How can video games and developers achieve cultural 'legitimacy', and what does that even mean? In this feature
, Veteran developer Brian Green explores how it works in other disciplines, and ramifications for gaming.
Green outlines three primary areas that determine a medium's legitimacy, the first two of which are Financial Legitimacy, which asks if a medium is viable for business; and Artistic Legitimacy, which is determined by how people working in the medium see it as a creative vehicle. The third area is Cultural Legitimacy:
"Cultural Legitimacy indicates how much society respects the medium. Is the medium worthwhile to spend time on, like reading books, or is it considered a waste of time? In many western societies, we respect the concept of "freedom of speech", where we allow people the right to express themselves freely.
Many attacks on creative media have been halted because of the protections afforded by this freedom. Book burnings are often seen as something abhorrent, an attack on the legitimate medium of writing. Yet, some people don't see the same problem with limiting the sale of video games to the point of harm to the medium. This is usually influenced by the other two forms of legitimacy."
So, how do games measure up in these three types of legitimacy?
"Financially, we are accepted as being legitimate. This is one reason why every story in the mainstream news about computer games refers to the sales figures for the industry and compares it to movies. These figures are not entirely accurate, but it demonstrates to the news readers that the industry is worthy of mention in the news.
Artistically, we need to focus on improving our opinions of ourselves. We need to understand that we are working in a creative medium that affects people. By gaining artistic legitimacy, we help achieve cultural legitimacy as well.
Culturally, we are approaching legitimacy. There are adults now that have grown up with games. They do not see it as a scary new medium that threatens to corrupt children, because they know they were not corrupted by being exposed to games.
Some, though, may turn away from games for fear of being considered "childish" in the eyes of their peers. However, as long as lawmakers see restricting games as a way to gain political points, we are not culturally legitimate."
You can read the full feature
, which discusses why legitimacy should be important to game developers, and steps you can personally take towards helping the medium achieve legitimacy (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).