Do you think story can be important in those open world games? Often after five minutes people just start doing whatever they want, and ignore the story.
Suda: When there's a high degree of freedom, people will eventually get tired of being free. You lose the sense of having a goal. It's a given that there's a story, a purpose in life. In the same way, without a storyline, the player gradually loses his or her meaning of existence in that created space. I think this is somewhat close to reality.
I guess the key is to make a story that people actually really feel like they need to unravel.
Suda: Yeah, I agree. It's like having a purpose in living. Also today there are MMORPGs, and the gameplay has everyone playing on a network. Players probably play on that network every day because they seek new stories daily through interaction and meeting different people. That's probably the reason why gamers gather on MMOs.
It seems that especially in these open world games, the concept of life is not very highly valued. You can kill anything, and you can die and come back to life right away. What do you think about that?
Suda: I can't say exactly, but I do want to derive an answer. An answer that's mine, GH's, answer, which is most likely different from GTA's. But, if you talk about and define GTA's style, it's a style created by the players themselves, not the game designers. It's because players don't want to feel stress in games that there's such a thing as revival right after death.
Even if we game designers create a system where death marks the end, players probably won't accept it. There needs to be improvement in that respect and in terms of understanding how gamers think about games, if there's no change, game designers will be handling life very rashly.
I know you've expressed some concerns about certain types of violence in games that have no consequence, because of how easy it is to discard life. You mentioned you thought it could possibly influence some people.
Suda: There is a problem isn't there. It's troubling. Troubling, troubling, troubling… After all, more than anything, because games are a sensory form of media, if you expand the possibilities, of course it will be more influential than any other medium.
Even from the expresser's standpoint - like ours - it's an issue that cannot be avoided. Like how the film industry has historically battled society (regarding ratings and censorship), from this point on, I think the game industry will also be in a constant battle with society. If you're wondering why, it's because there will absolutely be no other media more influential than games, the game industry will most likely always be in the forefront of this battle. Wow, I said something really intense. (laughs)
I spoke with Warren Spector about this sort of thing, and he was very interested in cause and effect. So if you kill somebody, some people might be happy, but other people might be mad within the game world, and he always has a non-violent path through the game, pretty much every time. I interviewed him recently and he was saying that there should always be a consequence for your actions, it's very important to show that and that is a way to make sure that people are not wrongly influence.
Suda: Yeah. I think it's very important. By introducing emotions, I think such actions much have implications. Games without storylines are... very arrogant games. It's like an orchestra without a conductor, or in a band's case it would be like not having a front man. I don't think this absence can be a positive influence on people.
It seems very difficult to create a scenario that has a lot of cause and effect within a story. So if you save this person something happens, but if you kill this person something else happens. Is that something that you think that is possible to do in a meaningful way for players?
Suda: Hmm… I think it isn't all that necessary to have that many endings. Similar to how there's only one outcome in life, there has to be value in having players follow a path to a single ending. Is it variation in games? I don't want to adjust or make life's ultimate outcome something that can be changed just to have variety.
The reason I say this is because everyone wants to live life to its best, so of the many variations, players might reset a game if the outcome is imperfect, or they might even quit the game halfway. Everyone will only seek the "perfect" ending, and that won't be good.