Perhaps the thing that limits games most is misunderstanding about what they can be.
Some will tell you games are a lower form of culture, and nothing much beyond a way to waste time. Others continue to dwell on violence and addiction, as if games can only have a negative effect.
And then there are those quick to point out that games can do much more than offer entirely valuable escapism. They can bring together families, provoke debate or critical thinking, improve life skills, engage young learners in the classroom, inspire creativity, advance everyday technology even serve medical or training purposes.
The reality is that games can be a power for good in myriad ways. But that gives them the capacity to offer a wild diversity of experiences, from family-friendly fun to profoundly mature games that explore very adult themes. Games as a medium have something to offer everybody; but that does not mean every game is suitable for every player.
I love the potential of games as a force for good, a way to have fun, and a means to explore unique worlds in a way no other medium can deliver. Equally, I adore sharing what games can be with other people. But I'm not unrealistic about the negative potential of content inappropriate for a particular audience. That's the reason I'm thrilled to be stepping up as the new Editor of AskAboutGames. I've been a full time games journalist for nearly 11 years, so sharing information about games – and knowing perhaps a little too much about them – is how I make a living. And writing for national newspapers like The Observer and The Observer, gaming-specific publications like Edge, Eurogamer and Gamespot, and titles for the game industry such as GamesIndustry.biz and Develop, I've been lucky enough to have to share games with a very diverse audience. Some of that audience knows enough to make games; others understand almost nothing about them. I'm equally delighted informing both, and over that decade-plus I've hopefully picked up a thing or two about how to do that.
Getting the most out of games means finding the right games for you and your family. That can be an intimidating when there are so many very different releases to choose between, such a high number of new games, and perhaps a little upward pressure from youngsters to encourage their parents to provide a title that may – or may not – be suitable for them.
My experience should be a help to you there. I'm here to provide information and answer questions about games. Yet all I know really is that I don't know everything. That's why I'm building a community of brilliant contributors, from families and parents to game makers and other experts. This opportunity isn't about me telling you what not to play. I don't see initiatives like AskAboutGames and PEGI's age ratings for games as being means to limit access to games.
Playing the right games for you matters because it is impossible to play even every great game. Thrillingly, there's just too many. I admit I get through well over 100 every year – thanks in part to my beloved arcade releases being fairly short– and I'm barely scratching the surface.
So if we can't play all the games, but want to enjoy the benefits the medium offers, we should try and stick to titles we'll get the most from. Play the best games for you and your family, and you can enjoy all the benefits of a medium that can bring so much; happiness, escapism, knowledge, empathy and a more informed perspective of the world around you.
Those are benefits AskAboutGames has helped hundreds of families embrace already, and I'm so elated to get started continuing that tradition. Learning about games can feel intimidating if you're not familiar with what they really are, of course. But really it's simple at a fundamental level. Video games let players interact with light and/or sound. That's it. It's hard to think of a video game that doesn't fall into that category.
And I'm just here to share what's possible within that definition of games, and build a conversation around how you can make sure your family get the most out of them. We'll also look beyond games themselves, to game events your family can get involved with, potential careers the game industry offers, and the interesting things that are happening with games beyond 'just' entertainment. I'll also be sure to bring other voices on board to offer their experience or expertise, and I'm very open-minded to learning plenty myself.
Understanding games is an ongoing process for all of us. If AskAboutGames can grow as a place for everybody to keep on learning together – readers, contributors and even game makers – we'll all of achieved something to be proud of.
I look forward to taking that journey with you. So let's get started.