David Cage Wants Us to Grow Up

Heavy Rain Director David Cage wants gamers and the video game industry to grow up, evolve, and embrace “digital entertainment.”

Speaking at the DICE Summit in Las Vegas, Cage said, “I think we need to accept this idea of growing up and finally become adults.” In a manifesto titled “The Peter Pan Syndrome: The Industry That Refused to Grow Up,” he lectured to a room of video game industry executives about the need to evolve.

“If you look at Wolfenstein in 1992, and Call of Duty in 2012,” Cage said, “the graphics are incredibly realistic, but when you think about the concepts behind these games, they are really close. You still have to beat the computer or beat your friends, but the patterns or mechanics are always the same. Video games also live in what I call Wonderland, a dimension that’s so not connected to the real world. They talk about things that are totally unrelated to what we all know. The conclusion: We have the same audience after 40 years.”

Cage wants games to be able to reach all audiences. “How do we make content that will talk to your mother or grandmother?” he asked. “How do we make them play? Can we make content, interactive experiences, for an adult?”

A paradigm shift is what’s called for, according to Cage. “We cannot hope to keep doing the same things the same way and expand our market overnight,” he said. “We need to decide that violence and platforms are not the only way. Now, if the character doesn’t hold a gun, designers don’t even know what to do.”

Cage described a pitch meeting he had for Indigo Prophecy in which he had to explain to the publisher that the protagonist didn’t use weapons. “Oh, he drives cars?” the publisher asked. Once Cage explained that he didn’t shoot, drive, or jump from platform to platform, the publisher said, “Then it’s not a game!”

Cage concluded by implying that we should stop calling games games. “In the coming years, my hope is that we see the rise of ‘digital entertainment,’” he said. “It should be accessible to all, open to all themes and all genres, and talk about society in a meaningful way. It should be based on the journey and not the challenge, and be cross-platform [...] and finally become mass market. I think it’s an amazing medium unlike anything else, and what we have here is absolutely different and unique, but I think we need to accept this idea of growing up and finally become adults.”

What do you think?

via The Verge

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

12 Comments on David Cage Wants Us to Grow Up


On February 8, 2013 at 11:00 am

I think he’s lost in his own world. The rest of us are already in a world that does most of what he’s suggesting.

Games are games. If you’re actively participating, then it’s a game. If you’re not, it’s a movie. Even the Wii social experiment where you voted on questions every day.. that was still a game, since you compared yourself to the rest of the players doing it.

Words For Friends is clearly a game. It reaches everyone. Oh, except those that don’t like or have time for games. That won’t change.

He says it should be “based on the journey and not the challenge.” I say, “Farmville.” No challenge.. just simulated life on a farm. Sort of. Is that what he’s pushing?

People want to be entertained in any number of ways. Some like twitch games, some like puzzles. Some are into pretty graphics, some into story. But, in the end, everyone has a goal when they play. That goal might be beating other people, the computer AI, or a situation, but it’s always something that has to be overcome.


On February 8, 2013 at 11:37 am

Will be interesting what kind of new content he has in mind to encourage publishers and developers to adopt the Digital Entertainment medium, and how it will be marketed for a mass market. Interesting idea, even Heavy Rain didn’t fully realize this new medium. It will be interesting if anyone truly answers the call to make a fully interactive and fully immersive entertainment experience like Cage was describing.


On February 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Sounds like he’s describing the end of society. In a progressively lazy generation, if you give them something that interactive, why interact with the outside world at all?


On February 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Over the past few weeks Gamefront has published a few articles that report on some of Mr Cage’s controversial opinions. Not knowing what he looks like, I can honestly say that I picture Mr Cage as a “college know-it-all” hippie from the likes of South Park. He seems incredibly pompous and self-centered, less-than subtly suggesting that a game he doesn’t approve of is somehow childish and immature.

The future of gaming is not based on Mr Cage’s personal vision. A larger segment of the population may come to appreciate and enjoy his version of “digital entertainment,” but many of us will go in a different direction.

Nice Juan

On February 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm

For anyone that hasn’t had the ‘pleasure’ of playing Heavy Rain, know this – it is one of the single most juvenile, artificial, prescriptive, meaningless games ever created. If you don’t believe me, and haven’t experienced the game for yourself, have a look at how it was promoted by the press and compare it to how the story pans out. You’d think they were talking about a completely different game. There’s no maturity, no originality, no scope, no continuity and no character development in Heavy Rain. It’s pulp fiction at its worst, in the same way as the film ‘Crash’ except with worse acting and direction – a story that tries its best to simply guilt-trip the audience into liking it instead of actually providing a coherent or engaging narrative.

David Cage is literally the last person who has any authority on what it means to be mature in videogames.


On February 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I completely agree. We can do so much with games and this medium, why restrict ourselves? Not all of these ideas will produce the cash cows companies like EA fawn over, but there is nothing wrong with having a loyal cult following. We need to get away from putting on the blinders and start seeing just how far we can take this thing.


On February 8, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Hear hear. I’ve been waiting for people to do exactly what Cage is saying for years. Hope everyone listens. P.S.- I of course know about Sim City etc, I just don’t like the offerings in the Not Killing People genre that have been made so far. The lack of interest in Not Killing People games has meant I haven’t had many options in the first place….


On February 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm

I can understand where he is coming from and I simpathise with his frustration at being told by some ideodic publisher that if something does not involve shooting, or driving its not a game. However it seems to me that once again hes putting the blame on the consumer. Its not our fault that publishers are not willing to take risks on new ideas. I think that gamers are more then ready to ‘grow up’ were just waiting for the publishers to realize that there there is a whole other market outside the prepubescent teenage boys. that’s not to say there isn’t room for more classic tittles.

I also find it vary ironic that hes talking about about growing up yet that games he works on tend to be quite juvenile themselves, at there core Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain were nothing more then adventure games, and HR’s story was an over rated pretentious mess.

Seems to my that Cage is saying these things just for attention….


On February 9, 2013 at 12:06 am

I agree that more can be done with games. I would prefer games with multiple options. Players should have choices as to what they do with their characters. I do agree that many developers, and gamers, tend to maintain a one-dimensional thought process about games. Games should encompass as many styles of play as humanly possible. The core mechanics of a game should not revolve around combat only. Games should be open-ended, offer as much choice as humanly possible, and allow players to choose how they approach each task. There should not be instances where a player if forced to take a specific action just out of some design mandate of the developers.

About calling games “Digital Entertainment.” I think that’s an attempt at using unnecessary euphemisms to call a game a game. The truth is, gaming is a growing industry. The point is changing the name of something doesn’t matter if it’s still the same thing at it’s very core. Call it Digital Entertainment if you want, but the truth is they are still games. What Cage seems to be thinking here is a matter of perception. He’s trying to change nongamers’ perceptions about gaming to try to draw them in. The truth is games are games. Using a marketing ploy to try to change perception is just going to insult people.


On February 9, 2013 at 4:04 am

Although I respect David Cage and what he does, I’m feeling a bit irritated by this article. So he took adventures, put some QTEs here and there and now all of a sudden he’s the messiah of video games and the industry knows nothing and has to grow up? Interactive movies are known for almost 50 years now. There’s no revelation or revolution in making them and certainly it doesn’t mean “growing up”.

“How do we make content that will talk to your mother or grandmother?” he asked. “How do we make them play? Can we make content, interactive experiences, for an adult?” – Sure. It’s called Quests/Adventure games and my mother loves them already, thanks.

And I love how he described his meeting with that publisher about Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy. It’s like all of a sudden publishers forgot that there are other genres besides FPS, Action and platformers. Come on, really?

I think that instead of trying to “reinvent a bicycle” he should continue making games. Or better even – go make movies.


On February 9, 2013 at 7:54 am

I think what he’s trying to get at is a cross-genre, multifaceted type of game that doesn’t focus just on the stereotypical stuff that games are often known for. That’s not really the customer’s fault though. The developers should be willing to put options into the games to start with rather than assume that all gamers are going to take the most direct approach to each situation.


On February 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I’d like to point out a few things.

1: I couldn’t get through more than an hour of Indigo Prophesy before getting so annoyed at all the pointless crap that I’m sure is meant to be immersive destroyed the pacing and made me go play something more interesting.

2: I didn’t play through the Mass Effect games for the shooting, I played through them for the story and the characters.

3: It irritates the crap out of me when some condescending jackass starts telling me or anyone else how to live their life or create their art for the sake of perception.

4: If you want to make my Mother play video games make them like romantic comedies from the 1930s.