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The Video Game

For the better part of two decades I have been wrestling with the identity of the Video Game: trying to describe her in a way that doesn’t invoke the high testosterone, disposable image traditionally branded, and one which instead commands the same respect as any other established medium.

And after twenty years I can categorically say I have failed. I tried using the late 90’s buzzwords like ‘interactive entertainment commodity’ in place of ‘Video Game’, and convinced myself that the industry definition of game authoring would soon no longer be synonymous with 3D Studio Max artistry.

But even before the new millennium was upon us – the games industry had further concentrated its target audience (seemingly from ‘male’ to ‘more male’); the games themselves had become more type-cast; and all my misconceptions of the industry maturing disappeared when Lara Croft became a pin-up amongst my peers. In short - the opposite had happened, and we had regressed.

And that was it. For 10 years I tried to write-off my childhood interest in gaming as a phase I had grown out of. And it was easy to do too: the industry had in many ways become the epitome of negative adolescent male culture: sexist; violent; isolationist; and creatively stagnant.

Most disappointing was that you couldn’t really point the finger at industry monopolists for the creative abstinence; game audiences were spending more than ever despite an increasingly limited pool of game designs.

In retrospect: the so-called ‘Video Games Crash’ of early 80’s America was reincarnated during these years – not in the sense of economic collapse, but through a hysterical commitment to putting photo realism ahead of interactive experimentation.