It's Official ... Adventure game players don't exist!

By Rosemary Young and Gordon Aplin (July, 1999)
As we commence Issue 16 of Quandary we are contemplating the sad fact that this may very well be our last issue. Not from any loss of enthusiasm on our part, nor even from the lack of adventure games to review as we know there are still a few in production, but for the simple reason that many of these games may fail to be published or distributed widely thus jeopardising the continuation of the genre.

Already it appears that Discworld Noir and Simon the Sorcerer 3 may not be published in the USA and Galador: Curse of the Prince is not being released in an English version. These publishing decisions may very well be based on sound marketing and research though we must admit this strategy is far too subtle for us to comprehend. What is clear is that some publishers have given up on the US as a market for adventure games. Determined US adventurers may still be able to purchase the games on-line, but most US potential customers will simply be unaware of the existence of these games.

One stated reason for the abandonment of the US market is the perception that computer games are only played by those aged 17 to 28 (and probably only males) so only action/arcade games will sell well enough there to justify the costs of publication and distribution. The adoption of this view ultimately means the end of diversity in the computer game industry and more to the point, as 'action' is most often represented by combat-oriented scenarios, it also means that computer games will overwhelmingly be about fighting. What an indictment on the industry in this day and age.

We are saddened by this trend of limiting distribution of adventure games. We are saddened that many US adventurers will be denied the opportunity to play these games. Adventurers, particularly females and mature players will be forced out of computer game playing to the detriment of the whole industry. The one genre that had the potential to raise interactive entertainment to an art form is being cast aside in favour of more 'twitch' games that largely appeal to only one narrow segment of society. This will encourage computer games to be only ever seen as 'toys' and never gain mainstream respectability. It seems the perception that there is only one market for computer games is rapidly becoming a reality.

We know we are sounding like a broken record on this matter and we dearly wanted to begin this Issue with a positive and happy editorial, but these latest developments are particularly discouraging. Still, we are not giving up without a fight and there are some encouraging moves to try to overturn these decisions. We urge all our readers to support Mr Bill's campaign for Discworld Noir and Simon the Sorcerer 3 to be released in the US. Check out Mr Bill's editorial, "A Sad State of Affairs - Publishers Do Not Believe We Exist!" to have your say and see what you can do to help.

Copyright © Rosemary Young and Gordon Aplin 1999. All rights reserved.