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 Heavy Rain 's de Fondaumiere: 'Video Games Can Be Meaningful'
Heavy Rain's de Fondaumiere: 'Video Games Can Be Meaningful'
November 30, 2009 | By Staff

November 30, 2009 | By Staff
More: Console/PC

French game developer Quantic Dream has never made secret its ambitions to bring true narrative meaning to video games. 2005's intriguing Indigo Prophecy (a.k.a. Fahrenheit) expressed the direction that the studio wanted to take, and with the upcoming PlayStation 3 exclusive Heavy Rain, the studio hopes to take its philosophy on narrative and video games even further.

Guillaume de Fondaumiere, co-CEO of the studio, told Gamasutra what he hoped Quantic Dream would accomplish with Heavy Rain. "I think that the most important goal for us is to show that video games can be more than just shooting, driving -- that games can be meaningful," he said.

"We really think games can be more than that; they can be a true form of cultural expression, like movies or books. So I think we, as a developer, feel that what we did is successful if people, even just slightly, change their mind about video games and think, 'Yeah. Actually, a game can be as meaningful as a movie.'"

Comparing a video game to a movie can be troublesome territory. The unique advantage of interactive entertainment is that it's not passive as movies are. Players are actively participating in video games. de Foundaumiere is confident that Heavy Rain will take advantage of the interactive aspects of gaming, and even embraces the tarnished term "interactive movie."

"The best short-form definition we found [for Heavy Rain] was 'interactive movie,' which is a double-edged sword quite simply because it reminds people of those games at the early '90s when you were basically in a movie and you had the choice between going to the left or opening the door to the right -- which of course Heavy Rain is absolutely not."

"But to a certain degree, it is an interactive experience in which your actions have consequences on the story, and, because it's so cinematic, I guess calling it an 'interactive movie' is probably the proper definition."

For more from de Fondaumiere and his views on creating a cinematic game with meaningful, interactive narrative, read the full Gamasutra feature, available now.

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Brian Shurtleff
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Film didn't start off as being terribly meaningful either, Andre... look into the kind of films that made up the very first film experiments, or the nickelodions that followed. The latter of those was pretty much the film equivalent of an arcade game.

Aaron T
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Derek: I would suggest that the social aspect of gaming is not losing ground, but gaining momentum every day. Sure, the arcade is is no longer the hub of gaming, but I'm far more interactive and social with my online buddies than ever before.

Yannick Boucher
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@Andre = "meaningful" = "Hollywood" ? Did I miss something here ?!

Christopher Wragg
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"But why make a "meaningful" (whatever that means) game by stripping all that makes it a game?"

I question how you come to that conclusion, rather perhaps they are making the game meaningful by making use of what it is to be a game in a specific fashion.



"Games can be meaningful? I'm quite sorry Mr. de Fondaumiere, but video games aren't meant to be meaningful but rather suppose to be nothing but entertainment built on fun."

eh? Games, rather, are a combination of whatever their creator intends them to be and how the public recievess them. Also "entertainment" and "fun" are two deep concepts not to be brandished around willy nilly. To say that a meaningful experience cannot be found to be fun, and thus be entertaining is utter foolishness.

Last but not least


"Here we go again trying to conform the gaming industry into the movie industry."

Really.... I'd say no. Games and movies share a LOT of common ground. To ignore that is to ignore a large portion of how video gaming came to exist in the first place, along these same lines to ignore the fact that books and movies are considered culturally relevant while games "could be" is to ignore valuable discussion within our industry.

Either way you seem to agree with the man you're railing against; "Any videogame company that wants the gaming industry to grow will utilize the unique qualities of videogames and provide unique forms of interactive entertainment not found in movies." .....which is exactly what he's saying they're doing.

Kouga Saejima
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@ Andre Thomas

"Games can be meaningful? I'm quite sorry Mr. de Fondaumiere, but video games aren't meant to be meaningful but rather suppose to be nothing but entertainment built on fun."

You are absolutely right sir. It's the same with movies, isn't it? I mean "Schindler's List" was such an entertaining and fun movie. Meaningfulness? Pah... overated!

Tyler Peters
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Stephen Keating presents some good examples of games being meaningful, and I'd like to add my favorite of these: ICO. The gameplay integrated beautifully into the story. A story which was so visually compelling between two likable characters you didn't even need to understand what was being said.

It's games like this, and in another section of the spectrum- games like Flower, that define at least one aspect of the future of entertainment media. These properties seamlessly integrate story and gameplay together to arrive at something which is more than the sum of the parts. And therein they become not only meaningful, but much more.

Regarding Heavy Rain.... I really hope these guys pull this off, but the gameplay I've seen out there does not look terribly engaging to me... It seems like a series of quick time events thrown together.

If they prove me wrong, I will be happy to oblige by purchasing the game :)