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Spector On The Gaming Class War

An micro-inter-RPS debate today was this august publication’s coverage of one W. Spector Esq. Leaving aside issues of platform prissiness, how justified are we in continuing to cover the bepullovered fellow’s words? He has moved to Wii development for the time being (although platforms for Ninja Gold, his still-unseen kicksplode collaboration with John Woo, remain undeclared), but at the same time there’s a big, tall, wobbly chance that RPS simply wouldn’t exist had the games Spector is most commonly associated with never come to pass. He’s a hard man to ignore here.

So let’s tip the collective hat one more time, mouse ears or not. Here’s Warren holding forth at the PAX conference, providing entertainments other than Duke Nukem’s thrusting denim-clad crotch. The question of the moment: why won’t gamers accept games for non-gamers?
Spector’s tack is to expand on brief comments in his recent GDC Europe keynote about the perceived chokehold of A Certain Type Of Gentleman (hello!) on videogames, and why he thinks it’s important for us to accept The Mainstream Other. While it’s pleasingly laden with proud prayers to geekdom and a clarion call to let creatives rather than marketeers define game production, the through-line is how he feels games should break away from their non-alpha-male roots.

“I worry that for all our geekdom, we might be putting our advances in jeopardy. We have a sense of brotherhood, a sense of being a tribe, a sense of being part of a revolution – and yet, for all the confidence and the cheering and the oohing and aahing… I’ve seen this happen a thousand times, when we go out in public… I’ve seen people sort of get insecure. It’s almost like we yearn to get accepted by mainstream media and yet once they start paying attention to us, once casual gamers start flocking to out world, we start complaining about it. We get upset when developers try to reach a broader audience.”

Part of me snarls at the coded self-aggrandising about making Mickey Mouse games that underpins what’s become a regular talking point for Spector – yes, we get it, you think/claim you’re doing this for noble reasons rather than because of all the enormous houses that can be bought with those meaty Disney dollars – but an equal-if-not-larger part of me agrees, thinks sadly upon how many times someone’s casually deployed the “dumbed down” misery-bomb in a comments thread here, and then wishes for a world in which traditional gamers embrace rather than rebuff attempts to make this fine hobby of ours accessible to more curious passers-by.

Another part of me rues how unwieldy the last paragraph is, before thinking “fuck it, the people who are going to have something interesting to say about this can deal with a few too many clauses.”

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Who am I?

Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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