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Feature: 'Henry Jenkins On Converging'

In today's extensive Gamasutra interview, we talk with MIT professor and author Henry Jenkins on the 'games as art' debate, Second Life's contribution to participa...

Simon Carless

November 23, 2006

2 Min Read

In today's extensive Gamasutra interview, we talk with MIT professor and author Henry Jenkins on the 'games as art' debate, Second Life's contribution to participatory culture, and how games are like bits of fur and silk in our desk drawers. When asked how he thinks the video game industry should change in the longer-term, Jenkins suggest: "I am saying nothing here that I have not heard from many others working in and around the games industry. Games are moving from an artisanal based economy to one grounded in major studios and that shift brings both advantages and disadvantages. Let's use Hollywood as a parallel case. The studio era in American film is one which many remember with great fondness for the outstanding quality of production overall. The floor is very high. There is a consistent quality to the films produced which is maintained across pretty much every title that was shipped. It is hard to find a bad film - at least a really bad film - made in 1939. But, if the floor is very high, the ceiling is surprisingly low. There is almost no room for individual expression. Even gifted filmmakers are making seven to ten feature films per year at the height of the studio era. They have almost no control over the titles they produce. Now, we can compare this with what has happened to American film with the collapse of the studio mode of production and the emergence of independent films or simply of a package system where each film is conceived on its own terms. There is much more room for stylistic innovation, much greater diversity, and more opportunities for distinctive artists to do their own kind of work. Yet, there are a great number of bad films made - maybe not in a technical sense, since the technical standards have continued to rise over all, but in terms of the quality of the scripts and performances, certainly. So, the floor dropped and the ceiling rose. Right now, we need to develop at least some greater space for independent or creator-controlled game projects which will bring about greater innovation, expression, and diversity. And we need to create more space at the center of the games industry for at least the best designers to do work that is uniquely their own." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including more from Jenkins' unique perspective (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

About the Author(s)

Simon Carless


Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.

He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.

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