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Warren Spector: Will the real future please stand up?

Jennie Lees

Back in November, Warren Spector caused something of a stir with his comments about the state of the games industry, including an aside slamming Grand Theft Auto. What Spector was really on about was the use of clichéd violence in mainstream gaming, and The Escapist has given him a soapbox to follow up on his speech from last year and elaborate.

He asks an important question: what's in store for the future of gaming? "Depending on how you look at things, you can paint a picture of gaming's bright future of growing profits and importance, or one of doom and gloom - of irrelevance and stagnation. Either could be true. Which future is our real future? Will we go mainstream or marginal?"

Gaming seems bound for the mainstream one way or another, but Spector addresses an overlooked possibility--that it will lose its mainstream appeal, and go back to the sidelines like so many media fads of the past have done. He outlines that gaming is at a crossroads at the moment, and the demands of a mainstream audience will cause game developers (and the industry as a whole) to make a series of crucial decisions in years to come.

Gaming won't die, but it's easy to agree with this point: It's just that it's relatively easy for me to imagine scenarios where mainstream audiences get sick of us, sick of the product we offer them, sick of repetitive, seemingly-but-not-really interactive, emotion-free, slam-bang, U.S.-centric, urban, hip hop action games and alien invasion scenarios.

Cliché-slamming and thought-provoking--it'll be interesting to see Spector's followup articles in future Escapist issues.

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