Molyneux: Industry ‘Failed’ To Make Gaming Entertainment

A few weeks ago I went to a reading of several local writers. One of the writers was a very nice, but obviously washed up middle aged rocker who clearly came of age during the punk rock days of the 1970s, and still thinks that the things which were true about her generation are true for kids today, which made the piece she read about Occupy Wall Street hilarious. In her mind, Occupy Wall Street was this thing that apparently has direct ties to the leftist activists of the 1960s. She talked about it as though it were a boomer-driven phenomenon, and as though these kids today – you know, the millenials who made up like 99%* of the OWS movement? – were apathetic and detached and needed to be inspired to get involved, just like her generation did.

It was maddening, and I was reminded of that when reading some interesting, but (I think) ultimately mistaken comments by Peter Molyneux in an interview with GI. Speaking generally, Molyneux offered this unusual assessment of the state of the gaming industry:

“Back in the ’80s, the dream that we all had in this industry was that we would be truly another form of entertainment,” he said. “You know what? To a certain extent we failed on that dream. We failed in it because we’ve made some fantastic experiences for a very small number of people. Now is the opportunity to make fantastic, amazing, unique experiences, to use all this technology to make amazing, delightful, incredible worlds for millions of people.”

I wish they’d pushed him to elaborate on that point, because I am absolutely dying to know what the hell Molyneux is talking about here. Perhaps there’s some nuance that makes this crazy comment sound less like nonsense, and guaranteed, if I ever manage to meet him, I’m going to ask. I’m not sure how you can call the 22+ million people who bought Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas a small group. For a more recent example, I’m fairly certain that 26 million copies of Modern Warfare 3 isn’t exactly something to sneeze at either. Even less spectacularly successful games appealing to different kinds of people routinely sell in the millions of copies, and most of them also achieve their goal of being fun. And let’s not forget the fact that gaming has out-earned movies and music at several points over the last decade and is probably the current healthiest, from a profit perspective, entertainment platform in the country. Really, as far as being an entertainment form, video games are already some next level sh*t y’all.

Perhaps the failure he refers to is the fact that the games which have become culturally shared experiences aren’t extremely challenging, intellectually complex creations that push the boundaries of art? Well I hate to break it to him, but welcome to the history of every entertainment and art medium ever, like since the first cromagnon painted boobies on a cave wall, and subsequently drove the guy who painted a blistering representation of the ox god into bankruptcy.

* See what I did there?

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1 Comment on Molyneux: Industry ‘Failed’ To Make Gaming Entertainment


On November 16, 2012 at 11:27 am

I’m with you on this, Ross. I would like him to elaborate because saying something as broad as, “game’s aren’t entertaining” seems wrong in light of how many people play games. I’m sure he has some sort of personal definition of what this means, but on its face, I can’t agree with him.