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David Cage: Game industry has 'Peter Pan Syndrome'
David Cage: Game industry has 'Peter Pan Syndrome'
February 6, 2013 | By Brandon Sheffield

Quantic Dream CEO David Cage says it's time to grow up. “It's time to reassess who we are, and what we are doing,” he said, during a talk at the DICE summit in Las Vegas. He says we have Peter pan Syndrome -- “Someone who is anxious at the idea of growing up and becoming an adult, and who actually refuses to grow up,” by his definition. “And that's quite a bold statement to make about an entire industry!”

He reminds us that the 30 best selling games (though here he just targets retail) are either by Nintendo, or are Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, or Kinect Adventures -- and that's it. 21 out of the 30 come from Nintendo. “Only three genres [make] the charts,” he says. “Kids games, Casual games, and violent action games.”

“When you think about it, you realize we use the same themes, the same worlds, for about 40 years,” he adds. “You're a hero, and you need to kill people in order to go somewhere, free the world, free the princess, or whatever.”

“When you look at Wolfenstein in 1992 versus Call of Duty in 2012, you realize we have made huge advances in graphics,” says Cage. “But if you look at the content, you realized we have not advanced that much.”

The industry is not moving forward in its themes, he says. “Many times when I play a game, I get the feeling I've played it a million times before,” Cage says. “We need to move away from our traditional market, which is kids, teenagers, young adults.”

We need to move toward adults, he poses. “Think about your friends who don't play. Think about your parents. Do they play console games? Most of the time they don't play video games. They barely know they exist.” But you can talk about books, movies, TV, with them, because those mediums are perceived as being for everyone.

With that as a premise, Cage reveals 9 things he thinks we need to change in order for the industry to grow up.

1: Make games for all audiences. “I believe it's time for this industry to create content, interactive experiences, for an adult audience,” he reiterated.

2: Change our paradigms. “We cannot keep doing the same games the same way and expect to expand our market,” Cage cautions. “We need to decide that violence is not the only way.”

“For most people out there, mastering a system is not something exciting, it's boring,” he says. They don't want to compete. It's fine when you're a kid, but not as fun as an adult. “I don't want to feel the strange experience of getting my ass kicked by a 10 year old,” he added, challenging the industry to start making games with no guns.

3: The importance of meaning. “When you think about it, you realize many games have absolutely nothing to say!” says Cage. “There's nothing against that, but that's a toy. Can we create games that have something to say? That have meaning?”

To do this, we need to let authors come in, he says. “Games today, most of the time -- not all, but most -- are written by programmers and graphic artists and the marketing team. We need to have authors really at the heart of the project.”

In addition, we should use all real-world themes. Most games take place in a world we can never enter, but Cage says we should focus more on human relationships. “We need to put games at the center of our society, the center of our life. Games can do that in a very unique way.”

4: Become accessible. “Let's focus on minds of the players, and not how fast they can move their thumbs!” he says. We need to think about the journey versus the challenge. Is a game a series of obstacles, or could it be just a journey? Just a moment that you spend?

5: Bring other talent on board. David Cage in his career has worked with David Bowie, and the actress Ellen Page, which he says brought new perspective to his games. “Working with these people has been an amazing experience,” he says. “They came to the game industry because that was something new to them.”

6: Establish new relationships with Hollywood. Relationships with Hollywood have traditionally been based on what Cage calls “a misunderstanding” for some time, largely through licensing. “I think the time has come for a meaningful constructive, balanced new partnership,” he says. “We can invent, together, a new form of entertainment.” They master linear art, and we master interactivity. We should bring them together.

7: Changing our relationship with censorship. “I see myself as a writer,” he says. “I try to write scripts talking about emotions, dialogues. Sometimes I use violence, and sometimes I use sex. And that's fine. But now I have somebody looking over my shoulder saying 'no, you have to change this. That's not possible.'”

“Why would this be okay in movies? Why would this be okay in novels? And the answer is always the same -- because you are interactive,” he adds. “On the other hand I was quite shocked by some things I saw at the last E3. Some games go over the top trying to be more violent, or have more sex than its competitors. And I think that's also a mistake.”

“Sometimes we go too far, and we behave like stupid teenagers ourselves,” Cage says. “And we should stop doing this, because it's a matter of being responsible not only to our industry, but also to our society.”

8: The role of the press. “I think press has a very important role to play,” Cage says. “[In the] press, we have on the one side, very clever people. They think about the industry, they analyze it, they try to see where it could go in the future. On the other side of the spectrum, you've got people giving scores. Just scores.”

“I don't think this is press,” Cage says. “Where is the analysis? Where's the thinking about this? Can anyone give his opinion and be respected as a critic? Being a critic is a job. It requires skills, it requires thought.” He here referenced the famous Cahiers Du Cinema, a film journal which helped influence the French New Wave of cinema, and changed movies significantly.

9: The importance of gamers. “I often think that buying or not buying a game is almost like a political vote,” Cage postulates. “You decide if you want the industry to go in this direction or not go in this direction. Buy crap, and you'll get more crap. Buy exciting, risky games, and you will get more of them. When you buy games, you vote for where you want the industry to go.”

What Cage wants is digital entertainment. “This new form of entertainment should be accessible to all, should be open to all themes and genres, and should be able to talk about ourselves, human beings, and societies, in a meaningful way. It should be based on the journey, not the challenge.”

If we do this, Cage says, “Finally, we will have a chance to become mass market.”

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Glenn Storm
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David is always interesting to listen to. These are powerful ideas. His GDC talk regarding Heavy Rain's position toward these aims is highly recommended. [insert vault link here]

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Christian Nutt
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So, so tired of this oversimplification.

guillaume Colomb
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Yes, the speech are interesting, but I didn't really connect with Heavy rain. I like Fahrenheit better in a way...
When your character start behaving in a stupid way or you have stupid, unrealistic choices, it just break the link with the player.
If you give interactivity, it has to be thing I want to do. And not give me only choice I don't want to do and that I found stupid...

Simon Ludgate
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"For most people out there, mastering a system is not something exciting, it's boring"

I disagree wholeheartedly. Play _IS_ mastering something without consequences for failure.

Christian Nutt
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Well, the debatable part of the sentence there is "for most people". I still think it's debatable, because of what we know about human nature and the human mind, but I don't exactly have research to back it up -- just a bunch of half-remembered things I've read on the web.

I definitely like playing games that are highly systemic, but I also enjoy playing games that are purely experiential.

I think the point he's making is probably valid but not quite accurate -- or at least, the point I wish he were making instead, maybe. Games don't all have to be about system mastery, and not everybody wants to engage in system mastery, and maybe a great deal of people would enjoy games that aren't about system mastery.

Tom Baird
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Maybe it's the programmer in me, but games are NOTHING but systems.

A game as experiential as Journey is still based around understanding and working with different systems at play, whether it's learning how to maximize your floating, understanding when you slide or how to unlock creatures, learning how to communicate information to someone else, or understanding how the snakes search and attack. When you remove these elements, you remove the very element that makes it a game. Even the most experiential games are still rooted in learning and mastering systems.

When you take out the systems to be mastered, you end up with a movie, which judging from most of his points, particularly point 6 and the quotes in 7, sounds like the industry he would rather be in.

Edit: Granted I only played the demo, but even his own game, Heavy Rain, involved a mastery and understanding of the sometimes-intuitive thumbsticks, as a major example of systems mastery, that drove both the immersion and satisfaction when advancing the story.

Simon Ludgate
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I really like this RSA animation about human behaviour and motivation, which argues in favour of mastery as a motivator:

Ara Shirinian
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I don't think that the issue can be that mastering a system is more/less exciting than viewing an experience.

I think the issue is that mastering a system is inherently less accessible/ more demanding than viewing an experience. There will always be fewer people compelled to perform vs. those compelled to view performance.

Such a relationship shouldn't diminish the value of either medium, and this isn't to say that depth cannot be made as accessible as possible, and meaningfully accessible at that. It is to say that by and large, as an industry thus far we are consistently failing at creating systems that are both deep and accessible, mostly because we have been going for the largest customer base possible while spending resources most efficiently. Which means spending resources on the most salient things that we know we are good at (impressive noninteractive stuff) and strictly eliminating barriers to entry, at the expense of meaningfully developing further things we are not as good at (motivating play and learning through the quality of design and interface).

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@Tom Baird

I spent zero time in Journey trying to figure out the things you mentioned let alone master them. Maximize your floating? Unlock creatures? Never heard of that last one to be honest. And you didn't have to really do anything other than go from area to area and solve a few puzzles to have what I think is one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I've ever had. I finished the game with the shortest scarf, there was no need to increase your floating in order to reach the end of the game.

And what would your opinion of something like The Walking Dead be? There's a bunch of systems there, but nothing to really be mastered or learned other than the basic controls. All the puzzles tend to be based on exploring the world, either via the environment or conversations with NPCs or both. Every once in awhile they have a "mash button" sequence, but that hardly requires any mastery or skill.

Giro Maioriello
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Millions and millions of people didn't want Wii Sports because they wanted to learn to master systems. They wanted it because it was instantly accessible and in a rudimentary way simulated 'systems' they already knew.

Greg Findlay
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@Christian Nutt I think the debatable part is how you define mastery (which is probably the essence of what your saying). If you define it as a sliding scale then simply by participating you are moving toward mastery. If you define it as binary, I have mastered this or I have not, then mastery becomes something very few people would do.

I think Cage is looking at it as binary.

Andy Cahalan
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Ugh. Go make an erotic film, Mr. Cage.

I really would like to be more respectful towards him but he needs to start taking his own advice instead of pushing flawed opinions on the whole industry. I actually tried to play Farenheit recently and stopped during the awful tutorial because the camera controls alone were needlessly convoluted. Also, David was there in his own game for the benefit of his awfully inflated ego. He can bitch about used games all day, but in the end i'm glad I didn't pay him for my experience with that steaming pile. I don't care what the US marketing people decided it should be called, I'm fairly sure now that it wasn't the reason for it's failure.

I'll direct everyone to Clint Hocking's newly-free talk on the GDC Vault. It demonstrates very well why the last thing we need is more Hollywood.

I don't care how well crafted your story is if the game is just a crime drama with a bunch of linear QTE's.

Bob Johnson
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I think what he describes are movies. I mean the more accessible you make games in terms of controls and the more you want it to say something over doing something the more you have a movie or tv show.

In his case maybe he is after the interactive DVD market.

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Marc Miles
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Sounds like you grew up and simply got board of games (at least what the market is selling). It happens to all of us. Theres only so much one can take of a particular genre. When that happens go and play a genre that you would have otherwise not had the time for or thought was lame for whatever reason, you will find new ideas for new games from that experience and all your years of other genres.

Joe Zachery
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Stop reading Make games for all audiences after remembering what he said early.

He reminds us that the 30 best selling games (though here he just targets retail) are either by Nintendo, or are Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, or Kinect Adventures -- and that's it. 21 out of the 30 come from Nintendo. “Only three genres [make] the charts,” he says. “Kids games, Casual games, and violent action games.”

Nintendo is the only company that makes games for everyone. Instead he wants to label their games for kids or casual. I'm sorry I play games to play them. There is a reason games like Space Ace, and Dragon Lair are not still being made. Once you figure out they pattern it stops being fun. All these Quick Time sort of interactive gaming movies. Are just that Space Ace with current generation tech. The difference is Space Ace cost a quarter to play. I'm not paying 20- 60 dollars for that now, and I never will. Stop trying to think you can make games so real and so life like because you can't. I'm never going to care about a character no matter how much facial pattern tech you use. If you really want people care about a character in a realistic way. Then make a game where if you die it's over! If you do that then it's not going to be a game that people are going to play. You can't have it both ways so stop it please!

Nick Quackenbush
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I agree with some points here. Games are VERY immature and are very rarely written properly. So most games either come off as cheesy and overbearing or just plain stupid. Incorporating a proper writing team and making it a core part of your game will allow the story to contribute to the game, instead of just existing within it.

With that said, I think games can both be dumb and fun, and meaningful. The developer just has to decide what kind of game it can develop. If you don't have proper writers, don't try to make a meaningful story, keep it simple and Nintendo-ey. If you want to have a proper story, integrate a proper writing team at the beginning of development.

We have the opportunity to create worlds that can be anything and I think that is why the industry is struggling to find itself. I hate that people try to draw lines as to what they think games should or shouldn't be, they need to be whatever we developers can make of them.

I believe the indie game revolution that is happening is showing developers, even veterans of the industry, that games can go beyond blood and boobs. Many of these indie games are very simple but tell amazing stories with limited production values.

I believe this is all part of the ebb and flow of games however, and over the next few years games will advance in all directions to a level of mainstream maturity that David is trying to describe here.

We are still in the black and white era of games, I can't wait till move onto technicolor!

John Trauger
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not sure I buy this.

Practical constraints:

An immersive game is usually a game that requires time to play. By contrast the price of admission for a movie in terms of time is 3 hours (1 hour to get to/from the theater plus 2 hours for the film itself). Can you boil a dramatic, mature game experience down into that little time?

Games for everybody must be games you can pick up and put down readily. That's how adult lives work. That also pretty much washes out immersion. hence adults and casual games.

These are a few of the constraints a "gown up" game would be taking on. Good luck.

"3: The importance of meaning. “When you think about it, you realize many games have absolutely nothing to say!” says Cage. “There's nothing against that, but that's a toy. Can we create games that have something to say? That have meaning?”"

By all the gods in heaven stay away from politics, please. There are already too many games that try too hard to "mean something".

I'm not even sure I agree that games have no meaning. In all but the most casual of games, there's always a connotative meaning, even if the designer inserted no denotative meaning.

Brice Morrison
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The view of consoles as representative of the entire games industry is very outdated. Developers who think like this are putting an unnecessary box around themselves.

None of the statements he's making are true outside of console. On Facebook, on mobile, on tablet, there are plenty of mass market genres. The top games have no violence or arcade twitch - they are about building farms (Farm 2, Hay Day), building cities (SimCity, CityVille), making families (Sims Social, Sims), running restaurants (Restaurant Story, ChefVille). There are millions of women, older men, and "non gamers" who love playing games now.

The industry has already grown up and moved on. Several of his points have been solved years ago. But too many developers are so obsessed with how things were done the last 30 years that they are missing it. It frustrates me.

Marcelo Viana
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I think people are oversimplifying Cage's point, and reacting in a defensive way to his remarks.

I don't agree with everything he said, but it's hard to argue that most games involve saving the world/princess and killing things to get there. Not all of them, no, but the ones that top sales charts usually follow this formula.

His overall point, in my opinion, is that most of the money spent in this industry goes towards games that follow this formula and we need to get away from it if we want this industry to evolve. His own way of dealing with it is going towards a filmic approach of game making, and that's one possible avenue. There are others, and indie games are voraciously exploring them to great result.

But just reading this comment section it is clear to me that people are afraid of games that try to delve deeper into the human experience. They are afraid of making and playing them. Usually the reaction is something like "go make a film" or "go write a book" and it's this aversion to "adult themes" that Cage is trying to address.

Games are indeed systems, but there is absolutely no reason why they can't be personal, deep, and life-changing. There's no reason to be afraid of the games Cage wants to make.

jin choung
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"Not all of them, no, but the ones that top sales charts usually follow this formula."


"His overall point, in my opinion, is that most of the money spent in this industry goes towards games that follow this formula and we need to get away from it if we want this industry to evolve."


ummmm... so why do you think the industry spends the most money on games that sell the most? :P

we're no better than hollywood and yes virginia, hollywood is freaking juvenile as all heck.

there may be some oversimplification going on but when you boil it down, his message is wrong headed and misguided at its core.

Andy Cahalan
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If you seem my post above, you'll notice I say "I want to be respectful..." The problem is less the points and more the messenger. He's working in the wrong medium and we're all suffering his bitter, outmoded viewpoints. The post above yours demonstrates this well.

I'll listen to David Cage when he designs a CRUCIAL game. I get violently angry during reading any time he makes print, and I honestly don't know why he gets any time from anyone.

Maybe less bitching about people trading in his (dull, self-indulgent) "games" and more making a game that people won't want to trade. There's only a couple of reasons your boxed product will be lining used games racks to begin with, and he's already ruled out the reasons outside of the game being terrible.

James Coote
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I think you're all missing Cage's point, which is that games are failing to live up to their potential, and these are some of the things he feels are holding them back

Also, for sake of argument, all games are either narrative or mechanics driven. Clearly some of the points here are not applicable to one or the other

Andrew Wallace
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1: Wow, brilliant observations, if this was 2006.

2: I really don't buy this "Look at the film industry, it's so mature and all we have are shooters!" The highest grossing films of 2012 were, in order: The Avengers, Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, Ice Age 3, Twilight 5, The Amazing Spiderman, Madagascar 3, The Hunger Games, Men In Black 3.

9 out of 10 are sequels, reboots, or prequels. The one that isn't is the first in a trilogy. All are action, 8 are based on franchises that were originally for children. This looks a lot like this list of complaints you had about the game industry. You're imagining a bigger difference than there is.

Andrew Wallace
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As to the inevitable response "But action films are also able to create deep characters and emotional experiences, whereas games so far have not.": Some games have done that, which you really shouldn't ignore. But you're right, it's a much smaller number than it should or could be. My personal theory is that game designers think they're writers. There's no cosmic mandate that prevents this from being the case, but it's a different skill set. Being a good game designer does not make you a good writer, and bad writers never realize that they are.

Jack Nilssen
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Cool. Another high-profile developer with an opinion on "what's wrong with games".

I love how these kinds of sputterings completely discount the hard, near slave-labor done by countless thousands of individuals over the past 30 years to try and elevate the craft.

Personally I see nothing wrong with games. I play the ones I like and I make the ones I want to make and that's more or less where I draw the lines. I'd never presuppose to go out and tell someone else what kinds of games they should be playing/making. A little something called freedom.


Chris Toepker
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The biggest stumbling block, it seems to me, is that so many insist that there is *a* games industry, and *a* mass market and *a* [fill in the blank].

New media is not all that new. If we reflect on radio, movies, or television we see that there is a fairly regular progression in developing and delivering content. In a word: fragmentation.

As a medium (and yes, games are media IMHO) matures, it naturally delivers content to audiences with differing tastes. Yet, so far, in games we seem to insist on declaring "this" audience (e.g. "core") shrinking or dead, and "that" audience (e.g. mobile, mid-core) exploding. As if there were only one market that we must all rush to serve.

What? You think TV producers sit around worrying that the audience for "Ellen" is not watching "Walking Dead"? Or that movie producers worry that the audience for "Wreck it Ralph" won't go see "Django Unchained"? Or that radio producers worry that the audience for Howard Stern won't tune into NPR?

When we recognize that games need not appeal to all people at all times, we will have matured.

Michael Ball
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this x1000

How many more classic franchises must be sullied before we get over the "we want the CoD/WoW/New Coke audience" goosechase?

Simon Jensen
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well put!.. but I wonder what the video game version of Ellen would be and how could i get the wife to play it.. micro episodic adventure games with a single character?

Kenneth Wesley
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Mr. Toepker, I feel you nailed it. I wanted to say something about the industry being proud of the great works and praising the games that have done what David Cage said and succeeded, but you brought up something more important when it comes to mass markets.

Michael Pianta
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This guys comments are not compelling to me at all. I'm quite tired of him actually. At first, even though I disagreed with him, I still respected him for speaking out and talking about games seriously. But now I find it hard to take him seriously at all. In interviews at least he never seems to support his comments with reasoning. It's always "Games have got to do X". Why? "So people will take them seriously." But lots of people already take them seriously, and I dare say that number is growing all the time.

How about this one: "“Think about your friends who don't play. Think about your parents. Do they play console games? Most of the time they don't play video games. They barely know they exist.” But you can talk about books, movies, TV, with them, because those mediums are perceived as being for everyone."

Okay, on the surface this seems like a fair point, but when you think about it I'm pretty sure it's not. For one thing, sure I can talk to my mom about movies. But I can't talk about David Lynch movies, or Werner Herzog movies or Akira Kurosawa movies or what not. Maybe I can talk about a RomCom or something. Meanwhile movies have been around in more or less their modern form since "Birth of a Nation". Nobody alive today remembers not watching movies. So come back in 50 years and then we'll see if our kids can talk to us about games (I'm pretty sure the answer will be yes).

Here's another one: “When you look at Wolfenstein in 1992 versus Call of Duty in 2012, you realize we have made huge advances in graphics,” says Cage. “But if you look at the content, you realized we have not advanced that much.”

So first of all I question if that's really true (as per his usual style, Cage just asserts this without evidence), but secondly what's his point? Have the contents of books or movies changed radically in the last 20 years? Not generally, you have to look at the avant garde to find anything experimental. And lo and beholde the same is true for games. This comment by itself is not very meaningful.

This part here irks me: "He reminds us that the 30 best selling games (though here he just targets retail) are either by Nintendo, or are Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, or Kinect Adventures -- and that's it. 21 out of the 30 come from Nintendo. “Only three genres [make] the charts,” he says. “Kids games, Casual games, and violent action games.”"

So he's looking at the most popular games by sales and he complains they're mainly "Kids games, Casual games, and violent action games." Well of course they are Mr. Cage! I dare say those words could describe the 30 most popular ANYTHING. Those are extremely broad "genres" after all. But then this whole part is funny because I take it by "kids" games he really means "Nintendo" games. But to my mind Nintendo games are some what like Pixar movies - they are for everyone really. To dismiss Mario or Zelda (probably not Zelda actually, in the top 30 there) as mere "kids games" seems incredible. Nintendo makes many of most carefully balanced and enjoyable game experiences around. Maybe they're so popular because they're actually good.

But here is the part where he really starts to lose me: "“For most people out there, mastering a system is not something exciting, it's boring.""

To me, here he's basically dismissing game play. Games are made up of interactive systems. Mastering a system is all a game consists of. This is like if a guy in the publishing industry got up and said "For most people out there, reading a book is not something exciting, it's boring." I mean this may be true, but what are you going to do about it? David Cage says, "change our paradigm". What does that mean exactly? In this same section he talks about competition, and to me that seems like two topics really. Too much emphasis on competition (another debatable point) is not really the same thing as "mastering a system" although success in such a competition would require said mastery.

I don't know. David Cage is an interesting figure in the industry. Unfortunately though his big ideas are never articulated completely, and are always wrapped up in a rhetoric that belittles existing games.

Michael Joseph
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I think individually, a Digital Entertainment developer who wants to make meaningful DE and who wants to be regarded as someone who only makes meaningful DE, need only look at the indie developers out there who with modest budgets are building a reputation as auteurs and not entertainment widget producers. Alot of great filmmakers started out making the movies they could afford to make.

I think the frustration Cage has is that media production is so far from where it once was artistically (and this really is a tragedy), that it seems too difficult to get back there again. But I think these things can be revived the same way they always are. Like minded folks need to get together, network, make public alliances, assist one another, write blogs... in short, recreate a movement that inspires others and educates the customer as to why they should expect more from media products.

What's likely to fail is not doing any of that and to continue making huge gambles on expensive, novel DE products and hoping the financial rewards find their way to you. The ground is being softened and it needs to be softened some more and there should be more public organization. Perhaps a logo program.

"Not Another Soulless Gen-X Media Product."

marty howe
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David Cage, there will never be video games without guns. ever. literature will have guns and violence until the end of time, movies will have guns and violence until the end of time. Same with games.

I understand you love your genre where the game is more slow and adventure like. But please don't tell us to stop putting guns in our games, that's dumb.

3: The importance of meaning. “When you think about it, you realize many games have absolutely nothing to say!” says Cage. “There's nothing against that, but that's a toy. Can we create games that have something to say? That have meaning?”

Can you list each game you've made, and the meaning behind it? (so everyone understands what you mean)

name of game:

Something like that?

Michael Joseph
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I thought it was clear from the article that he's not expecting everyone to stop making games with guns (Heavy Rain had guns) but that to expand the market we need to put alot more effort into making games for adults that aren't all about guns. The fact is, alot of adults are not using DE software. Maybe there's little we can do about that.

I understand the point you're trying to make about the advisor maybe being better at giving advice than following it, but all of us are like that. That he isn't the poster child for making meaningful or transformative entertainment experiences doesn't counter his position that the games industry needs to aspire to bigger things.

So I think it would be nice to focus on the question of how do you get more folks using digital entertainment software. Within that topic, different people can agree or disagree with the points outlined by Mr Cage. One could even argue "why care?" but I think the premise is that if you're on this forum you are interested in seeing more people engaging with DE software.

marty howe
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Don't tell me why I'm on this forum, or what I might be interested in seeing on this forum.

You're post is a big *yawn* and the only response that matters, is the one above directed to David.

Still waiting for an answer...

Pinar Temiz
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Out of all that reply you picked only this last bit? No wonder why it's so hard to hold a healthy discourse here..

Luis Guimaraes
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Seems like one wakes up, looks back at a career making games, and wish he was a movie director instead...

Well, moves are awesome, just go make them.

Christopher Natsuume
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Not sure what industry he is working in... but the one I am working in has had women gamers, adult gamers, and all kinds of non-teenagers for over a decade. Our average user is a woman in her 60's with grandkids....

I mean: “I believe it's time for this industry to create content, interactive experiences, for an adult audience,” - We've been profitably doing that for the last 8 years. So have a couple dozen other highly profitable game studios. What have YOU been doing?

Let me also add - in his analysis of "Best Selling Games" - he ONLY uses retail numbers? What the hell kind of premise is that? This industry has been about digital and app sales for years - defining "what our industry does" by the couple dozen dusty copies of Call of Duty on the shelf at Best Buy... wow.

And the solution is... further align ourselves with Hollywood? Goodness, why? We've been as creatively viable as them for years - more and more, they are a marketing arm for our products, not the other way around. We certainly make more money - we have for a generation. And if you start looking at iOS, Android, Facebook, and Online... we have a much more "Mass market" audience.

Seriously, you could have published this in 1994, and it already would have been hopelessly uninformed and out of date. I genuinely stopped and looked at the date because I thought maybe the website was publishing some "what we thought back when" kind of article...

Roger Tober
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The closest I get to feeling like a game is almost worth playing is when I am playing an rpg or an adventure game. I like a good story and I don't see why there really aren't very many in games. Most game stories are predictable and second rate. There are too many "go for" tasks to give the game a feeling of non-linearity. The challenges don't feel real or important in the context of the story. They feel tagged on. Many of the choices, like character appearance, feel childish. There are too many immediate rewards, like silly loot, that are useless, or nearly useless in the context of the game.

Paul Marzagalli
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I agree with Cage in the sense that some elements of the industry ought to do those things and push in those directions. Where I disagree with him and others is whenever they say the *whole* industry needs to do "this" or get away from "that". There's room enough for the juvenile and facile. We don't need to be Roy Neary trying to sculpt Devil's Tower out of mashed potatoes while grousing, "This means something!" Sometimes mashed potatoes are (and should be) just mashed potatoes.

Jeffrey Touchstone
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I don't agree that games need to grow up per say. Rather I think there is room enough for both juvenile and more mature expressions of the medium. If you want to see more serious games, then what is stopping you? By all means go make it. You can't wait around for someone else to make it for you.

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jin choung
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goddammit. this is just misguided.

play is BY DEFINITION "JUVENILE". most animals (including humans) do most of our play in early stages of life in order to learn - to explore safely without the threat of irrevocable and deadly consequence. those who engage in play in later stages of life (including humans, apes and dolphins) are described as being child-like and juvenile while engaging in such behavior. that is completely correct.

to say that video games must grow up is like saying children's books need to grow up... or that rock and roll needs to grow up. or even that hollywood movies needs to grow up.

all of these activities are INTRINSICALLY juvenile. (and yes probably even the most "serious" hollywood films have themes that are as simple, positive and "wishfulfilly" as to make dr. seuss groan at its childishness).

we are playing games. there is nothing serious about that. every aspect of doing so speaks to our juvenility... the fact that we devote hours of our lives to something that will produce no result, in sacrifice of attending to our other duties - all of that is by definition juvenile.

and there's NOTHING WRONG with juvenility. it's fucking healthy to a point. but what it is NOT... is "ADULT".

being "adult" means attending to things that have affect. it means putting your nose to the grindstone. it means accepting unpleasant truths. but games must be FUN. how "adult" is fun?

i think the money clouds judgment. because we are now an industry that has the ear and investments of wall street, because we out make hollywood, we have delusions of grandeur. we think because we are funded by people in suits that we are somehow suitworthy.

we are not.

and we shouldn't strive to be.

games are art. they are not "adult". and they need not be. and that's fine.

i think under the veneer of the word "adult" the actual intent of the op is that we should strive to be "respectable".

fuck that.

Derek Poole
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I'm really surprised at the amount of negative comments here.

For those of you that are simply happy with the status quo, I'm not sure what to tell you. It seems boring and unimaginative to never want to explore new possibilities, especially with an industry as wide open as games.

As people who create, we should always be striving to improve and work on our craft. I don't think that Cage is unhappy with the industry. I don't think that he's discounting or discrediting all of the hard work and innovations out there. He just wants to help make it better, and encourages others to do so. We should all be on board with that.

jin choung
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the point is that diversification is distinct from trying to be more 'adult'.

nobody is arguing against growing and evolving. it's the stuffed shirt appeal to seriousness and respect ability that is wrong headed.

Derek Poole
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@jin: I disagree. If he wants to make games that are "more adult," then that's diversifying. Games are still new and primitive. Film sucked in its infancy, and while I think that games benefit from our time and technology in ways that early films could not, I'm excited about where games might be 20, 30, 50 years from now.

And I don't understand why his article has been misconstrued as bashing the industry. The guy just wants to help evolve games in to a stronger form of storytelling. What's wrong with that?

Nick Harris
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Cinema lacked sound, colour and editing. Adding these has not necessarily improved upon it, wire-harnesses can equally articulate 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' as they can tripe such as 'Hook'. Special effects can easily detract from, or derail, the human inter-relationships the story aimed to explore. Adding interactivity makes the medium far more like improvisational theatre: where you are meant to participate in the formation of a coherent narrative with the help of other actors and an assortment of props. Consequently, scriptwriters are unwelcome
in this brave new world as their efforts will just constrain the freedoms of the participants. A simulation need not require fast reflexes, or cycles of risk and reward measured in number of headshots, or coins collected. It could seek to convey a theme through the manipulation of the strategic plans of assorted, potentially "offstage", artificially-intelligent V.I.P.s - NPCs whose power would be indirectly felt through the actions of their disposable henchmen.

Want to explore themes of trust and betrayal in a pastiche of 'Donnie Brasco', or 'Infernal Affairs'? Want to make it so that the role you play does not walk around gun at the ready all of the time, even when talking to a friendly? Want to start with no gun at all and forge your own story of survival against the odds? Play: 'DayZ'.

Want a simulation to give you a reason to care about the consequences of your actions, not get swayed towards the cheap thrills of mindless violence on a passing whim? Then reward players with "Kudos" for staying in character as their prior entanglements with NPCs drag them into procedurally-generated dramatic conflicts that build upon their history of actions, reputation, relationships and web of trust. As converations can't be pre-scripted technology limits the player to Yes / No answers to choices they would likely want resolved. Essentially, it does not matter that they did not ask the question provided that they get the answer. The (Y) and (X) face buttons can be used for this in combination with subtitles (there would be too much dialogue to have to record, although one could attempt something like Spookitalk in Starship Titanic which chained together recorded snippets of differing intonation), with (A) and (B) being used for 'Hey' / 'Bye', meaning that conversations could be started without having to be proximal or facing your respondent as in Zelda adventures as you shout out to them as they passed the centre of your vision and you would no longer have to patiently wait for an NPC's monologue to end if you suddenly decided you had something else to do. Indeed, this conversation system although passive would feel more active by dint of your ability to interrupt and hurry along your respondent, often reading faster than you would have heard them struggle through a long spiel only to say you aren't interested. Just hit (X).

I broadly agree with Mr Cage's notions that we ought to at least try to make adventures that don't rely on death and mayhem, car chases and gun battles, fist fights and explosions, but something with the subtlety of 'Tokyo Story'. I don't however think any of his work has managed to do this. He doesn't seem to understand that linearity ultimately kills interactivity and that the freedom of the player either needs to be constrained by the entanglements that they adopt, or that they do what they do because they want to be rewarded with Kudos for their performance 'as someone else' that they can then use to be awarded more demanding dramatic roles within that simulation, much as actors benefit from receiving Golden Globes.

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It's ironic, because the games David Cage does (and the things he says) are actually harming progress in games as an expressive medium.

1) He says there are no mature games, but that's not true (I even feel stupid having to say that). This is misleading and disrespectful to game designers that actually are making progress in game design (most indie, certanly not AAA).

2) Cage says he "sees himself as a writer", as in "hollywood writer". Ok, but game writers shouldn't be writers in that sense. It's a dynamic, programmable medium. They should think procedurally, not in the scripted "hollywood" way we see in his games.

PS: it's not that games like Heavy Rain shouldn't exist. It's just that Cage says this is "the evolution of games". This is wrong. On the contrary, they are almost non-games. Interactive story Façade, in all it's buggy polygonal glory, does a much better job in exploring this medium for expressive and storytelling purposes (instead of what Cage does, copying Hollywood, "trying to be cinema", both visually and in the mostly linear approach to storytelling). So the tears are more photorealistic in Heavy Rain - well, they are even more in any movie. But games are not movies.

PPS: a useful analogy: imagine Cage's approach applied to the begginings of cinema. Imagine someone saying: "Well, people are just filming trains. How childish. This medium needs to be as mature as theatre, with all the drama and complexity. SO LET'S FILM PLAYS." This is exactly what Cage proposes for games. Gladly, that didnt happen in case of cinema - people kept doing "stupid and imature" experiments for a long time, evolving cinema's unique expressive strategies (camera angles, editing techniques etc). It soon became the mature artistic medium that it is today, allowing all kinds of content, mature or non-mature.

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PPPS: Actually, one could even say "games" like Heavy Rain do help in evolving games (and digital media) as an expressive language, because at least it deals with complex emotional themes (even if just thematically). Ok, could agree to that. But that's not how Cage sees it - he does think/say that this is "the future of gaming". In my opinon, this (negative) idea associated with Heavy Rain makes it harmful to the medium.

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(I'm watching Clint Hocking's talk that someone mentioned here, which elaborates vey well on the ideia in my "PPS" above)