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Feature: 'But Seriously Folks: Austin Game Developers Panel'

Today's main Gamasutra feature covers the latest Austin Game Developers meeting, taking place at Dave & Buster's on March 10, 2006, and seeing speakers including Wolfpack...
Today's main Gamasutra feature covers the latest Austin Game Developers meeting, taking place at Dave & Buster's on March 10, 2006, and seeing speakers including Wolfpack's Damion Schubert, Junction Point's Allen Varney and NCSoft's Scott Jennings discussing whether and how video games are important to society at large. According to journalist and blogger John Henderson, who covered the session for Gamasutra: "The jumping-off point for all conversations were Ebert's comments to a user who questioned his earlier thoughts about video games not measuring up, for the sake of overall society, to other forms of entertainment. McShaffry said his favorite clause of Ebert's was the last: “video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.”... Pointing out that IMDB has a long list of movies that don't rise beyond a waste of time, McShaffry then asked the panel if gaming has it's own “Schindler's List,” and if not, should anyone care? “Does that mean you want to put concentration camps in a game?” Jennings cracked before replying seriously that he does care about how games he works on are regarded, and even if he ends up working on “the game equivalent of Barb Wire,” that it be relevant to someone. Schindler's List, Schubert pointed out, is a “very heavy film” to begin with, but more importantly is a non-interactive story. Games, being interactive, are meant to tell stories in a different way, by giving their audiences a participatory experience. Instead of watching a movie about the horrors of war, a gamer can play Civilization and see what happens to an area of the world. He quoted Wil Wright, who has said that his creation The Sims is an indictment of materialism, that eventually the in-game characters can buy more items than they can stand to keep. Varney added that Wright's earlier game, SimCity, teaches the fallacy of traffic control by adding more roads. Varney then suggested that mass-market games generally have a narrower set of values to explore, given that their target audience is usually teen-aged boys. Maybe more games should explore a broader set of values, he said." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including more on this intriguing meeting of minds (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).

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