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Bing Gordon: On Being A Contrarian
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Bing Gordon: On Being A Contrarian

June 1, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

What kind of responsibility do you think game developers have to represent various views or social ideas or things like that? And if they have such responsibility, whose responsibility do you think it is? Like a director? Or is it the whole team or what?

BG: I don't think it's up to creators to be even-handed. It'd be like saying, "Hey, Michelangelo. As long as you're making David, can you make Goliath?"

Creation does not understand responsibility, unlike the government-supported media, whose job is supposedly to inform a democracy. The job of art is to inspire, and you want people to go in deep on something. You don't want them to try and present both sides. What you do want to do, honestly...

The Odyssey is a good example of it. There's more violence in The Odyssey than there is in Grand Theft Auto, and it's considered socially redeeming because there's some sense that Odysseus gets his comeuppance.

And it might be a little bit of irony when he wraps the chain around the necks of the town who put up with the enemy soldiers, but the reason that it's is powerful is because you kind of identify with the character and his plight, and you feel the emotion that he felt, and not because the artists adhered to an even-handed history.

Right. I don't necessarily mean to indicate that game developers should feel as though they have to represent all views, but I guess it seems a shame that structures don't exist to support certain types of things. It's amazing that a game like Flower or something like that exists, but there aren't many vehicles for that within traditional games. There's more of that on the web or whatever. I guess it feels like not enough people are pushing for it.

BG: In the world of movies, there is a place for art films. You can make them for more money, you make them weird and unusual, and they have a following. I don't think there's kind of...

You could have a value judgment that everybody should watch them. You could have a value judgment that everybody should eat foie gras, but it's kind of similar. It's a narrow taste and kind of expensive to do.

I'm coming from the perspective of perhaps games' perception outside of the industry.

BG: But there's a reason why Shakespeare that has Falstaff and sword fighting and murder is more popular than his sonnets. So, he did multiple things, and they stood the test of time. I think that's the same with all creations. You can do something for a narrow specialty audience, or you can do something more broadly that works on multiple levels.

Well, I think there's a different obviously between broad and bland, and I think unfortunately a lot of games tend toward the bland view of getting a wide audience versus trying to take something and twist it, you know?

BG: That's been a critical complaint about creations forever.

[laughs] Okay.

BG: What architects say is that, to some degree, the caliber of their work depends on the caliber of the planet. Here's what I think about it. There are an awful lot of people in the world, where if they got asked, "If I gave you 50 million dollars, would you give me 90 minutes of filmed entertainment," who would say yes.

And it isn't if their fault if what they turn out isn't always good. So, you know, the hard job there is funded. There are more people who can make stuff than there are people who can get the 50 to 90 million bucks. So, shame on bad clients.

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