You might have seen it on Twitter, arguments cast in 140 characters or less. It may have been the sudden, vicious turn of a comment thread or the undertone of dissatisfaction in a headline. You might even have felt like this all along. Things are being challenged, conventions called to account.
Gender imbalance, the lack of inclusivity, the corruption of journalists, issues of maturity, sex and violence, copycatting, the exploitation of the customer – all these issues have been pushed to the fore over the last twelve months. Turned over and inside out, vaunted or ridiculed – there seems to have been barely time to draw breath this year between long, hard looks in the mirror.
For some it’s been a welcome change, the relief of realising that there are other people who feel just as angry, marginalised or outright excluded. For others it’s been an unwelcome distraction, unnecessary navel gazing which only leads to a pointless stirring of the pot and no real progress – frenzies whipped up by the press for cheap hits and self-glorification.
Whatever you feel about them, many have been almost impossible to ignore. Whether it’s the storm of abuse endured by Anita Sarkeesian, the crisis of confidence ignited by Rab Florence or marketing tactics which are somewhere on a scale between condemnable and very clever, this has been a year in which our industry has been pulled from many ruts, asked to reassess and re-examine.
How much has actually changed is debatable, but what is clear is that it’s unlikely we’re going to see these issues swept back under the carpet. Like it or not, these debates aren’t going away. We’ve hosted and participated in all of these discussions, and more, but we rarely get to comment on them directly. So, read on as we ask our international staff – was this the year that gaming grew up?