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).