http://www.gamesetwatch.com/head.jpg We know it was a few days ago, but we noticed that we never really highlighted Seth Schiesel's New York Times article on the game biz, which is provocatively titled 'The Video Game Industry Has an Image Problem and Mostly Itself to Blame', and is as close to fiercely opinionated activist talk as you'll ever get from the NYT.

Talking in the context of the Ziff Davis exec summit held last week, Schiesel suggests: "Think about it. If someone asks you what you did this weekend, and you respond, “Ah, I was kind of tired and just hung out at home and watched a bunch of movies,” that’s normal. If you say, “Ah, I was kind of tired and just hung out at home and watched a bunch of sports on TV,” that’s normal. But if you say, “Ah, I was kind of tired and just hung out at home and played a bunch of video games,” that is simply not a normal adult response in most social circles." Is it in Japan, either, though?

He continues: "People in the game industry are fond of blaming the mainstream media for that reality, and it is certainly true that most media outlets treat games as a fringe activity rather than as a dynamic part of the modern entertainment landscape. But in that sense the media is only reflecting broader society’s view of games, at least in this country. As a whole, most game companies do not seem to recognize that rather than whining all the time about how misunderstood it is, the industry itself has the power to change how it is perceived."

Schiesel agrees: "Innovators like Nintendo get it", but I feel pretty underwhelmed by his claims of similar for the comic book industry: "In Japan, by contrast, it is totally normal to see middle-aged businessmen reading graphic novels in public."

Well, I guess, but they're not really 'graphic novels', and I think anyone would be remiss to directly relate this to the suggestion that game companies have in any way majorly misdealt the hand given to them. It was probably a single country-wide success - that of the Famicom/NES - which did most to make games culturally appropriate to a _slightly_ wider demographic in Japan, and casual games and other forces are swiftly bringing games to a higher level in the West. I guess that I broadly agree with Schiesel, but I think he's overplaying _his_ hand in order to make a point.