For a man who spent more than 13 years making video game advocacy his life, Doug Lowenstein now rarely gives them a second thought.
Gamasutra caught up with Lowenstein for an interesting interview, tied to the fact that he will be recognized at D.I.C.E. in Febraury by the Academy for Interactive Arts and Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his years with the Entertainment Software Association (founded in 1994 as the Interactive Digital Software Association).
A former journalist that loved to argue First Amendment issues, Lowenstein said the video game needs to continue to be vigilant in standing up for itself on those grounds:
"I personally feel that any industry that is dependent on creative expression — which at the core, are what games are all about — should allow for unfettered opportunity to pursue whatever artistic vision one may have. This industry and any sort of entertainment industry must defend this to the fullest extent possible. If there’s any erosion of that, it’s a classic slippery slope. The First Amendment needs to stand tall. The industry can never get lazy about defending those rights."
Lowenstein admits that he doesn’t keep up with the industry that much any more, but he said it seems that it is starting to get a foothold of acceptance as a form of expression:
"It seems … that there is more acceptance and tolerance, if you will, across the political spectrum for the game community in terms of the content it creates. It doesn’t appear that there’s the same level of effort to regulate games and game sales. It doesn’t appear that politicians are routinely announcing games and game violence and its allegedly corrosive effect on young people and other users."
It doesn’t appear that the gadflies and the critics of the industry have the same traction that they did three years ago. It doesn’t seem that the media is as obsessed with the industry in terms of the negative bias that it brought to theses issues."
Despite the fact that the industry does not seem to be taking as many slings and arrows it once did, Lowenstein said that associations such as the ESA can’t afford to be complacent:
"Even when you’re not in the midst of some intense controversy that goes to the core of what the industry is, the absence of that doesn’t make the association any less relevant. When people start thinking that, that’s a very dangerous and myopic point of view."
Overall, a pretty good interview from a guy that used to eat, sleep and breathe video games for a living.