We've finished day one of the annual DICE Summit this year, where video game leaders discuss the latest trends in the industry. And there are a lot of trends in the video game industry this year, which cast a large shadow over the day's talks. Everything from diversity to games as services were touched upon by the line-up of speakers, and it highlights the palpable sense of change in the air.
The summit opened with an opening keynote from Microsoft's Xbox head Phil Spencer who delivered a rather frank message: toxicity is a threat to our industry. He cited messages he's received from black, women, and other minority gamers who hide their identities online in order to avoid harassment. This behavior, or rather the actions of players online that lead to certain groups of gamers to shelter themselves from them, is counter-intuitive to the efforts to grow the industry across the world. And as gaming spreads to new countries and cultures, video games have a duty to expand and grow in the kinds of content and representation it provides, lest we miss out on that expansion.
It was a speech that touched on racism and sexism in the gaming industry, with Spencer specifically referencing the #MeToo movement and Emily Chang's recent investigative book Brotopia about the toxic masculine culture in Silicon Valley. The opening talk highlighted the conversation around diversity at even the highest levels of the industry.
Elsewhere, we saw the conversation between Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann and filmmaker Dan Trachtenberg, two narratively-minded creators discussing the role of single-player narrative games in an era of games as services. While the conversation never fully delved into the position of single-player games in 2018, there were at least some cool anecdotes about Naughty Dog games like Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us.
In a similar vein about new technologies and market strategies and how they affect the games industry, we also heard from Ubisoft's Lidwine Sauer who spoke briefly about cryptocurrencies and blockchain. While gamers affected by blockchain technology are those dealing with GPU shortages and price hikes, Sauer points to a future where that technology can be incorporated into gaming directly.
All of this is to say that so far, DICE has been full of conversations about what will happen to gaming amidst the backdrop of a rapidly changing technological and social environment. While I haven't heard a lot of answers so far, it shows that while 2018 is still early on, the video game industry has a lot to answer for in the coming months as it comes to grapple with what looks to be a dramatic shift in how the games industry views its own culture, and its place as a medium caught between the intersection of science and art.
Header image credit: DICE, AIAS, Zebrapartners