Remember: people are lazy

I’m sure last week’s BAFTA Games Awards were a fitting celebration of the medium. They’re good, games, aren’t they? But they aren’t going to become the dominant entertainment medium, no matter what Stephen Moffatt or Carol Vorderman might have said. The following column was first published on the site in 2005, and another airing seems appropriate. Mainly because I’m lazy.

I get sick to the back teeth of people barking the prophecy that games will eventually usurp movies as the standard entertainment medium. Never mind that people surely watch more TV than films – it’s obviously wrong on more interesting levels than that.

Take-Two’s Dan Houser is a good example of such a barker, in that he was the first one I found. In an interview with the New York Times, he said: “Games are going to take over from movies as the mainstream form of entertainment, but why is that happening? Well, books tell you something. Movies show you something. But games let you do something.”

Wrong, Dougie. Games make you do something.

His view of the evolution from books to games is wonky. This is how I see it. You have to read books. Radio takes away the reading, but you still have to imagine the visuals. TV and films feed you everything you need with no effort required on the part of the viewer. Games are effort. People don’t want that. People want to watch Eastenders.

Or at least, adults do. Maybe this is the reason that children tend to play more games, but often grow out of it: they can be arsed. They have energy to spare, and more specifically they don’t have full time jobs.

Crazes like Sudoku suggest that people do want to do stuff sometimes, especially if all the papers are telling them that they should be doing it. But the people who do a Sudoku on the train still go home and watch three hours of X-Factor repeats on ITV2.

Whatever happens, people in general will always want to spend more time doing nothing than something. TV and movies fall into the former category, games the latter. Games might grow in popularity, but dominate the entertainment landscape? Piss off.

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