Tomas Sala (The Falconeer): ‘Games have a huge impact on our culture’

In general, what are the most important technological and creative developments in the gaming world?

“For me, there is only one thought that everyone should take to heart: Nothing is more disastrous for a society than a lack of culture. We live in a world where citizens are becoming more empowered and more receptive to the demagogue and the easy answer. With every riot, threat and popular uprising, I taste the lack of culture. And especially culture that tries to convey the complex issues of our time, the pain and the problems. And let one thing always be clear: the culture of the modern Dutch is overwhelmingly experienced online: millions of people in the Netherlands and hundreds of millions of people worldwide play games.”

And you don’t see that realization reflected in how people talk about it?

“While social media gets a lot of attention, games as an influence on our culture are often dismissed as ‘games’. But these games are powerful learning machines that do nothing for the players other than address the learning centers (how else do you beat the final boss?). It is inevitable that much of our culture derives from gaming culture. Be it the economic view of crypto or conflict resolution through violence and unfortunately very dark hero glorification. The effort being made to make the digital cultural image of games more diverse, more mature and possibly even more Dutch has so far been almost zero or trapped in norms and processes that apply to established cultural expressions.”

What are the risks of this lack of attention to the influence of games on the wider culture?

“To America alt-rightgroups take to the streets and fight, dressed in clan insignia and images taken directly from the internet and gaming culture. Steve Bannon called the disillusioned white, young, male players the deciding factor in Trump’s victory, not the older conservatives. Nor do we have to look far to see in cryptohype the desperation of entire groups of young people who feel excluded from a future fueled by financial acumen and brandishing marketing spread and normalized directly through gaming.

Let’s find an answer and see that gaming culture at least has a proportional influence on large sections of the population and that, as with other media, it is not desirable for foreign ‘right-wing’ commerce to determine the dynamic. I think it is slowly becoming necessary to see that the blind spot in relation to games is starting to become critical.

Gaming culture is also culture, but unique in its relationship with the user. Perhaps this has made it more difficult to use as a remedy. But it is not a remedy either; all that is required is a healthy (local) gaming culture that is actually seen and appreciated in this economically unviable local region for our industry. We need a bigger playground! And the government can help with that.”

What opportunities are there for companies or brands to make an impact through games (whether ‘immersive’) as a medium?

“I myself have tried to combine marketing/brands and games for seventeen years, sometimes with great success for the biggest brands in the Netherlands (AH, KLM et cetera). But I think the biggest obstacle for companies to get started with games is the difference in their relationship with consumers. Play for 5 minutes or relaxed use provides virtually no added value for a brand and is also unable to stimulate behavior, in contrast to other common (digital) channels.

These are the companies that enter into long-term (digital) relationships with their users, who make long-term gaming investments and can implement products for very specific customer journeys to make possible. AH and KLM are obviously good examples of this. These are two brands that many consumers actually use the apps of regularly, and then there is a basis for entering into other digital relationships with the user, for example as a player.”

Leave a Comment