To start with an off topic rant (you can skip to the next section for al the practical info ⬇️), this weekend a group of us debated on how naïve the international games industry still is, compared to the international bodies like the WHO, or the businesses like Apple and Meta – or the tobacco industry.
As a thought experiment, we wondered how WHO would have responded to the loot box drama from a few years back:
(1) Rename it.
In 2019/2022, when SARS2 got identified, WHO didn’t like that “S” stood for “severe” – and renamed it to COVID-19.
We, then, should rename loot boxes to something like Joytech 2.0. “Loot” belongs to casinos at worst, or rogue-likes games at best, while “joy” and “tech” are at the forefront of economic growth, and “2.0” sounds like there is some progress being made / that it’s been around forever (those football stickers!).
(2) Marginalise it.
When the South African scientists identified Omicron in Guateng, very few people said “good job, great labs!” – rather, the world was quick to associate the new VOC with the region that sequenced it first.
We, then, should blame a country that raised the concerns first – how about Belgium? Or Netherlands. See, this is not an industry problem, it’s “a problem that the Dutch have”. And like with Omicron, it’s “mild”, because Dutch have amazing economy and quality of life. Which goes to prove that
loot boxes Joytech 2.0 has no severe outcomes.
(3) Go through the motions.
We live in the world where one division of a tobacco company works hard to get new people to start smoking, while another division markets vaping as a way to quit smoking. and everyone’s fine with it.
Similarly, despite 49 countries reporting 4.5K monkeypox cases
by now, we have WHO both call an emergency meeting – and at the same time, stop short
of designating this as a PHEIC.
So we could, say, have a “World Congress on Joytech”? Where we’ll discuss the concerns, issue a statement criticising the Netherlands – then announce the creation of Joytech Friends, a special technology created to teach the kids how to
gamble get the most joy out of their tech.
Have we debated the issue? Certainly.
Did we come up with a solution? For sure.
Is this solution going to make the matter worse? You bet ;-).
All of this is just to say that as the games industry matures, we’re bound to come closer and closer to crossing the invisible ethical borders – whether it’s combining the legal practice in the games industry with helping Putin’s friends to attack journalists in the British courts (it took the war to escalate the issue
to the level of the Parliament), or promoting diversity and inclusivity while onboarding
state funds of countries where simply being gay is a crime.
No matter how you look at this, with the global nature of our industry it is a challenge. Sometimes you will change those things… and sometimes those things will change you.
I hope that we stay true to our original values, and don’t sell our integrity for a bit of extra money (that we want only to satisfy our ambition of… making more money?). Which is why as a part of the program for 2022, we plan to focus not only on the technical side – implementation and rules – but also on the philosophy that drives some of the most successful global games companies.
You may recall 2021’s discussion of M&A, where one team in particular said that their primary belief is to only work with people who really want to work with them – and enjoy the freedom to walk away at any moment. It felt like a stronger force of gravity than what a binding agreement may provide, and this year we’d like to explore more of this.
And now, onwards to the Summit –>