You make games that speak to a wider audience than just hardcore gamers, but these games that you're talking about are even further from the kind of games you make. If you make a game for Mobage or GREE, you're not going to be able to make something like Lumines, let alone Child of Eden. You can't make something that demands attention from the player.
TM: What do you mean?
Because they can't sit down -- they can't get into it. Lumines requires an investment.
JM: Yeah. Time.
TM: Concentration. Yeah. Yeah, you're right. I've head that some young people in Japan can't keep up with a two hour movie. [laughs]
JM: That's sad. That's disturbing. They can't sit still for a two hour movie.
TM: Yeah. The same thing in the United States?
I don't know about young people, but I do know that if I'm watching a Blu-ray at home, without thinking about it, I'll grab my iPhone after half an hour, and I'll pick it up. And then I go, "I'm an asshole," and I put it down. And then about half an hour later, without thinking again, I grab my iPhone.
JM: We're so distracted, and we're so hungry for constant information input. We want to see what's happening on Twitter, or whatever.
People can't put that kind of concentration into a web browser-based game, it's true. I wouldn't say it's completely passive, because you are actively clicking on the button, but there's very little there worth clicking on, so it's practically a passive thing.
Even with something like Lumines, we put so much work into the audiovisual presentation, and there's a reason for it -- because we want people to look at it. We want people to listen to it. So therefore, I guess, just by default, we are expecting a certain level of attention when you play that game. And of course, if you're not playing attention while you're playing Lumines, you're going to Game Over yourself real soon. So that's probably part of it.
We attempt to make high quality products. You can't passively play Child of Eden, especially on Kinect. You've got to be in it to win it or else you're going to be looking at the retry screen pretty soon. So yeah, different games for different types of people. That bored secretary working in a dentist's office staring at Angry Birds, or FarmVille, or whatever, that's totally designed for that need. So it's a case-by-case basis, but as Miz was saying, it is chaos.
Lumines: Electronic Symphony
Do you think that something good is going to come out of the chaos. or do you think that something bad is coming out of the chaos -- or neither good nor bad, just a new reality?
TM: I suppose no good, no bad. This is reality, yeah. We need to face that reality, and we have to think about what is the next reality. And we need to design, we need to make, and we need to pull the people to the new future vision.
JM: We're forced to react to it because, a lot of the traditional console game development dollars are being rerouted en masse to social gaming, because it's a gold rush right now, so everybody wants to be in that space. Some people are really innovative about it. Some people are horribly slavish to the conventions that have been established by Zynga, GREE, and Mobage. All those Evony clones out there. So the challenge is to be successful in that space, but to try and innovate at the same time.
TM: And also, we can see everything moving to the cloud. It's kind of the world of Google. Everything in the network. And this is a very logical state, and it's not so physical yet, but our brains, ourselves, all the time, we need the balance of the physical and mental states.
I think that in the future, we need to bring a synesthesia feeling into it. If we are using the tablet, and if you touch something, there's a much more synesthesia feeling you can get. I think there's a balance. So maybe many, many things we can control by gestures, the camera watching you. But we need that kind of a physical something. How? This is our challenge.
JM: Miz and I were talking a lot about this recently. When we say "synesthesia", it's not just in that trippy, conceptual manner. For us, synesthesia is giving people pleasurable feedback. We're not doing it through force feedback -- this thing [indicates the PlayStation Vita] doesn't have force feedback. So how do we reward people, and their senses? We do it with visuals; we do it with sound.
This concept stands in the real world as well -- like if we were to take our philosophies, and try and design a refrigerator. What if there was this refrigerator handle, every time you touched the handle it glows warmly? What if there's like a certain sound if you touch the handle to open it? What if you hold the handle up at the top, maybe the sound's a little bit different? What about when you open the refrigerator door, what if there's a synthetic sound that sounds something like a sigh, so it's like a welcoming sound, when you open the refrigerator? What if when you close the refrigerator door, where there is that seal, what if there's a warm neon orange glow, that's subtle, or it changes depending on the time of day? We were talking about that.
So these things are all just ways to make people enjoy what they do, what they interact with. If things that you take for granted every day -- like a light switch, when you go into the room and you flip on the light switch, what if when you touch the light panel, it glows gently in response to your touch? There's a feedback there. So when we talk about synesthesia, we're thinking about those kinds of things.
That makes me think of Toshio Iwai.
TM: Oh, yeah.
Doesn't it make you think about his stuff?
TM: Yeah, he's really good. My friend.
Are you really good friends with him?
I'm not surprised to hear that.
TM: Yeah. We've been for over 20 years. Yeah, he's a really good friend. He's a true artist. A media artist. I have kind of a similar concept -- but my stage is the interactive game. But we need that kind of elements to go into the network. And as James mentioned -- it's like how he mentioned about the refrigerator. [laughs]
In life, we need that kind of thing more and more. I believe, that kind of concept, we can expand to life -- all life. I think the game, itself, may be expanding. Some people mentioned about game education. This is not the final concept, but games are getting changed, and blending through the whole life as water, air, kind of things. It's a very natural thing, in the future.
That makes me think about Area 5 in Rez. Evolution. You're talking about games expanding into the network, and our perceptions expanding into the network, and of course that immediately makes me think of the story of Rez, and the story of Child of Eden.
TM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
It's the same concept.
Do you see those stories as actually maybe being more true to the future you envision than maybe people thought when they played the games?
TM: I don't know. [laughs] This is one of my...
TM: My story. All of them, I hope. We want to go the positive way, not the negative way.