Growing Up Or Just Getting Old?

David Cage is a poor figurehead for industry evolution - but that doesn't make his arguments invalid

There are few real certainties in this world, we're told. Night will follow day, death and taxes are inevitable, and little else is fixed in stone. Here's a new one for you, though - David Cage opens his mouth, and an internet horde falls over itself to dismiss him as an utter irrelevance and competes to see who can most loudly and haughtily proclaim themselves to be ignoring him.

"We have spent decades coming up with the most remarkable entertainment medium ever conceived - and it is still used primarily to let you shoot or stab people"

David Cage makes games which a lot of people don't like. He made Heavy Rain, which aimed to blur the lines between interactive fiction, movies and games, and now he's making Beyond: Two Souls, which continues focusing on notions such as capturing acting performances or delivering narrative. We haven't seen very much of the game yet, and already detractors are lining up to submit their own pithy version of "go make movies and leave games alone" for perusal.

If you're going to be unpopular with these people - and really, I'm not sure Cage loses much sleep over it - you might as well go for broke. Stand up on stage and tell people that the games industry needs to grow up. Criticise it for being really, really bad at giving players any kind of agency that doesn't involve pulling a trigger. Accuse it of Peter Pan syndrome, of failing to address the vast swatches of humanity who aren't teenage boys of all ages. For a final shot at a home run, imply that the press (who'll be setting the tone of the reporting of your speech) are crap at the job of game criticism and complicit in holding back the medium. All done! Now sit back and let the hatred wash over you - a bracing, cleansing wave of digital bile.

Even as someone who actually quite likes Cage's games (I enjoyed Heavy Rain, for all its terrible flaws, and liked it even more after watching my flatmate playing through it and having a very different narrative experience), I often suspect that he's setting out to yank people's chains. His tone is combative and accusative, his thoughts arranged into soundbites which are honed to incense audiences on sites like Kotaku. I don't buy the notion that he's doing this just to build awareness ahead of the launch of his new game, though - that's a little too cynical, even for me. Rather, I think he simply enjoys the conflict. Bear in mind, after all, that the art of straight-faced trolling and accompanying appetite for controversy were practically invented by French thinkers, creators and artists, long before 4chan was ever dreamed of. In a sense, Cage is following a grand Gallic tradition.

Still, even while acknowledging that he's terribly entertaining and does a good job of throwing these discussions into the public eye, I do sometimes wish that Cage would tone it down just a little. Not because I disagree with him, but precisely because I think the points he makes are important and valid, and I fear that their import is lost or dismissed in the ensuing melee.

"Even more exciting is the arrival in the creative sphere of the generation for whom interactivity is simply the default"

Dispense with the ad hominem attacks and consider the core of Cage's argument separately from the man himself. There's not a lot to disagree with in there. We have, after all, spent decades coming up with the most remarkable entertainment medium ever conceived - a marriage of art and technology which allows designers to give players the freedom to go anywhere, be anyone and do anything - and it is still used primarily to let you shoot or stab people. I'm not remotely prepared to believe that this is a sad reflection of the decline of human society or any such banal guff. It's much more practical than that; it's a completely normal reflection of the mindset you get when you put a load of teenage and early twenties males together to create something, and then allow their creativity to evolve almost completely devoid of external input.

That's what's happened - as simple and clear as that. A medium created by young men has developed in extraordinary isolation, growing up around a closed loop in which young men bought games created by other young men. Some of the young men got older, but that doesn't mean they grew up. Video games - or at least the core of video games, the AAA titles - spent decades as a creative Galapagos, cut off from external influence and denied injections of external DNA. The basic genetic material of video games (a gun in your hand, a horde awaiting its bullets) evolved and branched off into a host of different directions, to the point where those of us on the inside of the whole thing insist that there are a multitude of entirely different genres which just happen to focus on man-with-a-gun, missing the fact that most of them are really just inbred mutations rather than magnificent new species.

Of course, the only reason we're even having this discussion now - the only reason Cage even gets to stand on a stage and make these claims - is because the world discovered our little Galapagos archipelago. New species have been introduced. New people are playing games, and new people are creating them, too. Man-with-a-gun is still king of the jungle in the world of AAA, but lots of fresh DNA is flowing into gaming from other places. People whose creative roots are in literature or theatre or art or music are beginning to chip in, their talents and ideas opening up the potential for new and unusual ways to create and experience interactive entertainment. Even more exciting, perhaps, is the arrival in the creative sphere of the generation for whom interactivity is simply the default - for whom combining narrative and emotion with player agency seems natural, not forced.

Some people don't like that. Some people - some very vocal people, at that - want to jealously guard the word "game", to define the interactivity it suggests in a way which describes that which appeals to them and excludes that which appeals to these other, new people. Some of these new people didn't even grow up with video games properly, for god's sake! They never swapped C64 games by copying tapes for friends and swapping them in the school yard! They never got bullied for liking Elite or Lords of Midnight better than Manchester United!

"Games should welcome and embrace the potential offered by being a medium which can put to use the talents of almost any creative field you care to mention"

I'm being a little facetious, but not entirely. There is a reasonable discussion to be had about the word "game", albeit one which veers into pointlessness if it fails to acknowledge that video games are an apex predator of media, devouring wholesale many aspects of film, literature, theatre, music and art to fit onto the framework of interactivity. However, the force and even viciousness of the response to Cage's criticism suggests that the primary driver of this backlash is not a rational discontent with the definition of words, but an emotional, aggressive rejection.

Part of the problem, though, is undoubtedly Cage himself. He's too easy a target for the ad hominem response - and he almost always oversteps the mark, such as in his out-of-hand dismissal of "kids" games as an irrelevance, which in the process overlooked the entire oeuvre of incredibly important creators and pioneers such as Shigeru Miyamoto. Besides, when it boils down to it, Cage's games are fascinating experiments but not actually terribly good at many of the things he challenges others to achieve. Heavy Rain attempted to draw in cinematic elements, but suffered from utterly dreadful scriptwriting (and for all Cage's posturing about the industry's treatment of women, was shamefully awful in its handling of female characters - Beyond: Two Souls had really better improve on that front) and cack-handed direction. That it was an intriguing experience in spite of those failures is a testament to the power of the underlying idea, not to its execution. Indeed, Cage should be careful what he wishes for - until his writing and direction improves significantly, he of all people should be wary of demanding more rigorous media criticism of games.

The backlash does teach us something useful, though - it teaches us that Cage has a point in another important regard. His instant dismissal at the hands of the internet horde as a "frustrated film director" who should "get out of games and just make movies" really does illustrate his point about the industry's failure to embrace talent from across the spectrum. When novelists turn their hand to scriptwriting, are they greeted with such derision? When artists collaborate with directors to design unique visuals for movies, are they told to hightail it back to the gallery and stop playing at film making? I doubt it. We do need to grow up. David Cage may be a poor proponent of this view, but that doesn't render his arguments invalid. Games should welcome and embrace the potential offered by being a medium which can put to use the talents of almost any creative field you care to mention. Man-with-a-gun isn't going anywhere - but we really must stop getting so upset at the notion that our medium can and must reach out beyond his violent little fiefdom.

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Latest comments (32)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development8 years ago
Now cancelling my request for David Bowies email address. Maybe we can concentrate on our own stars now...
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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 8 years ago
Some points true and some just plain nonsense.

First of all gamers don't play games to re-live the gritty side of life. They play to get away from it. They certainly don't play to be made miserable. Having said that. If a game has a strong character that people relate to, then it's quite conceivable to put that character is situations that would normally be considered off limits. Effectively introducing the players to subjects the author cares about but, not in an "I'm forcing my opinion on you!" kind of way. Games are not the kind of arena where you can simply change the channel if the program offends you. The player has paid 60 dollars for the experience and ultimately it should be a satisfying one not a soapbox for someone's angst.
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Marty Howe Director, Figurehead Studios8 years ago
Even as someone who actually quite likes Cage's games (I enjoyed Heavy Rain, for all its terrible flaws, and liked it even more after watching my flatmate playing through it and having a very different narrative experience)

That sounds like bullshit.
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Show all comments (32)
Rob Fahey Columnist, GamesIndustry.biz8 years ago
Marty: By the time he reached the final stretch of the game, he had a different cast of characters to mine (some I'd thought were core characters were dead; one whom I'd thought you couldn't save was still alive) and a number of major scenes had played out very differently for him. His ending was entirely different, both narratively and tonally, from the one I got. Of course, it was still a story about the same basic elements (the killer was the same, etc.), but the narrative experience was unquestionably different. Hence I respect what Cage tries to do, even if I don't always think he does it very well.
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University8 years ago
Cage made some excellent points but made them very poorly; he also ignored the steps forward some sectors of the industry have taken with wider audienced focused games, particularly considering that the success of Wii and DS, and now tablets, social networks and phones, have come about by building experiences that don't have an equivalent on other consoles because they targeted audiences that wouldn't normally buy consoles. It's a shame on Nintendo's part they've failed to build on that success; they introduced more complex IP like Professor Layton and Animal Crossing to that audience--games that are quite far away from the stab-and-shoot mechanics--but have yet to follow that up with other IP that can stand alongside their traditional fare like Zelda and 3D Mario, as a critically acclaimed, artistically and technologically ambitious design that just happens to appeal to the expanded audience. Well-built exercise games are a great accomplishment for diversifying what interactive entertainment can offer, sure, but where are the follow ups to experiences like (the Level 5 developed) Layton, and Animal Crossing, which is busy building an even wider audience for 3DS in Japan? Where are the new experiences from Nintendo? It's no wonder the wider audience are only being attracted by mobiles, social and tablets, because they are the only devices sufficiently feeding that audience.

"Man-with-a-gun isn't going anywhere - but we really must stop getting so upset at the notion that our medium can and must reach out beyond his violent little fiefdom."

I think it's one of the reasons mobile games and the Wii were treated with such hostility by sections of the media and enthusiast gamers: because these were experiences that dared not to appeal to the 18 to 30 year old market, and what's more, they had the balls do it brazenly and with large marketing campaigns, and then, for shame, they even had the balls to be hugely successful.

Ultimately though, if you make an excellent point poorly, the point itself can become lost. While I agree whole-heartedly with this article, and to an extent with Cage, that we need to have this debate about growing and diversifying not just the audiences gaming feeds but how and with what they are fed, I don't think Cage has done that debate much favour. By choosing to inflame rather than enlighten the debate, Cage risks setting that debate back and closing ears that otherwise might listen and take part in this debate.
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Lance Winter Senior Game Designer, Splash Damage8 years ago
I have no issue with the ambition of games like Heavy Rain, Fahrenheit - just the execution.

It's a wonderful idea to provide the player with other ways to interact with a world other than shooting it, hitting it, or driving through it. The problem is that if the interactions exist only on a spectrum of tedious to frustrating, then the gameplay is getting in the way of the narrative, rather than being a vehicle for it.
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Benjamin Crause Supervisor Central Support, Nintendo of Europe8 years ago
I like David Cage. His Back then his GDC Cologne talk was already quite good but I think with his presentation at DICE he hit the nail on the head.

Contrary to what others claim I don't see him dismissing kids, casual and violent games. Rather he wants that we add one more category to it. We need to get in line with ratings and censorship. We must use proper narrative to tell an actual story to make a game an experience. Sure, this is not valid nor necessary for all games. But the number of games actually doing so is rather poor. I have played many great games but stopped most of them because of the poor or non-existing narrative. I am a story driven person. Yet I also enjoy some casual games or violent shooters. It depends on the mood and how much time I have a given day. The problem is the availability of good games for adults outside of the violent and casual genre.

Rather than dismissing Cage for his attempt to raise awareness for certain aspects we should look at ourseves. So many people complain abut this and that but they all do vote with their wallet. And we all can see where this is going because too many people allow themselve to be exploited by the big companis (DLC, F2P, etc) are all abused. Great franchises are milked to death. And the big players are too afraid of fighting against unequal and unfair ratings and self-imposed censorship.

So where is Cage all so wrong?
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Jed Ashforth Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe8 years ago
Some very valid observations from my POV, Rob.

Whether it's Rovio telling us what good gameplay is all about, Naughty Dog telling us all how to do storytelling, or Cage telling us to grow up, 'big name' developers who have had some lucky successes need to stop soapboxing and prove with actions what they keep telling us with words.

Plenty of people think the same thing as you, David, you're preaching to the converted already - but if you want to position yourself as an authority on the subject you need to earn that right through your work, consistently, with a proven track record.
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Neil Alphonso Lead Designer, Splash Damage Ltd8 years ago
So where is Cage all so wrong?
He states the blatantly obvious in a sensationalist manner for PR purposes. There are many other things that are far more deserving of attention.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Neil Alphonso on 8th February 2013 11:06am

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Ben Gonshaw Game Design Consultant, AKQA8 years ago
The interesting thing about this is the debate it has stirred.
People have been talking about genre stagnation since the 90's, back when all you saw were 2D brawlers, driving games, shmups and platformers.
As for games growing up - again, it's hardly a new topic.
Perhaps us game makers have got a few white hairs now (age is not indicative of maturity) - but I doubt we'll see a AAA experience like Requiem for a Dream, Hotel Rwanda or Schindler's List.
I'm going to troop out the old staples of markets/dev cost/ AAA demographics mismatch for that type of content - as the timeworn explanation - again a story we've seen many times before.
le plus ca change....
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Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief8 years ago
I wonder Iif David Cage has played The Walking Dead.
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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up8 years ago
Stopped reading half way through, as it just seems like some ones point of view, which is fine. I don't really get why its news.
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Adam Coate CEO & Founder, Coate Games8 years ago
I had no problem with the points Cage made. They seem perfectly valid to me. The mainstream game industry spends $30 million+ per project on games I couldn't care less about. Grand Theft Auto was great when I was 16-18 or so, but I don't really like those types of games anymore. I got rid of my Xbox 360 years ago when GTA4, Bioshock, and Fallout 3 all failed to keep me engaged. I would much rather a publisher spend $30 million making 30 unique, innovative, and risky games rather than one overbloated "safe" bet. And it wouldn't hurt if some of those games had deeper meaning than "guy saves girl from one-dimensional evil character".
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games8 years ago
i have a background in animation, and that this is exactly the same issue animation industry is facing. misplaced branding.

"cartoons are just for kids" is the phrase branded in people's mind mainly in the west. something that couldn't be further away from reality. animation, same as game development is just a way to offer an experience. in other countries, more towards the east, there are numerous animated movies which were not made for kids. strange movies, dark movies, sad movies, perverted movies... romantic movies and series about all sorts of things. whether it is profitable or not is irrelevant when it comes to a discussion about what this medium can accomplish. you can make games for 4 year olds, for 10, 20, 40 - 100 years old and any kind of audience you like. there are even bus driving farm truck and even garbage disposal simulations.

if we do not offer different kinds of games, we will never know the true potential of the medium. who's going to invest on this? one might ask. well... that is a very good one, but a different question altogether. the good thing is mobile now allows all this kind of experimentation. ;)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Yiannis Koumoutzelis on 8th February 2013 8:04pm

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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 8 years ago
I'm sorry, but the whole article is just BS to me.. I still have to see any new original game that hasn't been on the market before, even the principle of heavy rain has been done before, or minecraft or angry birds (just to name some recent hits)..
There are so many different games out there, but nothing really new if you really know your game history... Let's not forget that Cage has to sell his game(type), so it's understandable that he goes against the 'gun in hand' games...
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Taylan Kay Game Designer / Programmer / Marketer 8 years ago
Thanks for the great article, Rob. It is great to see there are real journalists in this industry who can separate the message from the messenger and report on each on their own merits, with proper decorum and without stooping down to ad hominem attacks. Thanks again.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Taylan Kay on 8th February 2013 4:31pm

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Pascal Clarysse Executive Consultant, Scale-Up Consulting Limited8 years ago
"Cage should be careful what he wishes for - until his writing and direction improves significantly, he of all people should be wary of demanding more rigorous media criticism of games."

That paragraph nails it on the head. That's precisely what I felt when I read about Cage's posturing, except I wouldn't have worded it up as eloquently as Rob Fahey if I had tried. A sentiment I've often had when reading his weekly editorials over the last decade ;-)
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Pascal Clarysse Executive Consultant, Scale-Up Consulting Limited8 years ago
He also seems to completely ignore of the existence of "The Walking Dead" video game from TellTale, which is pretty much succeeding in exactly those aspects Cage calls out the industry for failing, those things Cage once set out to achieve himself then miserably failed to deliver. Wrong messenger (out of touch with both reality of the medium and his own shortcomings), at the wrong timing (two-three years too late).
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Colin McBride Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds, Glasgow Caledonian University8 years ago
I've got a lot of time for Cage and I think he's largely right in what he says -- although his own execution doesn't exactly live up to his ideals. But there are signs that the industry is slowly growing up itself anyway thankfully -- but not without some growing pains (witness the terribly witless retarded adolescence Devil May Cry title recently)
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Joe Schultz Director, ByDesign Games8 years ago
Sorry Rob, IMO this article shouldn't have been published. Am not advocating Cage here, just expressing my response to this article.

Reasoning, the article isn't news but reads as opinion, one reflecting off of other people's opinions; none of which actually reflect our industry as whole, rather highlight a very small & narrow perspective (reminding that shouting at volume does not equal consensus).

You seem to be putting undue priority on what is essentially just some whiny blog articles from writers / players who have absolutely no facility for criticism or seeing things from other people's perspectives; a reliable hallmark of immaturity, and largely a cultural expression, in my experience.

To be clear, am not cheerleading for Cage here at all. Only recognizing that Cage comments on some (mostly) valid points in the our industry, given from his sole perspective. Adding, the public reactions that you seem to give so much weight to, only serve to prove some of his more critical points.

Seems with this article, you are trying to bring the whole thing together under some thin guise of greater understanding beyond the issue's individual participants, but it is drowned out by your own inability to differentiate the messenger from the message (ad-hominum; despite your repeated use of the term). Look no further than the article's title for one example of this.

As a result, the article does nothing to advance the dialog of the points Cage makes; so what is the point of the article? The end result comes off as is a lukewarm blathering that is as uninteresting as it is a waste of the reader's time.

To say, if you're going to jump in a public conflict Rob; pick a side first & try better to stay focused on the relevant issues.

Otherwise content here becomes just more narrow-focused, sensational drivel (which we have enough of from other sources, thank you very much).

If it matters, thought Heavy Rain was engaging & enjoyable and ultimately a worthy contribution to the ever-expanding interactive zeitgeist. Look forward to Cage's next project, if for nothing more than the fact that he attempts to reach beyond the narrow view you and others espouse in regards to what makes engaging interactive entertainment.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joe Schultz on 8th February 2013 8:45pm

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Steve Peterson Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
"it is still used primarily to let you shoot or stab people."

Oh, come now, Rob. There are plenty of games that let me blow people up.
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Pascal Clarysse Executive Consultant, Scale-Up Consulting Limited8 years ago
to Colin: "but not without some growing pains (witness the terribly witless retarded adolescence Devil May Cry title recently)"

There will always be games for teenagers. And there will always be terrible money-grabbing titles. To gauge whether the medium is maturing or not, we can't just pick one title in particular and build our analysis upon it. We can't hope for those to go away and be replaced by finer art either. Both have to live alongside one another. We should reflect on the wideness of the spectrum, and the diversity on offer within that spectrum. Cinema still has terrible Hollywood blockbusters coming out every summer, despite the fact it's a much older medium, and despite the fact that there are masterpieces done by true artists on a regular basis. The World needs both. Same goes for fantastic writers and terrible books; they co-exist. Wasn't there a Paris Hilton biography written recently? If not, there'll be one soon. And I think this is probably what makes Cage's logic flawed too: he doesn't pick one single title, granted, but he still pretty much focuses on the certain portion of the output that annoys him most yet conveniently enables him to build his point upon (i.e. the mass-market blockbuster console titles)... It doesn't hold ground though if you really look at some of the beautiful gems forging new paths, new segments, new audiences (and yes, some of these audiences are actual grown-ups) that we've seen pop out in the last few years. It's coming from all directions. Video games are ubiquitous and there are plenty of niches... At last. To even keep up with the flow has become arduous. No entertainment industry shall ever be defined solely by its mainstream... imho ;-)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pascal Clarysse on 9th February 2013 3:24am

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Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 years ago
I actually liked Heavy Rain. It's the only PS3 game I went back for all the trophies. As for Cage, well...he shares a last name with Johnny Cage so he can't be that bad. Right?
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Simon Garner Managing Director, Gameplanet NZ8 years ago
Sorry Rob, IMO this article shouldn't have been published. Am not advocating Cage here, just expressing my response to this article. Reasoning, the article isn't news but reads as opinion, one reflecting off of other people's opinions
It's Rob Fahey's weekly editorial, which by definition is opinion, not news. To be fair, GIbiz probably needs to do a better job of labeling which articles are opinion and which articles are news, as there's nothing to indicate this before you start reading. But criticising this piece as "not news" is absurd.
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David Serrano Freelancer 8 years ago
@Joe Schultz


Members of the core industry and game media may not like or respect David Cage, but it doesn't change the fact that he has flagged very real and serious problems which AAA developers and publishers can no longer ignore or dismiss.

Like it or not, here's the reality: between the early 1990's and 2005, the size of the core audience roughly doubled every two to four years. Prior to the release of the 360 and PS 3, the average age of a player had risen 35 to 36 years old and 40 percent of the audience was female. Shortly after the release of the 360 and PS 3 and the industry shift in focus towards multiplayer, the core market stopped growing. While almost every other segment of the market has experienced growth in the past few years, the core market has consistently lost market share. And the average age of a player is now 30 years old.

So what Cage is basically saying is how core developers and publishers currently define a game and play is far too narrow and esoteric to appeal to the potential audience. And he's correct. Core games have become unappealing and inaccessible to more people than ever before because developers have progressively placed more and more emphasis on challenge and unrealistic skill requirements than on play. And the result has been games that have more in common with the definition of a crucible than with play.

He's not claiming his work is the example which should be followed, he's simply pointing out that if the goal is to reach the potential audience, then core developers and publishers must massively expand their definition of what constitutes a game and play, while also placing the emphasis back on play.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Serrano on 9th February 2013 5:59pm

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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
My problem with Cage is he's incredibly hypocritical. Just as he speaks of expanding games to wider and more mature audiences he derides games that aren't full of hypreviolence as "kiddie." Do we call Pixar movies kiddie? No. So why do we toss that label to a game like Mario, Animal Crossing or Professor Layton? There are a lot of really intelligent games out there that aren't in David Cage's little bubble of a world. Heck, Brain Training and Wii Fit are much more games for adults than Heavy Rain is.

I agree the hyperviolence focus is irritating, but I don't agree that there are no games made for adults, nor that his style is indeed working to make games for adults, as he misses the most important aspect of gaming - interactivity. If you're talking about storytelling in the medium, people play games to be a part of another world, not watch that world float by.

David Cage's message about narrative in gaming is flawed at its core. Narrative in games excels when it's discovered by the player through interacting with the world, like Portal, Journey, or LIMBO. David Cage wants stronger narratives delivered, rather than discovered.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 9th February 2013 7:35pm

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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games8 years ago
I think we are focussing on the wrong thing here.
the problem is not the games that are out in the market. people are making games. designers, artists, companies publishers.

i do not find games adressed to teenagers a problem. why shouldn't there be?
the question is is why don't more of us make games for more diverse audience.
everybody expects someone else to stick their head out, so it gets all the bashing and then waltz in and say "we knew it all along. and we can tell you how it is done better" so far from the big ones only Nintendo has done that. it started with gamecube and followed later with DS and wii and now wiiU. in Japan, there are so many games for diverse audiences, and here in the west we only start to follow suit, and we mostly criticize all games that don't fit to the existing mold. i.e. love plus. senran kagura and so many. you might argue that these are aimed towards the same age group, however age group is not the problem. open mind and creativity when it comes to designing a new experience is. This is bad. Even when there are interesting and diverse game genres from Japan, or simply fresh takes on old genres, they still reach the west with great delays. Often when consumers have lost interest or simply were fed up waiting. (again this is something that publishers are to blame for not bringing these games to the west fast enough thus creating a new market that anyone could capitalize on.) I repeat my east/west pattern in this post as well, simply because there are a lot more studios in Japan that create more diverse games than in Europe and NA.
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Andreia Quinta Photographer 8 years ago
Nicely put Nicholas
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T. Elliot Cannon Game Designer 8 years ago
Games are in many ways like fictional writing (novels). Trends come and go and genres rise and fall in popularity. Just because Fifty Shades of Grey sells millions is no real reason to start jumping up and down because you would rather read Harry Potter or more reporting by Wolf Blitzer. Games are designed to engage our imagination. If you want content relative to your current life, try Tax software. Was The Shining an insightful commentary on the plight of man with writer's block in a snowbound hotel? Is a fictional Assassin during the Revolutionary War a symbol of childish immaturity? Nope!

The human imagination has nothing to do with age.
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Ah now, has anyone on this board yet put out a perfect game that succeeds in all areas? At least Cage tries and fails and, yes, exposes himself to easy slagging for it. I couldn't play Heavy Rain because I care too much about intuitive controls but I did watch my GF play it to the end and she loved it. Cage thinks that broadly AAA gaming makes no effort at wit or taste or humanity and I agree. Now I'm not a story guy, I don't care about the personal life of the hulk in the battle suit (or whatever) I'm using to gun down a star system. But whether we all got it or not HR was a very brave game to make.
So I respect him for what he tries to do with his work. He tries to do something new. So his games aren't perfect and he blows off in public occasionally - I'd still rather have a beer with him than 90% of the industry leaders who are generally just followers with money.
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David Serrano Freelancer 8 years ago
@Barry Meade


If core developers and publishers took real risks and continually released a diverse array of games, I'd be their biggest advocate and supporter. But the reality is they won't take even the smallest risks, which is why their games now represent more pretense than actual substance or value. Because most core developers and publishers now exclusively focus on the preferences and needs of a narrow demographic sub-segment of a sub-segment of the core market, then advertise and promote the games under the pretense they've been designed to be accessible and enjoyable for players in all segments of the core audience. I'm 48 years old and I know there hasn't been a high profile, big budget core game released since 2009 that has even remotely considered the preferences and skill sets of players like myself. I would have left the market years ago if it wasn't for a professional interest in game research.

I think like many older players, I'm still desperately waiting for core games to take the next step in their evolution. Reading between the lines, I think this is what Cage is actually advocating. Because it is time for core developers to take real risks and to abandon outdated concepts and paradigms. And Cage is not the only person saying this. In his book A Theory of Fun, Ralph Koster said the following: "Games can take forms we don't recognize. They might not be limited to being "a game" or even a "software toy." The definition of "game" implies certain things, as do the words "toy," "sport," and "hobby." The classic definition of "game" covers only some of the boxes in the grid. We need to start thinking of games a little more broadly. Otherwise, we will be missing out on large chunks of their potential as a medium."

So I look at it this way, core developers and publishers have a choice. In terms of mainstream relevance, influence and impact, do they want to continue to represent to the medium what AOL represented to the internet, communications and commerce in the late 80's, early 90's? Or do they want to make the radical changes which will allow core gaming to evolve into the medium's equivalent of Google or Facebook? Do they want to remain a 5 - 10 billion dollar segment of the market, or do they want to become a 50 - 100 billion dollar segment of the market? If it's the latter, then its time for everyone to simply accept the era of boss battles, leader boards and hardcore centric, combat based "play" must come to an end.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by David Serrano on 12th February 2013 5:14pm

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Craig Bamford Journalist 8 years ago
It's a bit amusing that both Cage and Fahey seem to avoid the core issue here: stories are about conflict, and interpersonal conflict that's both meaningful and nonviolent is generally social and therefore unbelievably hard for a computer to do properly. Yes, still.

We can't even get computers to have practical conversations with us yet. I think it's going to be a bit before we can get them to have fanciful ones.
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