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BioWare: Emotion is "crucial" to our titles

Managing editor Mac Walters believes that players must care what happens in a game

BioWare's managing editor Mac Walters has told GamesIndustry.biz that he believes that emotion is critical to producing a finished videogame experience, so that players "become attached to the characters and events" within that game.

"It's crucial," he said at the recent GDC Paris event. "Our mandate at BioWare is to create the best narrative-driven entertainment. Expressing emotion through that narrative, especially through our digital actors, is a key way of doing this.

"It's one thing to create an exciting new world that no one's ever explored before, but it's not enough to just create the space. We want the player to feel something about that place, to become attached to the characters and events. We want the player to care about what happens.

"That's impossible without conveying, and transferring, a strong emotional experience," he added.

But when it comes to movies like Beowulf, a title which some people feel bridges the gap somewhat between games and films, Walters disagrees.

"As a movie, I thought it was great. I felt similarly about the Final Fantasy The Spirits Within. But I judged them solely as movies - trying to directly compare them with video games is akin to comparing books and film, or plays and television. As much as they might borrow from each other, they need to be examined within the context of their own genre.

"Movies and games share a great deal, more and more every day. While there will always be comparisons, there will also be vast differences. A movie is a linear experience. The director and actors are telling you a story, and the viewer is along for the ride.

"In games, the story is lived and controlled by the player - that's the key difference. We can, and should, borrow from each other as much as possible, but we do our industry a great disservice (and vice versa) if we strive to emulate each other exactly."

BioWare released the hugely successful Mass Effect last year, which was acclaimed for its narrative elements. The full interview with Mac Walters is available now.

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