Near-mythical game designer Tim Schafer reckons games need to look beyond cliched fantasy and science fiction inspirations in order for the industry to reach a broader audience. Is he right?
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, the genius behind Grim Fandango and Psychonauts, says:
"If you look at movies, they deal with everything about life. They deal with all aspects of life: romance, comedy, serious dramas. And games are mostly limited to the summer action blockbuster.
"They haven't really gone outside of that. But I think they will, and hopefully they will soon, or else people will be solidified in their view of games. Their expectations are set."
Schafer is quick to acknowledge that he's not exactly leading the way with his latest game, Brutal Legend:
"Not everybody wants to get into these super violent worlds and yet here I am making a game about broad axes and decapitation. But I think humour would get more people into games."
It's a valid point he raises. The success of games grounded in reality, such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and The Sims, might indicate that it's easier for a broad audience to enjoy something they can relate to.
Quantic Dream's David Cage would agree. For Heavy Rain, Cage deliberately steered away from the fantastical elements of his previous game, Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy).
“I believe it’ll be much more emotionally involving, as gamers will easily relate to the situations and characters. In Heavy Rain, you won’t be a superhero or a gangster. You’ll just be someone real.”
So, what about The Lord of the Rings or Star Trek or Lost? All successful films or TV shows that comfortably sit inside the sci-fi or fantasy genres both Cage and Schafer admit games need to move on from.
Yet all three use their unreal settings to depict real people dealing with very real situations, emotions and drama. Games tend to give us the former, but so very often forget the latter.
What are your favourite real world games? Or your favourite games that deal exclusive with real people experiencing real romance, comedy and drama?
Subject matter is biggest barrier to entry for games - Schafer [GamesIndustry.biz]