In one of the more controversial panels at GDC 2009, Heather Chaplin, co-author of the excellent Smartbomb, had some strong words for the development community. The panel was called "Burned by Friendly Fire: Game Critics Rant" (also featuring X-Play's Adam Sessler!) and Chaplin's message was simple: grow up. She earnestly wishes that game developers would grow up so that their works will be taken more seriously by the mainstream media, Chaplin said:
MTV Multiplayer added, "She singled Bleszinski out in her talk, saying she liked him, but that she was distressed by how juvenile most major games are. She dismissed top games as 'power fantasies' and charged the games industry with neoteny." That last quote made more of an impact once I found out what neoteny meant.
Seriously though, Chaplin is tired of hearing "games are a new medium" used as an excuse. Personally, I'm a little torn on the matter. I agree with part of her point, but I also believe that the so-called immaturity is part of the business' charm. I got into this side of the industry because I grew up with games and thought it was absolutely ridiculous that I could make a living writing about them. I stayed because I still love games and the business helps make sure that I never have to grow up.
I fully admit that I approach Chaplin's words with caution -- she's a friend whom I respect greatly (I also thought my charming immaturity is what brought us together). I further admit that if it was someone I didn't know, I wouldn't take these words seriously and would assume that it's just another person trying to bash the business. However, I know Heather and I know that she has tremendous respect for game creators. While it might seem like her words are overly harsh, I believe that it's because she wants game designers to progress and get the respect they deserve.
Since I'm torn on the matter, I shall ask you: does Chaplin have a point? To game designers need to grow up? Do their works need to evolve to something more than just "power fantasies"? Leave a comment and let me know (please)!