During a journalist rant session at GDC last week, Heather Chaplin, a writer who covers the games industry for grown-up outlets like NPR, railed against what she sees as a business dominated by "stunted adolescents."
"You aren't men," Chaplin told developers. "You are stunted adolescents."
Chaplin, the author of Smartbomb and a reporter for National Public Radio, says she's frequently put in the position of a "translator" who has to explain to people why exactly games matter and shouldn't be derided as anything more than manboy power fantasies. It's understandably hard to do that when games are frequently about killing hordes of aliens or barely-dressed babes or killing hordes of aliens while playing as barely-dressed babes.
So Chaplin's tired of it. No more excuses. You can't say games are only like this because it's a young medium, she argued. Back when they were around the same age, film was on the eve of Citizen Kane, and rock n' roll already had The Beatles and Bob Dylan. Well, I'd argue that 60's Dylan was as much of a stunted adolescent as Cliff Bleszinski, but that's an argument for another day.
Chaplin's point is that it's not the medium that's the problem, it's the people who are shaping it. "It is you guys as game designers who are deeply mired in 'guy culture,'" she said. Guy culture, you know, big dudes with big guns and thin chicks with big boobs, instead of things like responsibility, introspection and intellectual growth.
"When you're talking about culture-makers, this is a problem," Chaplin remarked.
So, what do you guys think? Do games need to grow up, have they already grown up, will they never grow up, or is this all just a bunch of nonsense? I sympathize with Chaplin's position and admire her vehemence, but I'm inclined to not agree entirely. I mean, did you play Gears of War 2? Dom looking for his wife? That was some seriously mature stuff. I cried. Guess some people didn't.