From the official press event on September 24.
The Vienna Game City, Austria’s biggest Video Game convention, is going into its eighth iteration this year. The convention will be taking place at the epic Vienna City Hall from October 10-12, 2014.
Major platform and big industry developers will be presenting their latest titles and upcoming releases. Amongst them Nintendo, EA, Bethesda, Sony, Konami, Microsoft and Ubisoft to name a few.
Judging from previous events, the convention is an enthralling experience, and I got a chance to delve a little deeper, so let’s get into the nitty gritty.
Initiatives to teach children and their parents about game design, playability, and social aspects of gaming as a catalyst for the educational potential of gaming both digital and analog (for example traditional board games), will be available at the wienXtra-Kinderzone. This is a positive and often underrepresented aspect of gaming and I am glad it is being embraced.
Some attention will be given to local developers, which is exciting! What is the Austrian scene up to? What are they working on? Can’t wait to find out more. Triple A titles are lovely and all, but I would really enjoy a bigger spotlight on the local development scene. Furthermore there will be some Meta-Gaming events like the F.R.O.G. (Future and Reality of Gaming) Forum that delves a little deeper into the psychology of games and of course the ever popular Cosplay parade!
The E-sports scene is represented in the form of the Austrian Masters, where the best Hearthstone, Dota II and Starcraft II players will be facing off against each other. A Console Championship series featuring Fifa 2014, PES 2013, Killer Instinct and Forza 5. There will finally be an open competition for students from all around Austria to compete across several platforms and games. This is a great initiative to give kids the chance to participate in organized, fair and healthy competition.
No awareness or focus is placed on major issues like big-data collection, security breaches of major networks, always online shtick, „broken“ games, forced social media exposure, extreme franchising. Yes i realize that this is a „Consumer-Event“ and not an IT security conference, yet as the lines between varying industries blur and the interconnectivity increases I feel that it is ever more important to at least address the issues that are being discussed within the gaming/tech communities. These are not necessarily issues that are born „in-game“ or pertain to the technical achievements or flaws of the development process, but are born from within the community of gamers that are often forced to use platforms whose security they often have little knowledge about. Telling me that you, as a representative of the industry, have „No Answer“ is not a constructive use of my time.
Topics like Cyber-Mobbing and Ethics in games are interesting and viable subjects indeed, but they stem mostly from within the community and are by-products of society not limited to gaming. They are not inherently new issues. Something that saddened me somewhat is that it appeared to me that the F.R.O.G. forum was significantly reduced in its scope.
Are major game labels truly game makers or are they just massive data collection platforms that exist solely to monitor our consumer behaviour, haphazardly dealing with personal security and our online presence without shedding light on the possible dangers? The omnipotent message „Game Experience may change during online play“ seems more cynical every time it pops up. How beneficial is it to the player that almost every new game basically forces some kind of „always online“ or social media integration onto you? What is our data being used for, how strong is our input, how big are the security concerns? If Jimmy’s Mom uses her credit card to buy Jimmy the latest Battlefield game and she is wholly unaware that the PSN network has major security flaws and ……….. yeah it’s an old story, you know what I’m getting at.
Make no mistake, this is above all a marketing event. You will receive a well presented and well planned out „experience“ that leads you to appreciate the craftsmanship and flashiness that games possess, while ignoring questions of security and consumer protection. In a way this is to be expected, you can not blame companies for wanting to make money. Without certain practices it would be impossible to convince the consumer to keep buying into it. With competition being as stiff as it is this may even be a blessing in disguise buoying the development of a wide range of games and art styles as well as facilitating a strong pull towards independently developed titles in order to break the status quo.
That being said, I think that apart from the issues of censorship, gerrymandering and data collection that plague the digital and media industries, this is a positive, well-organized and most importantly fun event. It is a fantastic thing that the city of Vienna has embraced gaming as a significant cultural contributor and that is has allocated so much time and effort to bringing an event of this scope to the masses for free. I believe in making an event such as this so accessible to both parents and children they must also seek to reassure pressing concerns in the media about how their personal details may be managed beyond simply purchasing their product. So by all means, go there, check it out, prepare to be amazed by the awesome artistic and creative power of video games but be wary that not everything may be just as hunkydory as it seems to be on the surface. Stay tuned.
At the time of this writing I am not a representative of the gaming industry but rather a member of the independent press operating mostly within Austrian music/video scene. This is my first official foreay into a major gaming industry event and thus what I write should be treated as opinion/subjective more than anything else so take it with a pinch of salt. I am however an avid gamer/modder/content creator and most importantly a lover of l33t shit and general gosuness.
So the FCC won’t let me be
Or let me be me, so let me see
They try to shut me down on MTV
But it feels so empty without me
– written by zer0e