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Language Is A Virus: A Talk With Pandemic's Tom Abernathy
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Language Is A Virus: A Talk With Pandemic's Tom Abernathy

October 25, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5

One thing I've been wondering about is how important writing will be perceived as. Writing is coming up, in terms of peoples' perception of it right now in games, but also the rival faction that's coming up is user-created content and putting all the tools in the hands of the player. So, the thing I've been wondering is, will story-driven games continue to be equally important? Will the role of the writer shift out, or will it shift in to creating more content that people can piece together in a user-created style?

TA: That could well be. Games are such a broad category of experiences, and I do think that writing, properly viewed, is part of the design process in some ways. I know people who think really it's a subset of design, and that's certainly one way to look at it. The thing that I think speaks to the question you're talking about is what I've pushed for at Pandemic, and what I think we as a group of people and a community should be pushing for, is for game developer professionals to stop thinking of us as people who write words that come out of characters' mouths, and start thinking of us as people who create content.

Can that be content that we put in the users' hands to mash up in any way that they want to? Absolutely. The fact that anybody can now take video with their phone and get on their Mac and use the tools on there to make it into a movie and upload it to YouTube... that has not -- at least thus far -- stopped people from going out to movies, or participating in other media that are more traditional, where the content is delivered to you, and you're sort of a passive recipient of it. It augments peoples' experience of that, I think, to some degree, and those things can and probably will coexist. So I see no reason why writers can't be involved in all of that somehow.

There are different levels of experience that people want to have, and different types of entertainment that they're going to go for.

TA: Right. Honestly, sometimes you feel like sitting back and -- as William Hurt said in The Big Chill -- letting "art wash over you." And sometimes you want to be in there and making games happen and doing something creative, and there's no reason why you can't have both of those experiences. I think that the kind of content generators that people with writer minds are, are useful in both of those contexts, it seems to me.

Yeah. Certainly people sometimes want that escapism, or something different from the world that they're in.

TA: Honestly, I don't want to change Casablanca. No offense, but I don't want to get in there and start messing with what they did, because I love what they did. It's perfect for me.

That's where you get remakes.

TA: But here's the thing: in a way, Saboteur is our Casablanca. That's one of the movies that we used as reference in a lot of ways for Saboteur. We wanted a lot of the elements of that, and now we are taking it and mashing it up into something different in a different medium.

Well, a re-envisioning is different from a remake.

TA: That's right.

If you were playing through Casablanca note-for-note but you did different actors and you gave everybody cell phones and stuff it would just be...

TA: Exactly. Well, they tried that. Did you ever see Barb Wire?

I did not see Barb Wire, no.

TA: That's what it was. I'm sitting there watching it, and it's about 20 to 25 minutes in, and I suddenly realize there's a club, she's there, there's a guy she used to be with, she owns the club, she's apolitical, there's a guy she's involved with who's on the run who's a rabble-rouser, and I suddenly realize, my God, it really is Casablanca. That's what they did. It blew my mind. And they totally wrecked it, but you know.

That's okay. At least they called it Barb Wire.

TA: That's right.

At least you knew what you were getting into because Pamela Anderson was in it.

TA: Yes indeed. I think we all got what we needed out of that.

Nobody was confused about what they were watching.

TA: Not at all. That may be the first time Barb Wire was ever referenced in an interview on Gamasutra.

I think it could be! Yeah, they should've just made that into a game instead.

TA: Yeah. It would've been a good game, actually.

Possibly. Well, it would've been at least a sensationalist game and good for some people on some level.

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5

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