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Gaming Discussion / Warren Spector: Hey, You Kids! Get Outta My Yard!
« on: February 25, 2013, 08:25:00 am »
Two weeks ago Warren Spector, the guy behind Deus Ex, made a very interesting speech.  As always Spector is verbose, but I found many of his comments fascinating:

1) The Graying of Gaming

Gamers got older. The average age of gamers is arounds 30 nowadays (33 in France, 30 in the US). When you hit the 30's life takes it toll on you. If everything goes smoothly you have a job, a partner and even kids maybe. It's very hard to devote 100 hours/month for a game:

So you know we’ve lived through the transition from Geek Entertainment to almost Mainstream Medium anyway. But there is something that’s different :  We’re different !...We are getting older…As a young gamer I needed 100 hours of gaming. I needed it, you know…I could ditch anything in my life and focus on games…20s and 30s and 40s something not so much. All of a sudden there’s competition for your time…I got to the point where a 20 hour game : perfect…You just don’t have the time anymore…But there’s more just that the time…It’s about the content…(4 :33 min)

2) Adult Content

Seeing we got older, he’s encouraging Developpers and Publishers to make games for a somewhat Senior audience. More mature games. To illustrate his point his mentioned 2 games which made a big impression on him: Heavy Rain and The Walking Dead. By the way I never played these, so if anyone of you played them I’d gladly hear their opinion:

I want content that is relevant to my life, that is relevant to me, that is set in the real world…If we’re gonna reach a broader audience, we have to stop thinking about that audience strictly in terms of teenage boys, or even teenage girls. We need to think about things that are relevant to normal humans.(9:22)
But the really cool thing, the thing that blew my mind about those two games [Heavy Rain and The Walking Dead] was that they weren’t just about, you know, ideal Nordic bodybuilding heroes and they weren’t about like big events. They celebrated the ordinary, the quotidian,  the everyday, they made a dinner compelling, they made a hug compelling, they made playing with the kid compelling,…when you can make every day activities as compelling and cool and as fun as a firefight I think you’ve really accomplished something…They kinda changed the way I think…obviously these games are in my design real house…(9:50 min)

Some Comments :

The way he's talking about games needing a heavy involvment (time/skills) is really sad. I understand he got older and changed, but he shouldn't dismiss those games so lightly. I mean Warren is fondly remembered for the very kind of games he's ditching today. (Ultima Underworld, System Shock and Deus Ex,…).

Another reason Warren Spector made his keynote speech: The man is jobless. Indeed three weeks ago Disney Interactive closed the company he founded : Junction Point Studios. So he’s clearly making a nudge at Publishers showing he’s available. Sadly I fear most Publishers won’t be interested. First because the man has so much experience (that is: because of his ‘age’) and then because of his speech about ‘every day games for normal people' (that is: not for a teenage audience). I don’t think many will follow him on this one either. but if Spector is serious about it and some Publisher has the will to follow him, I would be interested in their project. Just in the hope he would propose a refreshing concept or new gameplay mechanics. Well! Maybe I'm dreaming,

Thirdly I was really surprised when Warren Spector referred to video games as ART ! You know this subject was very topical a few years ago. I remember an 8 page article written by O. Boulon (editor-in-chief of canardpc, a French gaming magazine and a forum). His conclusion was that gaming wasn't art. For him what defines a videogame is GAMEPLAY. Personally I don't have a definitive opinion (though over the years I lean towards the gameplay side).

Finally he’s actually encouraging Developpers / Publishers to make games for a somewhat Senior audience. More mature games. But when you look at the games he produced in the recent years you find he's just contradicting himself. (Come on! Epic Mickey 1 & 2!).

I may sound a little harsh but I like the man. In this vid Warren showed he was still a smooth-talker ("Maybe there's more to life than blasters and broadswords") and still capable of giving another take on the game industry.

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