The transnational character of gaming is one that opens up a wide range of opportunities for the industry, but comes with a number of pitfalls as well — and, as Mathew McCurley argues at the Escapist, has far-reaching negative consequences, especially in term of content. Trying to navigate the tricky waters of censorship and varied expectations of what is OK (and what's not) in a variety of countries can mean developers play it safe in an attempt to ensure that their game will reach a wider audience:
The videogame industry will never stop pushing boundaries. It can't - gamers have an insatiable demand for more visceral experiences and will continue to flock to games that provide them. The problem, however, is the potentially heavy cost of taking risks on a global scale. The companies that have been most fearless about creating controversial games are the ones with the money to fight those battles, backed by publishers like EA who assume some of the risk. Smaller teams may find ways of breaking the boundaries in other content-neutral ways, like Jonathan Blow's Braid, which approaches storytelling through creative game mechanics. But the uncertainty that shrouds the ratings processes all over the world is a giant red flag for all but the most courageous game companies.
Of course, this ignores many of the good points of a more international scene, and I can't imagine there's a good way to get around this (short of trying to create an isolationist industry, which is unreasonable from several fronts). But it's certainly an interesting problem to ponder.
Crossing Boundaries [The Escapist]