Irrational Interviews is by far my favourite gaming podcast. Studio head and creator of Bioshock Ken Levine brings in guests, typically creative people working in other mediums, and they discuss their own processes. This time Guillermo del Toro is on the show and it may be the best episode yet. Expanding on his work with Volition on the upcoming horror game Insane, Del Toro discussed his thoughts on game narrative which, according to him, has its “own f**king set of rules”!
“I think the mistake people make is thingking that they are similar in the way you articulate it,” said Del Toro. “I think that the set of tools you have to make a good movie, you would be really stupid to think you are using those to make a game, or vice versa. They are completely different because the interaction with the receiver, with the audience, is passive — so you control rhythm…
“It’s not a medium where you are going to wander if you’re just an interested observer,” he continued. “You have to be a gamer and you have to be completely absorbed by the possibility of narrative in the games — with their own set of f**king rules. Many times you have a filmmaker who says, ‘Oh there’s money in video games, I’m going to go and make a video game!’
“Video games are, I have no doubt, the bridge to the future of genre narrative. You’re not gonna see the narrative of an Almodóvaror or an indie filmmaker wane, but big genre, artistically challenging, brilliantly done storytelling — holy shit, there’s a lot you can do in games that you can never even dream of doing in movies or tv or comic. If you can’t see that differentiation — it’s like with comics and people say they are like story boards. You know what? No. They are not.”
Del Toro also discussed his relationship with Volition during the creation of Insane.
“Even with designing the video game I’m designing right now, which is a game called Insane for THQ, I’ve been trying to select it in the same way I select who participates in my movies,” he said. “It’s almost like casting your crew, you know? I think if you cast your collaborators carefully you really are able to repeat them now and then. The mistake is to repeat them for the wrong reasons. If there’s guys I’m using — a musician or a composer or a designer that is not right for a movie — even if you work with him two or three times, you don’t want him in that movie or that game. Some of the guys who designing with me in the movies have come with me to work on the game — but I didn’t force it. I think the biggest mistake is forcing a collaboration…
“The video game model is simiar to the old studio model where you have contract players, a contract set of gaffers a contract set of cinematographers and you literally have to pipeline stuff. Knowing how to use it is I think is the art there. For example with volition at THQ when I was doing Insane, I looked at all the reels, I played the game I looked at what they’ve done, but then I went and met with everyone. I met with the heads of the sound department, with the heads of design — and finally you go, I feel right about this developer. I feel right about this one. Even if the game before was Saints Row you can see the tools, you can see the intelligence, you can see the advantages. There are instinctively some similarities.”
It really is a fascinating interview, and it’s great to see a filmmaker like Del Toro, who is obviously so well versed in his own field, talk intelligently about video games.
Irrational Interviews 9: Guillermo del Toro, Part 1 [Irrational Games]