Earlier this year, BusinessWeek launched BusinessWeek Arcade, which they describe as "a collection of some of the Web's best free, independently produced games." The titles featured have nothing in particular to do with business, and include Crayon Physics, Gravitation, flOw, and Kriegspiel. I particularly like how Gravitation's genre is listed as "puzzle" (the game is a self-described "art game" about the creative process).
The best part of this incongruous effort is the comments that call out its incongruity. One reader queries, "is this a desperate attempt to attract an audience? what does this have to do with covering business?" Another adds, "Why is BusinessWeek stooping to this sort of thing? A couple of months ago they had a blog about the best airport pickup sites and now this. Grow up and stick to the basics! If this is what I can expect from this website in the future then I'll have to reconsider my subscription." What's interesting about these comments is that they don't have anything particularly negative to say about games as a medium for entertainment, business, or journalism; they simply question the wisdom and relevance of including seemingly random, if quite lovely, independent games on a business magazine website.
Helen Waters, editor of the "Innovation" section of BW online that houses the where the arcade, responds:
You argue that these games have nothing to do with business. I'd counter that the growing world of free, creative, independent games is having a radical -- and growing -- impact on the booming games industry at large. This space is a hotbed of creativity and ingenuity, and we wanted to provide access so that you could take a look and judge for yourselves.
Given that we're writing about developments that are taking place within the online space -- and BusinessWeek.com is also online -- it seemed logical to provide this opportunity to interact with some of the games about which we were writing. I think it's a beautiful addition to a thoughtful package of serious articles. So thanks for your comments but, respectfully, I disagree.
Apart from offering a rare, legitimate, and earnest back and forth discussion in the comments of an online story, there is something behind Waters's response. BusinessWeek's Innovation section is devoted to, well, novelty: new approaches, products, business practices, and so forth. The magazine has been running articles about games off and on for some time, including a special section devoted to game news. The publication concluded, perhaps rightly, that they might need to lead many of their readers directly to concrete examples for clarity.
But the "BusinessWeek Arcade" title, the special page devoted to it, and the design and layout of that page suggest something more than just a "see also" addendum to a business article. Exactly what that "more" constitutes is an open question; BusinessWeek hasn't updated the section since launching it in March, making the Arcade seem like a one-off, dead in the water project. Perhaps it will remain a curiosity, or perhaps it signals an openness to something more. In any case, the curation of a set of titles on that page might represent a break from the thoughtless title dumping of media sites and portals.