We Are Not the Gaming Industry

by Darius Kazemi on June 28, 2007

in breakingin,industry,vocab

I was reading a good article in the mainstream computer press on women in the game industry, when I noticed something in the comments section. Someone made a comment using the phrase “the gaming industry.” An anonymous poster rightly chastised him for using that phrase, as “game industry” is more correct. (I want to note briefly that the actual published article was very well-written and did not make this mistake.)

Hear me now, n00bs of the game development world: if you are writing a cover letter for your first industry job, or just interacting with potential employers, do not call it the “gaming industry.” That’s like applying to a job at Ford Motors and saying you’d love to work in the “driving industry.” You’ll look like an idiot. Don’t do it.

(UPDATE: reader Zach makes a good point that the “gaming industry” already refers to the gambling industry.)

Acceptable terms to use, in ascending order of awkwardness: game industry, games industry, video game industry, video games industry, game development industry, video game development industry.


Zach June 28, 2007 at 4:24 pm

The main thing wrong with the phrase ‘the gaming industry’ is that it in fact refers to the gambling industry.

Patrick June 28, 2007 at 6:11 pm

I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that we, Orbus Gameworks and True Vacuum respectively, are not technically a part of the game industry under the strictest lines of demarcation. Niether too are most casual and independent game developers, all the way to Three Rings. Would you consider these parties in the “game industry”, or in a sub-sector? Would Storytronics be considered part of the industry?

I think its a blessing that “game industry” has become such a fragmented and diverse umbrella for a stagnating core and a dozen bold alternatives.

Darius Kazemi June 28, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Patrick, I’d argue that any entity that makes money off of computer games is part of the industry. That could involve: making games, selling games, writing about games, supporting game developers, ad revenue off of a Flash game, etc.

Note that this is not an exclusive definition. I say “make money” is an important part because if you’re making any money off games, then you’re definitely in the industry. Doesn’t mean that if you’re not making money you aren’t–although you probably aren’t.

Now, the AAA game industry is totally another ball game with a very strict line of demarcation. I’d argue that Orbus is part of that because our staff comes from there and we target those companies. True Vacuum is certainly not a part of that (and is from all appearances proud of it).

Casey June 29, 2007 at 1:53 pm

So, the first thought I had when I read this was, “Oh f*ck… Have I done that?” I then proceeded to check at least the last two months worth of blogging I’d done and any papers I’d recently sent out to journals.

In the process I found two interesting links in my archives:

1.) Some notes I made about the Boston mayor wanting “more gaming companies” in the city.
2.) An Indian game industry analyst talking about the gaming industry.

Then of course I started thinking about the distinction itself a bit more. There were gaming (as in gambling machine) makers recruiting at GDC.

Natasha Schull another anthropologist who was studying the gaming industry and gamblers actually has some interesting insights that I think might be useful in thinking about the game industry.

So while it’s a useful distinction to be made, like most it is also a permeable kind of line, and as long as we’re talking about them it’s good. It’s when you stop talking about them and they become entrenched that you have a problem.

Actually… in light of recent addiction studies, I wonder if the game industry is thinking of distancing itself from the gaming industry, as gambling addiction is well documented.


Ian Schreiber July 1, 2007 at 3:26 am

Oh, gawd, let’s not go through the whole “who’s part of the game industry and who’s not” thing again. Did we learn nothing from David Jaffe’s blunder a couple years ago?

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