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Jo Twist: Games industry needs to "step up" to fight cultural bias

UKIE CEO warns critics and publishers to be careful with their language, says games are "an easy target because we're new"

UKIE CEO Jo Twist has said the games industry needs to be more careful with how it uses words like "addictive" and "gaming."

Speaking at Develop:Brighton last week, Twist made the case of more considered use of language as the industry finds itself under renewed scrutiny from lawmakers and the media.

"People who know me know that I care about words a lot; semantics and language matters," she said. "I get really annoyed when I see game reviews and they say [this game is addictive], when actually what they mean is, 'this game is really well designed, this game is good, you should play this game.'

"It's not fucking addictive. We need to mind our language when we're using these words because, unfortunately, what happens is the public sphere, politicians, press, people who don't understand games, listen to this, and they believe us when we say, instead of this is a really good game or a really well designed game, it's addictive."

Terms like "gamer" and "gaming" also don't help, Twist suggested, noting that most people wouldn't describe themselves as a "gamer" despite playing games.

"Gaming" meanwhile, is more closely associated with the gambling industry or "gaming the system."

"I hate these words, and I think it's really time that we did think about this quite seriously because it's our responsibility not just to respond to some of these narratives, but to shape the narrative ourselves," Twist continued.

"We are in charge of the most powerful communications system of the 21st century; games are really important to us, it's our responsibility to shape how we talk about this."

Twist argued that there is a "cultural bias" against the games industry saying, "We're an easy target, because we're new."

"If we're going to be morally panicking about things that we do in games, then we've got to extend that moral panic... We do need to think about the analogue world," she said, referring to things like the LOL Surprise Dolls or Kinder Surprise Eggs.

"We can't be separated just because we're digital, just because you might not understand us. This is a bias, a cultural bias."

The recent challenges facing the games industry, such as the loot box debacle, the World Health Organisation gaming disorder classification, and the ongoing DCMS inquiry are "part of our cultural birthing pains" said Twist.

"We've got to just step up and go, 'Okay, listen, this is a cultural bias you have'," she continued. "It's not necessarily generational, but it is going to evolve. People will understand that this is the way this world works... it's how people choose to be entertained, as well as watching Netflix as well as watching these things that we call TV. It's just part of our culture now."

GamesIndustry.biz is a media partner for Develop:Brighton 2019 and attended with the help of the organisers

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Latest comments (2)

Rick Raymo Founder & CEO, Self-EmplyedA year ago
Absolutely.

Concur.

Grin.
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Laura Millar Artist and Director, High Tea Frog LtdA year ago
Great article - Jo is always the voice of reason!
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