Clint Hocking, creative director over at LucasArts, has railed against developmental working environments, likening the cultural conditions to those of the Vikings in his column over at EDGE.
Specifically, game development studios and their teams are largely staffed in the same way that Viking longships were crewed. Consequently, the culture is overflowing with beer and pent-up aggression, and a very significant portion of our overall cultural output is fart jokes. I think we can do better. - Clint Hocking
He also calls for an increase in the number of female developers, not to specifically target female gamers, but rather to 'ensure that the development culture in game studios becomes more reflective of our culture at large'.
This comes hot on the heels of some whistle-blowing over at Team Bondi regarding oppressive working conditions, draconian rules and deadlines and a simmering cauldron of unrest. Hocking suggests that the games industry has something of an image issue that needs to be addressed, suggesting that before change can occur, the industry has to seem to be a desirable place to work, particularly for women.
But it is a change, Hocking continues, that must really come from the bottom up:
Like the Viking expansion itself, this transformation probably needs to be driven from the bottom up. Like it or not, the culture onboard your ships is the culture you’re exporting. Fart jokes have their place in culture, but when fart jokes become your culture you have a problem.
I’m not suggesting that we stop making violent, fart-joke-infused, aggression-release-valve games for the aspirational Vikings among us. If we ever hope to make high-profile titles that are something besides that, however, we need to behave a little more each day as though we’re seated at the family dinner table, rather than rowing the longship.
He's right in many ways. Culture is rather cyclical and you rather get the cultural industries that you deserve. If gaming is to grow, then it needs to take risks and be aspirational. That said, I haven't seen anything like that come out of LucasArts in a long, long time.