Think about how often video games surprise you. Okay, now compare that to how often video games do nothing more than what we expected of it. Depressing, right? In a recent interview with Gamasutra, David Cage said something interesting. He said that it's the goal of creative people "to surprise people all the time, and give them something different".
"The thing is that, if you just give people what they expect, I think you're not doing your job as a creative person," said Cage. "You're just a marketing guy. Your job as a creative person is to give people what they don't expect — or what they expect, without knowing that this is what they want."
Whether you love Heavy Rain or hated it, it's hard to deny that it surprised people. For better or worse.
"So, yeah, I think we should have more courage in our industry, and take more risks, because I think this is what the industry needs now," continued Cage. "I mean, how many first person shooters can you make? How many monsters slash aliens slash zombies can you kill in games? There's a moment where we need to grow up. We need to grow up.
"I often think that the industry suffers of the Peter Pan syndrome. It's the fact that we don't want to grow up, so we stay kids. But there is a moment where you need to grow up as an industry. And you cannot keep up with the Peter Pan syndrome. At some point you need to grow. I think this is the right time."
Part of me takes issue with the whole 'we need to grow up' thing — it does come off patronising — but another part agrees, or at the very least empathises with the play it safe attitude of most big budget games. But it's far more complicated than that — there's money at stake, and jobs. David Cage has his brand, and his niche. And it's his niche because other studios tend to do what is expected of them.
It's a tricky situation, but the refreshing thing, for me at least, is I can see games spreading their reach. Games are being developed for a broader audience and the scope is becoming broader. Sure, video games can be dull, and predictable, but I feel as though, more and more, I'm being surprised by games. And that's a good thing.
Oh, and you should read the full Gamasutra interview. Very interesting indeed!
Big Ideas: Video Games According to David Cage [Gamasutra]