Games don't reflect the feelings of consumers - Lanning

Tech race holding things back?

President of Oddworld, Lorne Lanning, has told our sister site GamesIndustry.biz that the majority of videogames do not reflect the passionate feelings held by consumers.

Lanning believes the race to develop new technology is holding back videogames from developing as a true cultural artform.

And he pointed to recent steps by the Videogame Voters Network as a prime example of an industry out of touch with its own consumers.

"We're constantly under attack in the industry by politicians looking for cheap headlines, which is a very easy target. But all of a sudden we have the Videogame Voters Network which starts up and the politicians see that when they attack games they get hundreds of thousands of emails letting them know they're being watched," said Lanning.

"Here's a sector of the population that has a lot of strong feelings, but for the most part the games medium isn't reflecting any of that. What's popular in the game medium is just reflecting the propaganda line - 'These are the bad terrorists, go kill them.' Are we adding to the desensitisation or doing something to sensitise an issue and make the experience richer and give it more meaning?" he asked.

Lanning feels that opportunities are wasted in the games industry to really discuss the medium and its ability to inspire. He suggests that developers are too busy creating new features and new technology to look at the bigger picture of games as part of the cultural landscape.

"The audience isn't aware that you're rewriting all your tools, they just know that when they buy a 360 game it's similar to the last Xbox but with better graphics," he said. "The reason isn't because the industry is devoid of creative people, the reason is that the barrier to entry is so high, and the price to develop those new tools, as well as a title in the first quarter for release on a new platform, is so risky."

While Microsoft and Sony battle each other for dominance over new technology formats, Lanning believes that Nintendo is taking greater steps to expand gaming for developers, as well as consumers.

"Nintendo is showing some real intelligence and sensitivity in that respect because if you've developed on GameCube it's a pretty straightforward transition onto 'Nintendo next-gen', because the Wii is very similar but with more power.

"We could argue about whether it's enough power, but that's not the point. The point is that it should be an evolutionary process," he said.

The first half of the two-part interview with Lorne Lanning can be read on GamesIndustry.biz.

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