Saturday, November 12, 2005

MGIS: Neil Young keynote

[A week ago I attended the Montreal Game Summit. I'm only getting around now to posting some notes from the sessions, and will do the posts, one-per]
Neil’s keynote was named “Can a Game Make You Cry?”. In it, he talked about the fact that (his assertion) emotional involvement requires believable characters, and believable characters require high quality character technology (i.e. money). Therefore, you need to make stuff that appeals to mainstream audiences (broad-appeal genres, popular licenses) to justify the volume, and “innovation” to make critics salivate. I believe the EA approach is AN approach, but to say it’s the only approach is ludicrous. Two issues I have with his talk:
o I’d argue that what he was claiming was “innovation” was really “controlled innovation on the micro-level”. i.e. one new mechanic or technology in a very proven formula. If you want to claim that’s innovation, well, fine. I think it’s bull. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it’s an absolutely sound business decision to NOT innovate and instead be a “fast follower”, but don’t claim the ‘innovator’ title.
o Waterworld was big-budget. I didn’t empathize with the characters, and it didn’t affect me. Bambi didn’t have believable characters. At no point did I say “I think that’s a REAL DEER!!!”, and yet it moves everyone that sees it. Big budget production can help but is NOT a pre-requisite nor a guarantee of emotional involvement of the player. This was best summed up by what, for me, was the best moment of the conference: The guy holding up his kid's drawing (which I blogged last week).


william said...

Did Neil's presentation (delivery or content) make you cry?

kim said...

No, it made me hurl!

I'm just kidding. It was an OK speech, actually. His delivery was a little too informal for my tastes for a keynote, but other than that it was OK. I just disagreed with some of the content.