged corruption.
It’d be foolish of me to claim that governments of this world should just ‘leave us alone’. What they should be doing is promoting positive examples of gaming, help companies remain competitive and help ensure skills that are crucial to the industry are being taught.
Games shouldn’t be used as a political tool for point scoring. Otherwise, you’ll end up looking like a political tool.