Pure Play

At the re:play Conference, the Gaming World Longs for Legitimacy

The conference also addressed the long-standing criticism that games are essentially for the select few, what the industry calls the "core gamers" (which accounts for the Rodney Dangerfield effect). Core gamers are young, male, and of an economic standing that can support something that costs $50 a pop. In this context, it is difficult to argue that game reviews in general have the same force that perhaps a Janet Maslin film review may have had; or the same academic weight of J. Hoberman's pieces in the pages of the Voice.

Core gamers buy games more on the advice of a bulletin board discussion group, the Usenet, or their core gaming friends than they do by reading newspaper reviews. And though currently hot-selling football titles and shoot-'em-up twitch games are forging a larger market, that cannot support a continuing academic discussion. The games need to be incredibly dumbed down for the masses, and then there is consequently less art for critics to review.

Manetas, however, expresses the optimism that pervaded the conference. "The future of video games is our future," he says. "It is the future of our humanity."

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