Why Am I Here?

If I am going to start a new web page, I suppose my first post should explain my reasoning for creating it.  As many of you know, I’ve had two shows in the past.  The first was about bad games, and the second was about budget games.  While these were fun, I realized that I needed to move on to something a little bigger.

The “Gaming On A Budget” show consisted of two parts.  The first was a commentary on game design, game flavor, and social aspects of gaming.  The second was a review of a budget game title.

As the show progressed, I ran into four problems:

1)  Development Time: I found the process for developing the videos was getting too long.  In addition to working full time, I was providing sprite support for the Kickle Cubicle project, developing a tabletop card game, and working on several personal video projects.  When I decided to go back to school, I knew that something had to give.

2) Relevance:  At PAX, I had a discussion with Yuzo about press badges, and the topic of show relevance came up.  I realized, in time, that one of the big problems with the show was that most of the budget games out there have become budget games because enough time has passed.  If I continue to review only these games, my show will never be relevant to today’s market.  This would limit my accessibility at various game conventions and shows, and would stifle the quality of interviews that I could provide to the community.

3) Constraints:  Many of the games I wanted to discuss couldn’t fall into the “budget” category, even after a considerable amount of time has passed.  Ico, Mario Kart Wii, Agricola, and Professor Layton are all outstanding games, but their sustained price tags make them out of bounds for the show.

4) Copyrighted Content:  Much of the content that I initially used on the show was copyrighted.  This includes music for closing credits, cut scenes, video clips, and so on.  I won’t even try to argue fair use.  When it was a weekend hobby, I was a bit too liberal with the content.  I want the show to be something more now, but if I want to get a director’s account on YouTube I need to have content that can stand before the increased scrutiny those accounts receive.  I don’t want to take down the original videos, so I’m probably going to need to open a new channel.

The first problem I tried to tackle was the excessive development times.  I knew that I wanted to cut the show in half.  The question was, which half should I remove?  If I cut out the commentary, I would be removing the one element that made the show universally relevant.  If I removed the game reviews, it would no longer make sense to call the show “Gaming on a Budget.”

The End of Gaming On A Budget

Initially, and mistakenly, I tried to drop the commentary and continue with the reviews.  I really liked the show name, and I wanted to preserve it if possible.  My subscribers enjoyed the reviews, but I received a LOT of negative feedback for dropping the commentaries.  They were very clear that they preferred the commentary to the reviews.  The fans are more important to me than the title of the show, so I decided to bring back the commentary and remove the reviews.

The question now was, what should I call the show?

I knew that I wanted to change the show, but was unsure how.  I would soon learn.

It was about that time that I saw this video about the problems of violence in video games.

I wrote to the noobtoob modcast about it:

Hello, Modcast.

I recently saw a video posted on noobtoob about how games cause violence, corrupt the youth, etc.  I was frustrated by the gentlemen arguing for the games; he didn’t seem to be selling the message in a way that was meaningful to the mainstream media.

This got me thinking; it seems that most of the game advocates out there (Penny Arcade, Yuzo and Tobin, etc) are preaching to the choir.  I think the thing that we are missing is an advocate that can explain why games matter to the mainstream public.  This is a problem because all of the gaming opponents (Jack Thompson, Dave Grossman, etc) tend to communicate well with the mainstream media.  Yes, any gamer can counter their arguments in terms that other gamers will understand, but who do we have defending and justifying the art form to the non-gaming public?

So my question is: Who, if anyone, are our evangelists/missionaries/ambassadors to the outside world?  Who is getting the word out to non-gamers about the artistic, educational, cultural, and social value of games?

Their answer can be found here, toward the end of the show.

The answer was discouraging because it re-affirmed what I already feared: there are few major mainstream advocates for games.  At the same time, it was a strong motivator because it identified a gap that needed to be filled.  Based on this, I now know what I need to do: my new show must be about why games matter.

From the Ashes: Why Games Matter

This is the reason why Gaming on a Budget must come to an end, and why I haven’t been active over the last few weeks.  I have started this blog, and my new YouTube channel is WhyGamesMatter, with each first letter capitalized.  If you go to that channel now, you will see my first video.

Thank you to everyone that has supported the show.  I may occasionally produce game reviews and personal videos on my personal channel, but most of my work is going to be on WhyGamesMatter.  I look forward to seeing you there.