SpyParty dev on the "cultural ghetto" of gaming: "we have to make games about different stuff"

Chris Hecker is the man behind the wonderfully tense sniper vs. spy game, Spy Party . He's been talking to Wired's Andy Robinson about his concerns that the game industry is in danger of falling into a "cultural ghetto" akin to insular world of comic books.

"There's a small group of people in the game industry that think games have the potential to be the preeminent art and entertainment form of the 21st century," he said. "The way film was to the 20th century -- and that wasn't because film was better than painting or literature but still it became the one big forms that spoke to society and had a huge impact."

"Some of us think that games can be that in the 21st century if we don't screw them up like comic books got screwed up with too many superheroes. There are still great comic books but they are kind of in a cultural ghetto."

It's an interesting thought. Superheroes were successful enough for comics to become profitable, but they became the sole point of contact for casual observers. To the mainstream gaze the vast potential and variety of the medium was hidden away behind the capes and wild colours of an army of iconic superheroes. Are games headed for the same fate? Glance into the window of a game store and you'll find yourself bombarded by dozens of different representations of the same adolescent male power fantasy.

Of course, we all know that that's not all that games are. From Minecraft to Civilization, to Portal and Braid. There are countless marvellous examples of titles that could sit happily in any home, entertaining and moving families, politicians, plumbers, dentists, anyone . Why does it feel like the hidden gems that could entertain wide audiences are hidden away behind an array of angry, glaring soldier men?

As Hecker more elegantly puts it, you "go into a game store and you have a choice about killing orcs, or guys in armour. It's clear we have to make games about different stuff."

What do you think, are games in danger of becoming too insular and alienating for new players? Let's think of it as a Friday afternoon talking point. We should get a jingle for it. Doo be doo be do wah GO!

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.