Devolver Digital boss talks game addiction responsibility

In the wake of the World Health Organisation’s decision to make Gaming Disorder an official medical condition, game developers and publishers are being increasingly pressed to make public comments about where they stand on the issue. While loot boxes are being compared to Kinder eggs by EA, others defend burgeoning microtransaction businesses that they now feel are under threat.

During the Reboot Developer Red conference, Devolver Digital’s co-founder has weighed on on the topic, and he seems to think there’s a pretty essential conversation to be had.

“We’re feeding the country, we’re feeding the world, and we choose what we put into our creations—which are often the result of what we’ve been fed,” he said (via GIBiz). “We are the pharmaceutical companies.”

Wilson was on typically candid form at Reboot, considering the bigger picture.

“We’re where people are turning in their most vulnerable moments; when they’re feeling their lowest, or they’re feeling like a piece of shit, or life isn’t working out as it should, because we live in this winners and losers society that is based on all kinds of things that are almost impossible to achieve for young people now.”

He went on to get a bit more specific about where he thought lines in the sand could be drawn, making some analogies that moved him to later clarify they were his own personal opinions and not that of the company over on Twitter:

“Whether you think these are drugs—and by the way, I’m not against drugs at all—but if we’re going to be drug dealers, let’s offer people psychedelics,” he said. “Let’s offer people something that’s going to help them expand and grow. Let’s not offer them crack-cocaine. Let’s not offer them meth. Let’s not literally mine for addicts.”

Wilson also mulled the industry’s tipping point when it comes to making morally decent decisions about addictive components before laws start to force hands.

“Are we, collectively, gonna get our shit together and be intentional about what we’re feeding our friends, ourselves, the general public, young people at their most vulnerable state? Then who’s going to do that? Are we gonna leave it to the casino bosses? Are we gonna leave it to the people talking about user acquisition and monetisation? Are we gonna try and compete in that game?”

Devolver has had an excellent year in the digital marketplace, releasing the well received likes of Katana Zero, Observation, My Friend Pedro and Witcheye for mobile.

Wireframe #25 is out now

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