Speaking at the DICE Summit yesterday, in what has been noted as a provocative talk at the DICE Summit yesterday [as cited by GIBiz], Quantic Dream’s David Cage told industry members that it’s time for the games business to “grow up.”
Cage says the industry refuses to grow up, calling it the “Peter Pan Syndrome,” and has therefore practically remained the same for the last 40 years with the best selling games the Call of Duty games or GTA.
Elaborating further, Cage says there are essentially only three genres: kids games, casual and violent games. He also believes the same themes, same worlds and same paradigms are being used.
With new platforms appearing emerging and with digital distribution on the up, Cage believes the industry is under pressure to evolve with the changes. And with tougher competition for entertainment time nowadays, he says the industry needs to figure out how to keep people playing games.
Cage outlined nine things the he believes the industry needs to change to grow up:
1. Make games for all audiences. How can we make your mother or grandmother play games? It’s time to invent interactive entertainment for adults, he said.
2. We must change our paradigms. Violence and platforms are not the only way. We’re in an industry where game designers don’t know what to do if the character isn’t holding a gun, he lamented. You can define interactivity in many different ways. Can we make games that are not based on systems? When you get older, you don’t necessarily want to compete in a game with others. You don’t want your ass kicked by a 10-year-old. So can we as an industry make games with no gun?
3. The importance of meaning. Many games have absolutely nothing to say. They are empty, he said. So can we create games that have something to say, that carry an idea, that tell you something that resonates with you? Let authors come in! Most games are written by designers or graphic artists or others, he noted. All real world themes should be used – any theme you know in real life could be used in a game. Can we create games that talk about relationships, feelings, politics, homosexuality? Games should be a mirror for what you are, Cage remarked. The game will leave an imprint on you. You will keep thinking. This is what any creative medium should achieve, he asserted.
4. Become Accessible. Focus on minds, not thumbs! He said games should just be about going on a journey, not just about challenging you – like the aptly named Journey, he said.
5. Bring other talents on board (he cited those he’s worked with like David Bowie, Ellen Page).
6. Need to establish new relationships with Hollywood. For a long time they saw games like licensed products, but games can be more than that and should be a respected medium, he said. It’s time for constructive, balanced partnerships. Cage said game makers and Hollywood can invent a new form of entertainment together.
7. Changing our relationship with censorship. This is a big issue for Cage, which he said he could probably spend 4 hours talking about alone. He noted that while he sees himself as a writer, and he sometimes uses violence or sex, he doesn’t like that he has someone looking over his shoulder saying he can’t do this or that. It’s okay in a movie or TV series, so why isn’t it okay in a game? The answer has always been it’s because games are interactive. But the truth is it’s no different and games are protected by First Amendment now, Cage commented. We shouldn’t have different constraints than film, and it’s crazy that we should feel constrained like film was in ’60s,” he said. Cage was also shocked by some games he saw at E3. Some games are just more violent and gruesome and are gratuitous; “we behave like stupid teenagers ourselves, and we need to stop this,” he said. “If we don’t want to be accused each time something terrible happens, we should show that we are serious, responsible and respect our medium and customers.”
8. The role of press. Press is very important, Cage said. He stressed that press are generally very clever, they analyze the business, they evangelize it and try to educate. But he also blasted another segment of the press: the game critics. He claimed that they “aren’t press”. Being a critic is a serious job but not everybody has the skill for it, he said. He complained that there’s no analysis from critics.
9. The importance of gamers. Buying or not buying a game is almost like a political vote, Cage explained. “Buy crap and you will get more crap. Buy risky, ambitious games and you will get more of them. So buying games is also a responsibility,” he said.
Cage concluded to explain that he wants to see games transform from “games” to “digital entertainment,” accessible to all. He wants games to be open to all themes and genres, talk to society in meaningful ways, should be based on the journey, not the challenge, should be cross platform.