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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Spector's Clarification

"You don't think the GTA team could rock hard on something that didn't involve criminal behavior? Wouldn't you love to see them try? That's what I was saying. Well, that and the fact that it's worth our while to examine what our content says about us--as a medium and as contributors to our culture. But that's a longer discussion for another time...

"Look, as an individual and as a player, I'm tired of so-called 'violent video games'--not because I think they cause real-world violence (I don't believe that for one second), but because the 'edgy,' 'violent' routine is getting so dull...

"I'm tired of urban crime, alien invasion, war stories and orc-killing. I'm tired of most every game having to be the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie. I'm tired of always having to solve game problems with a gun or a spear or a fireball (and not having to deal with the consequences of such a solution). I don't mind that we make games like that--I mind that the mainstream of console and PC games (apologies to Will Wright and the entire Nintendo DS lineup!) consists of almost nothing but that.

"Where's our Lost? Our CSI? Our Law & Order? Our West Wing? Our Seinfeld? Our musical Buffy episode? Okay, maybe those last two are a bit beyond our capabilities. But the others are within our grasp if we would only try, and if we could find someone to fund and truly support the not-insubstantial effort involved.
-- Warren Spector [gamespot]

Part of me agrees with this ... but isn't it enough that Rockstar has made the "playground" or "free roam" concept work so well that others can learn from it? Sure, some are cheap knock-offs ... but others are simply brilliant. Take Simpsons: Hit & Run or Mercenaries as examples. Rockstar isn't stopping anyone from making the game industry's version of Lost ... I just don't think we should knock them for not doing it themselves.

Sure, I want to see more innovative and interesting games. Course, San Andreas was fairly interesting by industry standards. While some in gamedev might bitch and moan about the urban aspects of the game ... it's still a great game, and a best-selling one at that. In terms of the market, someone has to come out with something that's compelling.

I think the industry needs to stop using Rockstar as an excuse for everything. It's not Rockstar's fault this country has a moral stick up it's ass. It's not Rockstar's fault that cinematique is the fasion for games these days. It's not Rockstar's fault that big budget games take fewer risks. Yes, all these things are true ... but invoking Grand Theft Auto is a) a magnet for nutcases like Thompson ... a fact Warren just learned ... and b) overfull with redudant and useless controversy as it is.

So maybe the next time someone wants to get the industry to think about originality, leaving GTA out of the discussion might be a good way to start.

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