Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 Year in Review: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Hanging

The first half of 2006 looked like a banner year for the "gaming is teh devil" crowd.

Hillary Clinton and Joe Libermann wanted a piece. State legislatures wanted a piece. Advocay groups like "The Center for Successful Parenting" wanted a piece.

Everybody, it seemed, wanted a freaking piece of us.

It would have been one thing if these people had wanted some kind of rational discussion. They didn't. They just wanted a piece of rope and a scaffold.

The gaming lobby, meanwhile, seemed stuck in a state of denial. Sure, there was a rating system for games, but enforcing it was everyone else's problem. The myopia of that approach seemed obvious to everyone but them--by refusing to join the discussion, they had no chance of framing the discussion in reasonable terms.

It was all ridiculous, really. There's essentially one issue when it comes to children and gaming, and it's an issue where there is wide agreement: children shouldn't be playing games that are inappropriate for their age.

Seriously. That's what this Sturm und Drang is all about. And there is plenty of common ground inside that issue for everyone. And if you find common ground, you don't have to agree on every single particular to have a positive influence.

That's the reasonable approach, and it seemed entirely remote that the software industry would ever do the reasonable thing.

Then came November and December, and two remarkable things happened.

The first was the launch of the Nintendo Wii. Almost overnight, the gaming demographic changed. Everyone, it seemed, was trying the Wii, and everyone was having a great time. It's much harder to bash games when Grandma is carrying a 235 average in bowling when she plays Wii Sports. With the Wii, games were fun in a way that non-gamers could enjoy. The stereotype of the "angry young man gamer" suddenly seemed very silly.

The second remarkable thing happened in early December. Witch hunters Hillary Clinton and Joe Liebermann announced a partnership with the ESRB on a series of public service announcements to better educate parents on the game rating system.

What? Cooperation? Common ground?

And with that, it seems that the rope has been put away.

Site Meter