The Digital Curtain- The Divide Between The People Who Make Games & The People Who Play Them - mbellacio Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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The Digital Curtain- The Divide Between The People Who Make Games & The People Who Play Them

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For those of you who know a little about world history, or have ever watched James Bond films, you may be aware of a little something called the Cold War. The Cold War was ofcourse a time of great tension and conflict between The United States and the USSR, but more specifically between the concepts of Democracy and Communism. In Eastern Europe, one of the manifestations of the cold war was something called the Iron Curtain, a geographical boundary  that cut Europe in half. That great divide was punctuated by what was then the Berlin Wall. It stood as a constant reminder of old simmering rivalries that stretched back to the first world war, and perhaps even earlier. There was a distinct inequity that was coupled with the presence of the Iron Curtain. It literally helped to perpetuate two standards of living for a population of people who ironically had so much in common.

I mention this because it has dawned on me, that even some twenty years after the Berlin Wall was torn down, there is no shortage of idealogical walls that exist in our world today. In the world of video games and digital entertainment, I believe that we have all been witness to the construction of a new kind of wall. I call it the Digital Curtain.

What is the Digital Curtain? It is a metaphorical divide between the people who are responsible for conceiving, creating and selling games, gaming hardware and the services that go with them. They may be people you love and revere, like Shigeru Miyamoto or Hideo Kojima. They may be people you loathe (I won't name names on that one).

At any rate, these are the people on the frontlines of the game industry. They've shed blood, sweat and tears. They've paid their dues. They KNOW the challenges that go with trying to make great games. And while many may argue that video games are not art, I would absolutely suggest that these people are artists without question. Making games requires a monumental degree of skill and creativity. Especially today. Video games today combine the very best gameplay mechanics with the cinematic flair and polish of blockbuster hollywood productions.

But on the other side of that Digital Curtain, is the gamer. The loyal consumer who has helped grow and support an entire industry and the professionals who work within it. Some of these gamers grow up to cross that great divide and become one of the great minds that create ingenious games or foster much needed change. Both parties on either side of the Digital Curtain are vitally important. As was the case with the Berlin Wall, there wer all sorts of people living on either side of it. You could not justifiably condemn or praise either side.

So it is with gaming. Something has gone wrong over the years. Perhaps as a backlash to the collapse of the music and film industry, or piracy, or changes forced upon us all by the relentless push of technology. Those who are the producers of creative content, whether it be films, music, or games live an increasingly rarified existence due to the nature of the very work they do. Not many people get to indulge their creative tendencies and invest copious amounts of time imagining the next great thing. To work in a creative field is a tremendous privilege and... a great burden.

There is the challenge of remaining in touch with the real world. Part of this is due to the fact that creative types tend to draw the world not as they actually see it, but as they would like it to be. And those visions can vary sharply depending on who you talk to.

But too much fantasy, too much of a dive into the imaginary can have it's consequences. Sometimes creative types can begin to live in the very worlds they create, and adapt views and attitudes that gradually become more and more disconnected from what is real.

It seems that as of late, many on the creative side, the production side, view gamers with increasing negativity. From their vantage point, gamers are insatiable, ungrateful, criminal, dishonest and in desperate need of monitoring and control. On the other side, you have the gamers. To their way of thinking, those on the creative/production side are greedy, arrogant, dishonest, and also in need of control and monitoring.

The war of words and embitterment rages on year after year. Where does it end?

That question is such a broad one, I could not confidently say that I am qualified to answer it. But, I can try. To understand the solution to such a problem, you must understand human nature and it's endless quirks and nuances. Why do people fight? What gives rise to conflict? Usually, at the root of most bitter conflicts is fear. Fear of loss. Whether it's power, or resources, or respect, or love, humans fear losing things. And yet, if there is any one truth about life, it is that one day we will all lose everything. Everything gets left behind at some point. And sometimes, you lose things even faster in the process of trying to hold onto them. So how does that analogy relate to gaming?

Both sides are going to have to give a little, and realize that they both have much to lose. Those on the creative/production side are going to have to relent and realize that they can't force their way. Those on the other side have to relent and accept that some change is inevitable, and not all change is bad.

At the end of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall fell, and many felt it was the beginning of a new era. Many great minds have speculated on what led to the events of that momentous day. I like to think that humans have a built-in invisible threshhold for too much conflict. A certain inner part of themselves that becomes fatigued with ceasless rivalry and contention, and is able to see that cooperation is better than division. In my opinion, we just need more of that spirit in the world today. One can hope.

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