let's fix videogames

i just caught up with the 20th anniversary episode, and it was really good. as many pointed out, the highlight was Azurelore Korrigan's succinct answer (perhaps The Definitive Answer) to the question “What the hell is wrong with videogames?”, which was conveniently posted as a video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRPA9lRdziw

i think between this and [episode 146](https://forums.insertcredit.com/d/195-ep-146-what-is-wrong-with-video-games-and-nine-other-questions) we got a pretty good overview of the many, many things that are wrong with games. given all that, i propose that right here, right now, in this figurative room, we go ahead and fix them! my question to you all is this: **how can games be better?** it's a big question; the answer can encompass design trends, industry practices, and even larger ideas about what makes life worth living... so, to get us started, some hints, from the video above (sorry for any inaccuracies):

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[…] If you look at the language of videogames, it‘s basically an understanding of cause and effect, of a certain bottled world, of a premise of how things can be […] and you bash your head against it -see what works, see what doesn’t work- in order to understand somebody's perspective of the causaled reality we live in.

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The amount of literacy with which people engage with videogames -I mean, understandably- is that they are just looking to have a good time; they‘re not looking for interesting ideas, or new experiences, or getting new perspectives on the world -they might when engaging with other forms of expression they might have to think about more, that have more of a reputation for being “deep thought” things- but with videogames, they just think "oh, I'm just gonna chill, I’m just gonna have my little bit of reward from my life that is completely unrewarding to me. Everything in my life in this capitalist society is making me feel dehumanized -here I get to feel like the centre of the world, everything is built around me, everything is built around making me feel good". If you‘re not thinking about that very critically, and you’re just pouring yourself into it, that‘s not that much different than pouring yourself down an Alex Jones wormhole. Videogames have very much the same effect, or they can, depending on how you engage with them, and what kinds of games you’re engaged with -I think more so than any other media, because they demand active engagement, but it's on this really gross level.

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Brandon: Those roots are definitely palpable throughout the entirety of games but I think that recently, -in the last like, 5 years, people have actually started to think about it and address it.

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Azurelore: Yeah, there are a lot of interesting indie games out there where people are actually trying to express ideas that are meaningful to them through the language they can, and sometimes those have interesting things to say, but they don't demand that huge portion of my life, they just ask a modest amount of my time, and in order to have a more honest conversation.

so, come on, whether you agree with the statements above or not, pie in the sky pipe dream brainstorm!

how can videogames be better? -

ideas so far:

**MORE VARIETY**
more dribble the beach ball minigames // computer-board-game hybrids, less dependence on screens // more games that are in conversation with other artistic mediums rather than just other games // less games where violence is the main action // stop it with the gratuitous horniness // more local and online coop games, more games as a thing to be enjoyed with other people // more games that actively push creative play // it doesn't have to have crafting // seriously enough with the crafting already // more *foundational* innovation; trying to create new kinds of experiences that only an interactive medium can facilitate; games can be anything, including things we don't understand yet, let's push that boundary! //

**BETTER DISCOURSE**
in games discussion, move focus away from newest releases and promote enjoying and re-evaluating games from all eras and platforms // normalise being honest and assertive about why you like games instead of disingenuous // stop referring to addiction and obsession as positive features // promote videogame literacy; help people identify manipulative design // stop gatekeeping attitudes; all games, platforms and genres are valid and valuable //

**MORE ACCESSIBILITY**
get more people who aren’t “in” videogames making videogames // design games with accessibility in mind, without making assumptions about the player’s existing knowledge // normalise piracy/de-commercialisation of older games for preservation purposes // make games available to those who can’t afford them (i.e. in libraries) // offer a variety of difficulty modes // get rid of artificial hardware requirements, the technology is there to bring games to almost any device //

**BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS**
demonise and stigmatise crunch culture for the exploitative tactic that it is // hold companies accountable when there is documented sexism and other abusive working conditions, don't just continue as usual //

[“The Let’s Fix Videogames Thread”,“let’s fix videogames”]

first thing that comes to mind is more dribble the beach ball minigames

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/iAZti-1RI78/maxresdefault.jpg

that's all i got, your turn

@tombo#28662 people who aren‘t “in” video games making video games as much as possible would be a good step toward fixing video games. the fact that all the people making and playing video games are part of the same subculture reinforces that subculture. it doesn’t help that you have to buy special hardware to play video games. that's a natural barrier to entry.

and for me personally, to fix video games we need to get rid of light emitting displays. my eyes can't take playing video games for very long anymore. i want *computer* games that play like card games or board games. i think it could cool to put rfids in physical game pieces and keep track of game state on a computer. i'd even persue the idea if, first of all, i had a more concrete idea, and second, any spare time whatsoever.

@pasquinelli#28671 i love that second idea! i bought Flick Em Up! for my non-gaming family this past christmas as an easy-to-get-into board game, and it was kind of a disaster. things like keeping track of every unit's health status and items, resetting the board when it got moved around, and keeping the objective in mind were a lot to take in for a non-gamer crowd. if the technology was there, something that had the convenience and audiovisual feedback of a videogame with the tangible, tactile thing of a board game could be really nice!

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@pasquinelli#28671 people who aren’t “in” video games making video games as much as possible

strong agree here. Also would be great for games to be in conversation with other art/media rather than just other games

@yeso#28674 do you mean within videogames themselves or irl?

some more off the top of my head:

-demonise and stigmatise crunch culture for the exploitative tactic that it is.

-in games discussion, move focus away from newest releases and promote enjoying and re-evaluating games from all eras and platforms.

-lower all barriers to entry; design games with accessibility in mind, without making assumptions about the player's existing knowledge/skill.

-normalise piracy/de-commercialisation of older games for preservation purposes.

-make games available to those who can't afford them. library computers should have access to the whole Steam catalogue for free.

-diversify the subject matter and design trends to move away from games where violence is the main interaction.

@tombo#28675 meaning, video games as part of the same landscape as film, music, lit, visual art etc rather than in their own small pond

It should be punishable by law to write about a video game with the angle “why am so I into this stupid thing?” ever again. Related to that is avoiding using terms like addiction or obsessions as positives. Also please refrain from talking about how much unspecified “content” a game has.

I am very concerned with the "discourse".

@yeso#28679 i feel like that happens in a formal kind of way, like there‘s a lot of games that reference or try to look like movies and vice-versa, same with music videos and various art styles… but i know what you mean, it feels like they aren’t in the same plane of existence, like they have things in common but they aren't talking the same language. part of it is simply how mainstream/part of the public consciousness they are or not, but another part is kind of intrinsic to them because of how they are designed and by who, like their ambitions are limited to satisfying a very particular niche.

I agree with what Brandon said on the episode that video game discourse (mostly the critical discourse) has gotten better in the past 20 years, & that's been nice to see. But there is still leagues to go, too.

Backing up lots of what has been said already, but here's an obvious one: I'd like to see more of the largely influential video game outlets hold video companies accountable more often. Even simple accountability would be a good start. For instance, a big mainstream site like IGN covered all of the abuse allegations coming out of Ubisoft over the past year or so. And then they continued to just cover Ubisoft games & hype up Assassin's Creed Whatever It Is This Year on their podcasts as though nothing at all had changed. I know there's not a perfect solution to this -- media sites are obligated to cover major media -- but it feels extremely gross to carry out business as usual when we know the people making this content have been hurt.

I come from a film background & will be the first to say that the larger film industry is rotten to the core, but this would be equivalent to major film websites hyping up a Harvey Weinstein movie. Even the film industry is better than this, & that's a low bar.

great stuff so far. strongly backing diversity.

some other stray thoughts:

the general horniness is not fun or playful. it's gross. good lord, put that thing away kojima.

this goes along with the idea of designing with accessibility from the start- just get rid of artificial difficulty modes. they don't do anything except question one's ability before even playing the thing.

emphasize playing with others locally. it's hard enough getting into video games with the whole buying of hardware and equipment. then you have to learn through tutorials? party toys like overcooked or even serious co-op like a way out are great ways to be introduced. promote jolly cooperation! video games are media that uniquely allow it!

and as much as i like hardware and useless peripherals, we're getting to a point in which a modern toaster can play games. the stadia or things like it should absolutely be a path forward. game design can and should adjust to it.

more games that actively push creative play. it doesn't have to have crafting. i can't think of any off the top of my head. i'm thinking along the lines of mario maker, but mario might already be too nerdy in that the liked creations are all kaizo levels.

@yeso#28679 Random famous people designing video games should become the 21st century equivalent of the pop-singer-to-weird-stilted-actor pipeline

this thread rules.

it was brought up earlier by tombo and yeso, the idea that games kind of inherently have their own language and that there's kind of a weird signal-to-noise relationship with how much games (esp mainstream games) accept or deny that (trying to be like movies and such).

i'd like to see games move in the direction of trying to clean up that signal a bit more, maybe with some more widespread interrogation of the reasons why a game creator/team would want to ape the language of cinema (for example) at all, instead of attempting to do something only games can do. games can be anything, so why are people obsessed with making them movies (aside from money)?

i'm definitely not saying that only highly experimental things are valid, but i think there is still plenty of space for more foundational innovation- not just in mechanically, but experientially. again- video games can be anything, including things that we don't understand yet! i'd like to see that boundary pushed even more.

I think promoting video game literacy would be good. Someone could develop a curriculum so that people could learn to be more critical of the games they play and understand how they’re made. if more people understood that games can lie and manipulate, like all media can, then maybe things would be better? And if people were able to speak the language of game design than maybe they would expect a higher standard in the games they play.

@Syzygy#28732 Man, as a library worker I hate working with video games, unfortunately. In Sweden they fall under weird license requirements so any video game you buy for the library is literally ten times the price of a book (around 100 euros). There are no agreed upon cataloguing standards. They are stolen or broken frequently and hard to replace because they go out of print or because, again, replacing them is so expensive. The selection, both in terms of what‘s available to buy with the license - which has to be physical media, making PC games and loads of indies uneligible by default - and what librarians actually buy is very bad. Basically I think the way games are marketed and sold, and how people engage with them, is a very poor fit for our library systems, which are built for books, records and DVDs. I’m sure the US is better, we've always been slow on the uptake for better or for worse.

I sometimes just have a console running a game in a corner for rainy school holidays and it can be pretty fun to see someone pick up Katamari Damacy or something for the first time, though.

I think “get people from ‘outside video games’” is the best answer here, really.

The other point I would make here is that there is far too much gatekeeping within video games -- in almost every way one would deem to interpret that statement. The biggest "fix" on those lines is related to some of the comments above about it being awkward that games require dedicated hardware purchases. This is largely not true anymore! A large percentage of people now have supercomputers in their pocket, but the video games enthusiasts strongly gatekeep them away by claiming that "mobile games" aren't "real games". This has to stop. If we truely desire more people to be involved (in whatever capacity) with games, we need to accept that mobile is not "fake" gaming. It is _different_ absolutely; not just the input methods but also the amount of time a player can dedicate in an uninterrupted fashion. Maybe it does not make sense to try and replicate Call of Duty on mobile, but that does not mean that mobile is not "real games".

Granted, a lot of what is presently offered to mobile game players is utter garbage! I do not dare argue that point. However, I'm willing to investigate which direction the arrow of causality is pointing here. I suspect that garbage ends up on mobile because it is not treated fairly, rather than it is not treated fairly because it only has (and can have) garbage.

Of course, this sentiment to remove gatekeeping in games does not limit itself to mobile -- that is just an obvious candidate that immediately comes to mind.

tons of great ideas, as i suspected! it seems like they fall in a few distinct categories so i have updated the OP with them. i will paste it here too for convenince:

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insert credit presents: how can videogames be better?
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ideas so far:


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>

MORE VARIETY

> more dribble the beach ball minigames // computer-board-game hybrids, less dependence on screens // more games that are in conversation with other artistic mediums rather than just other games // less games where violence is the main action // stop it with the gratuitous horniness // more local and online coop games, more games as a thing to be enjoyed with other people // more games that actively push creative play // it doesn‘t have to have crafting // seriously though, enough with the crafting already // more foundational innovation; trying to create new kinds of experiences that only an interactive medium can facilitate; games can be anything, including things we don’t understand yet, let‘s push that boundary! //


>
>

BETTER DISCOURSE

> in games discussion, move focus away from newest releases and promote enjoying and re-evaluating games from all eras and platforms // normalise being honest and assertive about why you like games instead of disingenuous // stop referring to addiction and obsession as positive features // promote videogame literacy; help people identify manipulative design // stop gatekeeping attitudes; all games, platforms and genres are valid and valuable //


>
>

MORE ACCESSIBILITY

> get more people who aren’t “in” videogames making videogames // design games with accessibility in mind, without making assumptions about the player’s existing knowledge // normalise piracy/de-commercialisation of older games for preservation purposes // make games available to those who can’t afford them (i.e. in libraries) // offer a variety of difficulty modes // get rid of artificial hardware requirements, the technology is there to bring games to almost any device //


>
>

BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS

> demonise and stigmatise crunch culture for the exploitative tactic that it is // hold companies accountable when there is documented sexism and other abusive working conditions, don’t just continue as usual //


>

not bad for just a few hours! :D seems like we got the broad strokes, but i'd love to hear more people's specific visions of how to achieve those big changes or how different realities would look like!

(Everything so far is perfect. I love it. And the answer given on that podcast should just be handed out to everyone!)

The first week of seventh grade, I was reading an EGM in the homeroom class thing. My friend from the previous year (who was a fellow video game player) saw it and said, “You still do all that?”

What if the reason developers try to make their games so movie-like is because they all feel they have something to prove? “I’ll show you mom/dad/Brad Mercer!” they say.

“We have to fix people before we can fix games,” said someone somewhere probably at some point. People seem to think video games “are for kids” or “are a waste of time.” Is it because they were told that so much that they now believe it? Or, do people not just allow themselves to relax or have fun because they then feel that they aren't contributing to society? If so, I don’t think that’s there fault (necessarily). It’s society’s (probably capitalism’s) fault.

I have children. One of my favorite things in the world is seeing them get excited about stuff. Adults don’t do that. It seems like we’re ashamed to and try to hide it for fear of “what someone will think.” When/why does that change happen? If people can realize it’s okay to have fun/be excited, maybe they’d be more accepting of video games? Then we could get more people making more (different) things.

I think there’s something to all that.

Maybe developers are looking for recognition/validation from the artists whose work they are inspired by (movie stuff)?

This is all from a (very obvious) American point of view. That’s all I know. Also, I have done zero research. This is all based on my own experiences/observations and then my “gut feeling.”