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2K Marin's Finley: 'Deep Experience' Can Trump Subject Matter Concerns

2K Marin's Finley: 'Deep Experience' Can Trump Subject Matter Concerns Exclusive

June 18, 2009 | By Christian Nutt




It's a worthy goal to make games that can appeal to a wide audience -- and yet it's also desirable to make them creatively complex. Sometimes, the two objectives can be at odds.

As executive producer of BioShock 2 at 2K Marin, Alyssa Finley has developed an interesting perspective on the tension between creativity and accessibility. She says that if you "make a deep experience" and "invite the right people there" it can overcome complicated subject matter.

Finley's comments are part of a wider interview to be published on Gamasutra in the near future.

We also recently published a separate interview with both Finley and Zak McClendon about the Bay Area studio, which is developing the BioShock sequel to debut this holiday season.

Finley's newest comments focus particularly on subject matter and opportunity, and in this excerpt, she discusses how games like Portal exemplify the victory of gameplay and invention over conventional ideas of what might be popular:

I do wonder that the problem, very often, is that [video games] get watered down because people become worried that it's not appealing to a broad audience, or whatever.

Well, I think "Art Deco Underwater Failed Objectivist Utopia" is pretty unappealing to a wide audience, and at the end of the day you can get caught up in labels, or you can try to make a deep experience and hope that if you invite the right people there, they will come.

And I think that's absolutely our approach here, is that we're trying to invite people into the BioShock world. Look, I don't know. In BioShock 2 you play a Big Daddy; is that a core fantasy that people have? I think so. I hope so.

I mean, I think our goal is to invite them to say, "If you've seen a Big Daddy, do you want to be a Big Daddy? If you do, we're going to offer you a lot!"

But at the same time, when the first game started, you were not part of the 2K organization. Do you think that the same opportunity to make a game that was so idiosyncratic could have happened within an organization, without a prior success?

2K's been pretty terrific. They've been pretty supportive, and I have seen them support other projects, that maybe didn't seem like they were totally on the beaten track.

So I'm pretty impressed with what they are willing to do with their organization, and, you know, the crazy ideas that they're willing to support. I think it's possible. Is it easy? No.

It's funny; when you think about some of the best games, the best-loved games. Look at the new Ueda game [The Last Guardian] that got finally, after Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, got unveiled at Sony's press conference, and people are calling it the crown jewel of the conference -- where, when Ico came out, it was like the little event that just touched people deeply.

Or, look at Portal. First of all, I think Portal is bordering on perfect. But again, it's something that I think is a little left of even what Valve is generally doing. And Valve is already a little left, in being more creatively free, than a lot of other people. So it's like: how do you get those experiences to happen? How do we foster that kind of stuff?


The only answer I have is that you try to find people who have a passion, and support them. And if you can find an organization to do that --- or, you know, if you find if there's a way to do it as a student project.

I think Portal is the ultimate success story in that regard, right? You find a way to make something small that demonstrates your idea, and if you can get excitement behind it, the world, apparently, is possible.


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