From a design or story perspective, would you ever be interested in exploring more of a nonlinear, open-world kind of game?
CB: All that remains to be seen. I mean, I'm not going to lie -- Gears is a pretty linear game. We do break it up a bit with path choices, and there are some areas in Gears 2 that are what we call "optional splits" where the players can kind of circle around.
They're more porous areas, something we're very cautious of, but for the kind of narrative we have in Gears, ultimately it is a very linear narrative. It's not one where you're choosing a light side or a dark side.
But who knows what will happen down the line, you know? I think it's certainly a compelling thing to consider, but it all remains to be seen how it shakes out.
Yeah. Do you have any grand soapboxing ideas about which direction is more appropriate for games?
CB: There are multiple directions right now. It's really fascinating to see your Spores, and your LittleBigPlanets, that are kind of empowering the user to create all sorts of cool stuff. I think that's really compelling.
And you have your GTAs that have the really cool narrative, but are also more open-world. Then you have MMOs, where it's users interacting with each other and crafting their own parties and going on raids and things like that. Gaming is splintering into so many different directions. As of right now, I'm a fan of sci-fi space operas.
And regardless of all those thriving design routes, when you see a game on TV, they still dub in the Pac-Man sounds.
CB: Yeah, that drives me crazy. That's a huge pet-peeve of mine. They see the little kid playing, and it's like (imitates Pac-Man sounds), and you're like, really? Really? That hasn't been the case forever. The average age of the gamer has consistently remained consistent with my age -- it's 33 right now, which is how old I am. Next year, I'll be 34, and they'll say the average age of a gamer is 34.
And you know what? These guys are having kids and there's a whole new generation of gamers that just grew up playing, and it's no longer this weird thing that dirty people do in the basement. It's just something everybody does. Nobody thinks anything of it. It's no longer weird.
And as an industry, we're actually getting to the point now where we have people you could call senior statesmen, the first generation of real veterans who have spent a whole generation in the field.
CB: Yeah, right. That's good. And sooner or later, we're going to have a president in office that grew up playing video games. And suddenly, video games aren't going to seem so scary. Which, I think, will be good politically for us, but I'm kind of going to miss that little rock and roll edge that we have right now.
CB: The parents are like, "Oh my God, the violent video games are responsible for everything evil!" And you're like, "Come on."
You're relatively young despite having been in this industry for a while -- in the late '90s you were much more outspoken or brash, but you've managed to smoothly transition into your current position.
CB: Yeah, you've got to pick your battles now.
All that comes out of working with very talented people and managing to produce a great game. You know, the second I produce a game that's crappy, no one's going to keep listening. As sad as it is, you're only as good as your last game, in many ways.
In Hollywood, at least, you get movie jail for like a year, and you're out, and you get to try and make another good movie. In games, you screw up once, and no one ever wants to hear from you again. It's pretty sad.
Do you think that's related to issues with developer recognition in a broad sense?
CB: I don't think the industry values visionaries as much as it could. I really don't. And I think you look at a guy like Ken Levine or [Peter] Molyneux or Chris Taylor or [Hideo] Kojima, I mean, we all need to celebrate these people.
And yes, it absolutely is very much a team effort, and I'm nothing without the 100-plus people who worked on Gears, but if I can go out there and evangelize the game and help sell the vision of it, that's a very useful thing, and we're all able to put gas in our gas tanks as a result of it, right?