Ten Ton Hammer:
While some games seem
to be able to hold their own without positive CSR, some also lose their
gamers when those players cannot get “unstuck” or
to much
“griefing”. Will customer service ever become more
of a
necessity than what it is today?

style="font-weight: bold;">Brian:
I don’t think so.  We’ve already seen
games get less
customer service as newer games have been unwilling to use volunteers
due to previous lawsuits.  The older games like UO and even
used to have player volunteers helping others out with simple
issues.  WoW does not use volunteers like this, and the level
customer support is less than what Meridian 59 had back when 3DO used
player volunteers.  Yet, it manages to be a widely popular

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M59 used to have player volunteers that helped new
players with simple issues.

think part of
the reason for this is because people are becoming more familiar with
this type of gameplay.  More people understand the basics of
game and can help others as they try out these games.  In
addition, there is more of a focus in making the games easier for new
players to learn, so you have a lot less confusion from new players.

games are
automating a lot of these simple issues.  Most games have some
variation of the “/stuck” command or a
teleportation item
to get you out bad game geometry.   Most games also
tools to ignore and/or report people who are harassing other players
through a standard system.  As we gain more experience,
we’ll be able to identify these issues and provide effective
solutions without requiring as much CSRs.

Ten Ton Hammer:
Legitimacy is also
something that you’ve been interested in. At IMGDC, you joked
that you tell your mom you’re a crack dealer so she will
you. How can video game designers and marketers bring legitimacy to the
gaming marketplace?

style="font-weight: bold;">Brian:
Legitimacy is a huge issue for me.  I want to see games
with the same respect as other creative media, such as movies or
books.  I think that games have as much expressive power as
media, and that game developers should not have to justify our work on
a regular basis.

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Comic books were restricted by the CCA due to a
congressional belief that the books corrupted children. It took titles
like Sandman, which wasn't restricted by the CCA, to prove that comic
books were a serious storytelling medium.

think it’s
instructive to look at the Hot Coffee incident.  From the
clips I
saw, there was nothing in the game I couldn’t see in some
movies.  GTA3’s rating, M for Mature, is roughly the
equivalent of an R rating in movies.  Yet, you don’t
congressional committees talking about topless women and implied sex
scenes in R-rated movies, do you?  No, because movies are seen
a legitimate medium.  What makes games
“illegitimate”?  Because they’re
seen as being
only for kids.

is a serious
threat of harm here.  Back in the days of comic books, the
Code Authority (CCA) restricted the content of comic books in response
to congressional committees worrying that comic books corrupt
children.  The result?  An industry that fell behind
and was
never given the chance to mature.  A shame because after
classics like Sandman or Watchmen, you can see how much potential
comics have as a serious storytelling medium.  Yet, today, we
that manga is gaining a huge following with young adults in the
U.S.  It’s interesting to note that Japan never had
the CCA
to harm the industry and allowed the medium as a whole to mature and

think that the
number one thing we have to do is show that video games are not just
for children.  Note that this does not mean we cannot make
for children, rather that we need to focus on games for older gamers as
well.  As game designers, I think the best thing we can do is
focus more on including “mature” topics in our
without resorting to the usual tools of hyperviolence and sexual
titillation that passes for “mature” in our games,
worse, for marketing for our games.  A game that deals
with relationships, loss, or other topics that are important in other
media would help a lot.  We have some of them already, but
are the exceptions.  As long as developers continue to make
“typical” games, we will have to fear government

think that indie
developers are the beacon of hope here.  As I mentioned
they can take risks and try innovative things.  It’s
easy to do that if you’re just another developer at a large
company that has shareholders to appease.

developers, I think the press has to get more involved, too. 
I’m glad that the press was able to attend the Indie MMO
convention and report on it.  I think the press has a role in
showing people there are games outside of the mainstream, big-budget
games with massive marketing campaigns.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016