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IGDA head: “Games are an art-form, pure and simple”

Monday, 8th April 2013 09:29 GMT By Dave Cook

International Game Developers Association head Kate Edwards has stressed that games are an art-form and that freedom of expression among the indie circuit – while potentially controversial – is a virtue the industry needs to retain.

Speaking with GI.biz Edwards discussed the dangers of indie games offending people from different cultures. The idea is that without proper localisation and less-restrictive submission rules on digital platforms, the margin for offence widens dramatically.

However, Edwards stressed that restricting the voice of indie coders would be to quash their right to artful expression, and underlined the shared belief that games are an art-form.

“Games are an art-form, pure and simple,” Edwards explained. “As an art-form they should be free to express whatever they want to express. Here in the US we’ve had the Supreme Court decision which protects games as free-speech, rightly so. So they shouldn’t have any limits put on them, like books don’t or movies don’t.

“Where the limit comes from is the goals. If your goal is to distribute worldwide, you’re probably going to want to think about the cultural impact. If your goal is to make a political statement then you need to do what you feel is right.

“The main thing that I do when I consult with developers, even now in the IGDA role, is to encourage them to be proactive and think about what they want to get out of it. I think developers should feel free to make what they want to make, to create what they want to create. But they can’t expect consumers in all markets to have that same understanding of creative freedom.

“As long as they understand that, and that to me is one of the things we can do as the IGDA, then they can go ahead. It’s like telling a painter ‘don’t paint that picture because it might offend someone.’ Most painters would laugh at that – it should be the same for game developers. Games are still progressing from the perception in society that they’re a toy, which can have defects and need to regulated, to that of an art-form.”

What do you make of the above? Should indie developers be able express themselves freely or should cultural consideration always be a factor? Let us know below.

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2 Comments

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  1. NinjaMidget

    I think it’s kind of key to point out in this article that she was a former ‘cultural and geopolitical strategist’ for microsoft: essentially advising developers if a characters’ costume ran contrary to some of the actions they would carry out etc.

    But by and large I’d say I would agree, although I think it depends largely on what the goal of development is. Something that should be regulated is a game including rape just because it’s shocking, that’s just plain stupid. Bioshock Infinite handles it well for instance with the ‘irish and coloured’ washrooms. It was essentially a product of it’s time and contrasts well with current societal beliefs that that is incredibly racist.

    I think developers should try and be aware of the consequences of what they implement in their games in the first place before any regulations should apply. I suppose the QA process tackles a lot of this as well though.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Gheritt White

    If BioShock Infinite isn’t art, I really don’t know what is.

    #2 1 year ago