Heavy Rain’s Creator Hates On Space Marines
So Heavy Rain cleaned up at the BAFTAs recently. That isn’t too surprising considering the amount of attention and acclaim – deserved or not – that it recieved. The financial and critical success of the inscrutable and (somewhat) innovative thriller that culminated in 3 BAFTAs naturally means that the game‘s creators are now People To Whom We Might Want To Listen regarding video game related stuff1. So what do they have to say about Stuff and Things related to the gaming industry?
As it turns out, they’re as tired of the same old, same old as you’d think we’d all be. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Heavy Rain creator David Cage didn’t keep his thoughts to himself regarding the current state of things. Among his comments:
“games always explore the same things. They’re about being powerful, being the good guys against the bad guys – that’s a very tiny part of what can be done. There are so many other stories to tell, so many other emotions to trigger – this is a fantastic new medium, we can do much more than we currently do with it.”
“Developers are fed up – they want to talk about their families, politics, whatever – why not in a game? Why not?! There is no reason.”
“Talk about yourself, your life, your emotions, the people around you, what you like, what you hate – this is how the industry will make a huge step forwards. I’m fed up with space marines.”
There’s more, and the whole article is worth a read. Talking about his comments, they’re certainly expected – hell, I’m fed up with Space Marines games too – but they sell a lot of copies. Sure, Heavy Rain did too; an impressive 2 million units since its release. That’s not bad at all for a game that largely jettisons traditional gameplay and story (not to mention makes you actually shave and go to the bathroom).
But Halo: Reach sold that many copies in its first 3 weeks. In movie terminology, Heavy Rain is a sleeper hit, but Halo a tentpole franchise. The guaranteed success of a game like Halo: Reach means more money to go around to other company development. Well, probably. There’s something else too – while I definitely think Video Games can, and should be pushing the very limits of what it means to tell a story in the medium, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making something purely for the lols.
Having good taste doesn’t mean you have to have monolithic taste. Being able to tell a good piece of media from bad also means being able to tell the difference between pure entertainment that sucks, and pure entertainment that doesn’t. Or more simply put, not every movie I see needs to be Memento, since I also want to watch The Fast and Furious too; and not every game I play needs to be Heavy Rain, since I also love Bust-A-Move.
Heavy Rain is definitely a hit, but it remains to be seen if it was the novelty, or the challenge that made it such. I certainly think (and hope) they have more up their sleeves. But in the meantime, giving the people what they want isn’t the worst thing in the world. So long as it doesn’t, much like Hollywood is now, become the only possible motivator.
1) Sorry, Phil. I know that has to feel like poison to your ears.