David Cage, CEO of French gaming company Quantic Dream (creator of influential titles such as The Nomad Soul and Heavy Rain) had plenty to say on the evolution of the gaming sector at this year’s D.I.C.E Summit, as he honed in on the need for concept change at the heart of gaming. His argument focused on how gaming has kept the same audience by making the same style of game for four decades, either platform (run and jump) or survival (kill things, before they kill you).
Play any number of games in the marketplace right now and you will feel, at the core of the experience that you have played it before. Cage argues that gaming needs to become more about people, and choices than guns and cars if it is ever going to reach a broader audience - i.e. games that are not based on mastering pre-accepted systems of gameplay. He refers to this as “digital entertainment”, games that focus on the human condition, where the ‘journey’, rather than the ‘challenge’ is at the heart of the experience.
His notion of “games with meaning”, as opposed to ‘toys’, may seem slightly cerebral for the Call of Duty generation, but for adults tired of having their ass kicked by a ten year-old with a machine gun online, the concept of games that deliver deeper, more engaging narratives - akin to the success of long-form TV series and movies - has genuine value.
You can view his whole presentation 'The Peter Pan Syndrome: The Industry that Refused to Grow Up' here. Meanwhile FRUKT takes a look at some key trends in gaming as the sector looks to unlock a whole new story driven level.
SECOND SCREEN ENTERTAINMENT
Part game, part TV show, Defiance is actively looking to transcend the boundary between gameplay and cinematic narratives with an innovative new take on immersive gaming. The project will exist simultaneously as an MMO third-person shooter and a TV series on the SyFy channel, with gamers/viewers able to dip into both. The transmedia franchise, set to roll out in April, is a pioneering attempt at cross-storytelling, billed as "one world, but with two ways in" by Syfy president Dave Howe.
Nine years in development, and with $105 million sunk into the project, this is an investment not just in a one-off concept piece, but an investment in the future hybrid of play driven entertainment for the second screen generation. Definitely one to watch (especially for fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly)
BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL
A key issue with console gameplay is that, to quote Morrissey, it “says nothing to me about my life”. Gaming happens ‘over there’, in another dimension that feels entirely separate from the real world. Often this has been put down to a positive, the role of ‘escapism’, however, it’s hard to truly escape when the surroundings of your living room conflict and contrast so starkly with the on screen action.
Attacking this juxtaposition head on is Microsoft Research, which – with the help of Kinect sensors and the creation of illumiRoom – is taking gaming literally out of the box. With a knowing nod to the projection mapping marketing frenzy of the last few years, this offers up a highly immersive gaming experience, bringing gamers into much closer proximity with the action.
With fans of the $3.38 billion grossing Halo franchise eagerly awaiting a movie that never seems to materialise, Microsoft and 343 industries dropped a sizeable $10 million on producing a live action mini series to promote the release of Halo 4, the latest instalment in the long running sage.
Partnering up with Machinima, the gaming video portal that put content in front of 2.5 billion viewers in January, this 90-minute backstory to the Halo 4 universe netted 26 million views, helping to drive $220 million in console game sales on launch day.
What’s smart here is how the brand converts content (from marketing, to multi-part digital series online, to a DVD/Blu-ray release), highlighting how – in a world of short-form virals – the desire for long-form, story driven content is alive and well and driving the future of the genre.