i think this search for an abstract sense of validation is definitely palpable and has it’s roots in how videogames were perceived for a long time, but it’s becoming less relevant as the first people who grew up with videogames become older. games are mainstream, a bigger industry than sports and movies combined. people’s lives are becoming more embedded with tech and tech is ingrained with game design; how people date, how they learn things, how they work and collaborate, how they communicate with each other… it’s all mediated by platforms that are basically games in and of themselves. for better or worse, the modern world is one in which the nerds have won; but the sense of insecurity lingers… nay, the sense insecurity reigns, it’s the fuel on which these platforms feast.
i think there’s something deeply broken about that, so extremely unsatisfying on a base level, and ultimately just boring. there’s plenty of space for more kinds of experiences driven by other principles, even within the capitalist system. this strictly imposed, self-flagellating sense of inevitability, that things could only possibly be exactly the way they are, is brain poison. if you look at the way things happened in the past, and continue to happen in the real world, it’s patently untrue. every single person has some capacity to be the change they want to see in the world, but first they have to figure out what that is, so let’s!
re: bringing more outsiders in
i think it’s worth thinking about what that means, exactly. the industry is way bigger now than years ago, so whether it is by recruiting new generations of kids, or making games that look like movies, videogames have been “bringing more outsiders in”. the problem is games are a specialised medium, and they are expensive to produce, so if the process of bringing outsiders in includes familiarizing them with all the tropes and quirks of the medium, by the time they are ready to produce something that output is unlikely to be revolutionary. to flip this on it’s head, i think a different answer would be to make games for people who don’t usually play games. ok, so the Wii did that, and Candy Crush did that, but that’s hardly scratching the surface, imho. i think it can be a positive feedback loop that brings more people to games, as players and devs, for the right reasons (because they are more interesting and relevant to them (which in turn produces more interesting games (which in turn brings more people in))).
ps: to flip the other two caveats as well: make games that are less specialised and cheaper to produce.
totally agree about expressing joy and encouraging imagination and playfulness as a powerful and positive driving force. that said, there is something weird about how these qualities are identified with childishness, specially in the US, and how adults seem to have to also identify with childishness in order to allow themselves to feel those things or express those feelings. that’s fucked up.