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Hello Games: "Anything can be made wonderful"

Murray concerned about "social games just built around rewards and pyramid schemes"

Hello Games boss Sean Murray has called for more developers to imbue their titles with creative as well as commercial enthusiasm.

"Some game developers, they don't play their own games, they don't feel it's an expression of themselves," he argued at Evolve In London yesterday. "I think that's very sad.

"I think some of the gameplay mechanics that are in the social gaming space are more indicative of that, there are certain pyramid scheme elements to the game design that I don't think anyone who just wanted to make a game that they themselves would play would ever put that in.

"The social games of the future that are just built around rewards and pyramid schemes... maybe don't have as much a place in that world," he reasoned.

Demonstrating videos of Hello Games staff laughing uproariously whilst playtesting Joe Danger, and the toys that they'd played with for inspiration, he claimed that "If you're having no fun making your game then you're in trouble," he said.

The key theme of his talk was that "Interactivity is what makes games unique. People shouldn't run away from that. They should embrace that."

Having shown imagery of everyday objects made more entertaining by small changes, such as rocket lift-off sound effects in an elevator, he argued that "Anything can be made wonderful, even the most boring mechanical thing. When I design a game, I often look at the world around me and think it's kind of boring, how could I make it more fun?"

Murray listed touch screens, processing power, voice control, cameras and augmented reality as potentially offering "more interactivity" and exciting him as a developer, although 3D remained a "maybe."

He was also highly positive about motion control in theory, but "inaccurate motion control actually reduces interactivity and that's harmful." He followed this by playing a now-infamous video in which a gamer places third in a Kinect Joyride race despite not moving throughout.

"It's such as shame, it's such a lost opportunity. It is actually a good game, but there's a danger of making games too casual and removing interactivity, and you see that sometimes. I think even the casual gamer doesn't want to just have reward."

He had high praise for Popcap, which had simply multiplied all scores in Peggle by ten following user complaints that the game seemed too hard, as well as famously playing Beethoven's Ode To Joy upon level completion.

"It's such a boring concept in theory, but they make it beautiful and amazing and I love them for it."

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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