The capital arms race in entertainment - and why we should abandon it

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Title is a riff on Andreas Papathanasis’ The tech arms race in AAA - and why I’m abandoning it which argues that big budget game development is taking on more cost and risk to achieve technical improvements (e.g., more visual realism) at the expense of innovation in gameplay and fun.

The essay is interesting throughout, including a mention that aping Hollywood is one of several reasons for the arms race. It doesn’t mention IP or public policy at all. It is about what smaller teams should do in face of the AAA tech arms race. But this decision can be uplifted to public policy, with implications far greater than innovation in gameplay and the enjoyment of gamers (though those are important considering the bazillion hours humans spend playing computer games).

Should public policy in the form of IP work against freedom, equality, and security in order to enable big budget entertainment products, including Hollywood blockbusters and AAA games?

If protecting the highest political values were not enough, further weighing in on a “no” answer: low budget entertainment products can still be fun and innovative, and we’ll love them as we love the culture we’re immersed in. We’ll still love culture if it does not include ultra realistic action games and movies and other heavily marketed forms.

One way to nudge policy imagination in this direction is to crack the nut of peer production of cultural relevance (i.e., compete on distribution and marketing) of premium and libre games and movies.


My gaming group (loosely collecting people I know that game) have for the most part rejected modern AAA games. It is common to hear folks mention how shorter games have gotten, as they’ve become higher resolution.

I am personally interested not in older games, but FOSS game engines that produce the results associated with older styles of game play, because I see that as an easier way to peer production of games; even if we have all the tools for making advanced modeling used in games (and we do), it is still prohibitive for many “peers” to get into.

You can tell that I didn’t read the article, because what I described could be described as an arms race. :slight_smile:

Well I suspect you got the gist of the article, which doesn’t explicitly say but I think is defining arms race as more and bigger arms like battleships in the early part of the 1900s and nuclear weapons in the late middle part. But yes everything can be taken as part of an evolutionary arms race, and changing the objective to favor peer production is a must. In addition to helping change the objective in such a fashion, I suspect what your gaming group is doing is good for personal survival, with the opponent being addiction.