E3 2003: Reaching The New Gamer

This is old by now, but Game Girl Advance has a write-up on a panel discussion at this year’s E3 called Reaching The New Gamer, with Stuart Moulder from Microsoft, Bing Gordon from EA, Todd Hollenshead from iD, Vince Broady from GameSpot, and moderated by Jason Rubin from Naughty Dog. It’s full with interesting little nuggets. Some random quotes:

Bing Gordon: “People who don’t play games are hard to convince, unless they’re a Lord of the Rings fan and they see a commercial. Best way to have a non-gamer start to play games is to have a dedicated gamer share games with them.” (Bing Gordon)

There’s more about marketing games and the position of games in current society.

Bing Gordon: “We focus more on the relations between characters to define relationships. The Sims uses a low-grade character emotional animations. We need the equivalent of a emotional physics engine.”

Stuart Moulder: “Technology occasionally serves as a crutch, instead of creativity or innovation, people work to develop better backend that doesn’t serve the game experience. Games call for subtler developments, more thought involved.”

I think this is the way to go. I think it is inevitable: you can already see it now. Audiovisual presentation is becoming more sophisticated, subject matter is becoming more nuanced and realistic: the internal simulation – which is, after all, what the player is really interacting with – has to follow. For various reasons the industry has put off making this leap, but it’s going to come, and I don’t think it’s far off.

Bing Gordon: “I wish we had more sex.”
Jason Rubin: “Would EA do that?”
Bing Gordon: “I think that would be challenging.”
Jason Rubin: “Why?”
Bing Gordon: “Because we’re prudes at EA. Also because we try to keep a statesman-like position on behalf of the industry so we can talk to Washington.”

I also wish we had more sex, and not just because of my own prurient interests. I’m just sick and tired of games with extreme violence but that are otherwise at the general emotional level of thirteen year olds. I recently heard of a high-profile, ultra-violent game that had to be changed because under certain unlikely circumstances it was possible to see something naughty, and Wal-Mart wouldn’t stock it. I think that if we’re doing versions of games with less violence (as is often done for the German market) and other adaptations for local markets, why not make a version with less sex for the US market? It’s already done in movies, think Basic Instinct or Eyes Wide Shut.

Mr. Gordon’s remarks also show a niche EA is unlikely to move into, and that is generally under-occupied in the industry. Except perhaps by Rockstar Games, my current employer. Games such as the GTA and Max Payne series definitely feature more sex and other mature elements than most AAA titles, even if it is all set in a sleazy crime setting.