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Getting from Modern War to the Future of Video Games
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Getting from Modern War to the Future of Video Games

August 14, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 6 of 7 Next

It does, but I guess what I'm also getting at is that as we've got this tremendous level of realism and this ability to achieve the believability you're talking about, and particularly as we're going to move into the next generation of consoles at the end of the year, and things are going to take another leap forward in terms of what you can do with these things -- does that drag forward our responsibility as creators to tell stories that are commensurate with that level of visual fidelity? You can communicate to players now on a tremendously nuanced level. But I'm not sure if everyone was prepared for it. 

MB: Okay, and here's what -- and this is my opinion and I could be wrong -- but I truly believe that games are more powerful to generate emotions and to make people reflect through meaning, through gameplay, through all that, than any other medium, because the player is in control. Okay? So that's my first assumption, or idea. 

Now, building on that, I think that we do have a responsibility as authors and as creators to embrace that, and to make people reflect on their lives, on why is it that we can have the latest iPhone in our pockets and on the other side of the planet people can't even have food once a week. I think games are meant for people to have reflections, and to change and to become better. 

But at the same time, we have the responsibility to do it properly, and I think that maybe we are lacking the game design experience, or the understanding of interactivity, to do it well. I think that right now, games that make you reflect on darker subjects or more complicated subjects, often, they're hiding behind graphics. It's a 2D game, so yes, it's a 2D game about death, but because it's in 2D, you swallow it better. I think that's fine. 

I think probably one of my favorite games of last year, like probably a lot of people, was Journey. And why? Well, because Journey made me reflect upon death. And that's it. It was treated in a great way, and the mechanic in the game revolved around that, and made me reflect throughout it. It was a very powerful emotional game for me. I went through some death in my family and that game really touched me. 

At the same time, I'm hoping that we're going to get to a point where we can touch people the same way Journey touched me, with a game like Splinter Cell or a game like Assassin's Creed where the graphics are realistic and it's true humans that are telling me a story -- I can be touched that way and be in control, and it's not just a game forcing an emotion on me, but just me through my decisions, living those emotions as strongly, or even more strongly, than in a non-interactive medium. 

RD: Also, remember we're constantly trying to hit a moving target here. If you look at every other storytelling medium, it has been stable for at least a hundred years. Filmmaking, the language has likely stayed the same since George  Méliès. Theater has largely stayed the same since Shakespeare. Books, since Gutenberg. And there's been time to iterate and perfect the craft and perfect the ways of communicating this material. 

And you look at what we're doing. The hardware is constantly changing. What can we do when the hardware is constantly changing -- we're constantly evolving and trying to simultaneously maximize the potential of the tools that we have to play with while telling these stories. And because you're trying to hit a moving target, you're going to have a hit and miss ratio. 

I don't think it's an accident that a lot of the games that people are pointing to as stirring these deeper emotions have been ones that have not been necessarily bleeding edge, that were built as more of a stable technology, things like Passage, for example. Those are games where the technology and the sandbox was clearly defined, and that allowed a, for lack of a better way of putting it, an ability to concentrate on just one aspect of creating something that was more emotionally moving, because there was a place where you knew that you could aim. 

With what we're doing, with these advances in technology, with the new consoles, we're trying to do that, but at the same time, we don't know at any given moment the tools we have to do it with, and when you don't know the tools that are in your kit, you don't know what you're going to be able to build with it. 

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