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To Play Or Not To Play?


September 27, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next
 

One studio that couldn't be accused of lacking in originality is Media Molecule, the Sony-owned studio behind the LittleBigPlanet games. But it turns out that two of its founders -- creative director Mark Healey and art director Kareem Ettouney -- are anything but obsessive gamers.

"I think I'm a bit ignorant to be honest," admits Healey. "I get to see the highlights, the things that are quite well known, but there's a bunch of stuff out there I don't have a clue about, to be honest. It's mainly about time with me, especially now I have a little boy. There's also the fact that you're sitting at a desk all day looking at a screen and you don't really want to look at a screen for all of your life. It is good to get a bit of balance in there."

In fact, playing games has never been a motivation. "Even before I had a computer, I was more interested in the idea of making things with it than consuming things on it," he says.

Ettouney describes his playing as being mainly in the name of research, and prefers to spend his free time painting or playing music.

"Artistically, I like to look at everything and to go to the source. You get games, for example, that have a very strong Art Deco feel, but instead of being inspired by that game I like to look at Art Deco itself. There is so much wealth of imagery and culture out there that it is nice to connect with it directly," he says.

"There are people who are great musicians and great writers and great storytellers who don't necessarily play much. I think that things that feed into development do not have to be direct. You don't have to make games and then play games -- you can make games and do kung fu and that will help your animation, or if you're a dancer, you understand elegance. It doesn't have to be literal."


LittleBigPlanet 2

What's important is that others on the team do have that in-depth knowledge of gaming, Ettouney says. "We need those people. We've got people in the team who are fluent in all the on-going stuff and they show us as well." Healey agrees: "There are people within Media Molecule who cover that range, so it's fine -- we're not completely in a bubble, but it's nice to have people who aren't completely immersed in that world."

That Media Molecule is a studio with a heavy focus on experimentation also helps. "All of us at Media Molecule are united by originality," says Ettouney. "Sony's philosophy is to publish games that are either the first or the best of their kind. The best mentality definitely requires that in-depth knowledge, if you're going to do another Killzone for example. But because we are very interested in the original, experimental side, that knowledge is not quite as important."


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