What impact could entertainment content have in 2022: Part two

Part two in our trilogy looking at industry leaders’ hopes for 2022 sees a focus on empathy and authenticity, alongside a desire to tackle misconceptions.

As we prepare for a huge announcement about the OKRE Summit (want to be among the first to hear? Sign up for updates here), it’s a great time to reveal the second part in our series asking key figures from across games, film, TV and audio what impact they would like to see entertainment content have in 2022.

“Great stories are the ultimate empathy machines”

Lizzie Francke, Editor at Large, BFI Film Fund

Tara Mustapha, game designer and producer and founder of Code Coven, the organisation providing marginalised developers with the skills and confidence they need to thrive in the games industry, said: ‘As the world progresses, it’s vital that entertainment content be created by people at all levels who represent the consumer.

‘Games are such a powerful medium for empathy. We haven’t seen any other medium able to deliver such an immersive, unique connection with an individual, it’s poignant that we get this right.

‘It goes beyond just enabling people to escape – we can create experiences that provoke people to understand what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes. However, to do so, content needs to be made by authentic, representative creators to create truthful work.’

Lizzie Francke, Editor at Large, BFI Film Fund, agrees that empathy is a key part of any great content. She said: “As someone who has optimistically believed in the power of good stories to transform our understanding of the world and each other, 2022 is no different and indeed more urgent as we climb out of the last couple of fraught years and navigate the chasms of inequalities. I would love to see a creative culture that continued to try to connect – find the points of similarity for audiences but also celebrate the points of difference that can be learnt from.

‘Great stories are the ultimate empathy machines – they have the power to take us out of ourselves and feel a more collective sense of the world.

‘In an era of what feels like overload of content though, I would love to also see the bridges and beacons that help us navigate our way through and that reflection on stories might inspire action to create a more hopeful world. Less content, more contentment.’

The question even inspired Lizzie to write a haiku in response:

A bridge to connect
over the streams’ flow, finding
content in content

Television presenter and NASA Datanaut LJ Rich is hoping for TV with empathy – alongside optimism. She said: ‘Reality shows with constructive and tender feedback, where we watch people improve and cheer them on. Documentaries where a panel of experts solve problems with the help of the viewers. I want News programmes that encourage critical thinking and discourage ‘othering’. Prominent brands to consider writing off revenue to contribute positive change to the planet. Advertisers could create extra content based around those initiatives as a wholesome way to increase consumer engagement and brand loyalty. I want musicians, artists and other creatives to be paid properly for their incredible efforts.

Mostly, I want to make immersive, musical (and hopefully funny) content with a passionate and diverse team – I want to make TV For Good.’

Phil Riley, CEO of Boom Radio, the first radio station in the UK to specifically target Baby Boomers, and Chair of Judges at the audio industry awards the ARIAS, hopes to see some misconceptions about older people challenged in 2022.

He says: ‘I hope entertainment content would focus on the over 60s still being active participants in society – so often older people are typecast as out of touch, infirm and slightly reactionary – whereas in reality many are still leading busy, fulfilled lives, and are very conscious of the luck they’ve had in life and want to help younger generations enjoy success too.’

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of The Film and Television Charity, also wants to tackle misconceptions – particularly those around mental health.

She says: ‘Entertainment has the unique ability to engage huge audiences in topics of the day; to start conversations and ultimately to shift our social fabric. This is a power and a responsibility and I’d like to see even more normalised and realistic representations of mental health that destigmatise the subject and bust taboos about conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, OCD and PTSD. Let’s see believable and diverse characters who live full lives with these conditions.’

Do you have thoughts you’d like to share? Now’s your chance to tell us: What impact would you like to see entertainment content have in 2022?