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The "Question Of The Week" feature, a specific industry-related question to be answered by professional game developers reading this site, is asking whether Doug Lowenstein's incendiary comments about the game biz at D.I.C.E. were on target.
Specifically, in his final speech as President of trade body the Entertainment Software Association, Lowenstein suggested that developers who make controversial game content often refuse to stand behind their games in public:
"The publishers and developers who make controversial content and then cut and run when it comes time to defending their creative decisions... Nothing annoys me more. If you want the right to make what you want, if you want to push the envelope, I’m out there defending your right to do it. But, dammit, get out there and support the creative decisions you make."
He also directly criticized game professionals in the room for not joining the ESA-organized Video Game Voters Network, commenting:
"No one has bothered to take the time to do that, and it makes me sick. What is the problem? You can not expect this industry to grow and prosper if you’re not willing to take the time and effort to help it."
Lowenstein concluded: "No matter how good we are, and we’re good, we can’t win the war without an army. And you’re the army. And most of the people in this room who have the most at stake are too lazy to join this army... Don’t let others fight the fight for you, because in the end we won’t have enough soldiers to succeed."
Thus, the question for this week was:
"Is Doug Lowenstein fair in his farewell speech comments that game professionals are failing to stand up for their freedom? If he is, what should we each be doing to ensure that censorship is not an issue in the game industry?"
We now present to you your diverse set of ideas on Lowenstein's criticisms of the industry:
It is ultimately the responsibility of the publisher to defend their game. They are the most immediately affected financially, whether their game gets re-rated, dropped or they voluntarily pull it in the face of controversy, in their position of liaison with the retailer. Developers can gain some positive buzz from controversy, but the game not selling affects everyone.
Squeamish publishers should avoid controversial games if they cannot stomach defending it. Recognizing the disinterest in defending controversy would free the company to focus elsewhere, something more appropriate for how they want to be perceived. Voluntarily achieving this self-awareness would save a lot of people a lot of hassle in the long wrong, allowing developers to seek more appropriate publishers who, in their own self-discovery, realized they *do* want to be out there defending their titles.
The industry has to do this internally though, before it is done to us from outside.