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Firing Back at Worthless Interviews

posted on May 13th, 2008 by christian

These days there is a lot of junky gaming news. One cause of this is the obsession with giving every member of a development house a chance to sit down and shout out. You don’t have to be an artist, programmer or designer – if you deal with the corporate side, you are just as eligible, and if you make one successful game, you will be held in higher regard than other hard working members of the industry, regardless of your future sales or if your ideas have any merit.

Some fans are getting tired of this situation and are mouthing back. For example, one of the worst recent offenders is BioWare CEO Ray Muzyka. While he has been a name and a presence in the industry for a while now, lately he has been spouting off some of his least insightful “wisdom” yet. For example, he calls the Wii a toy not because it is a gimmick, but because its lack of processing power means that Ray and pals cannot make more gripping stories. And since, according to Ray, games are “defined by narrative,” then playing the Wii isn’t much like gaming.

Commenters on blogs like Kotaku responded unfavorably, citing the obvious fact that this theory would throw out entire generations worth of games with limited or no storylines, and that the concept of games in general has little to do with fixed narratives (though the actions caused by a game can tell stories). The reason for his statement is obvious however; Muzyka’s company makes story heavy games, and if he, the CEO, can convince you that story is the most important part of a game, then he can expect more sales from you.

The next silly idea comes from a new interview where Muzyka feels that the sex scene in Mass Effect helps prove that games are art. He claims that everyone talking about the scene shows it impacted them emotionally. Reading a few of these Kotaku comments shows that some gamers get it – people were mostly talking about the controversy that the mainstream media tried to create around it, not about the “emotions” of the scene. In fact, as some state, the sex scene feels cheap, and isn’t any different than what you would see in the average film. Despite the hoopla, it is nothing special. Games may be art, but this is not proof of it.

In the end, I don’t expect a CEO to have the most insightful comments on the games Bioware makes. But when interviews like these are the increasingly the norm in this age of click-through’s and ad revenue, I am glad to see that some folks are calling bullshit, rather than taking these as serious topics of discussion and further wasting our time.

4 Comments

  1. Neil said on May 13, 2008:

    I completely agree with you, I normally pay the extra money for the limited editions of games only to have 10 different interviews of people telling me about the game I just bought. While I did watch the bonus disks from my Halo 3 Legendary edition, it wasn’t anything that added to the game.
    it’s like having the director’s commentary on a DVD, I don’t know anyone who is that crazy about Bad Boyz 2 to want to listen to everything the director has to say about each individual scene, and yet they include it on almost every movie imaginable.
    Now if they could have developer commentay on something useful, like “if you are lost trying to get out of the Jungle level of Devil May Cry 4, you can try_____”

  2. Stefan said on May 14, 2008:

    Actually, it looks like the claim that the Wii isn’t gaming because it doesn’t provide narratives came from Bioware Presdient Greg Zeschuk, not Muzyka. In the original interview linked to by digitalbattle (http://www.gamedaily.com/articles/features/interview-bioware-on-narrative-wii-gaming-mainstream-press-mmos–more/?biz=1), Muzyka is actually sort of defending the Wii as having narrative. Even more interesting is the snipped where Zeschuk seems to be claiming that multiplayer gameplay is not gaming either:

    “Muzyka: There’s a narrative there, too, between people playing sports. It’s actually a narrative between the people playing it. It’s sort of one level abstracted from the game; it’s like people playing the game and there’s people in the community around the game, but if you’re playing a game and laughing and having fun, instead of the game having those elements, the audience playing the game has the elements between them. I think it’s still part of the game experience.

    Greg Zeschuk: I think another, tangential view on that is those kinds of experiences are much more like a toy experience. They’re playing, together or not, but you’re not ‘gaming’ anymore. What’s different than you actually playing tennis?

    Muzyka: I think a lot of it is multiplayer, though, on that platform.

    Zeschuk: It is, I agree, that’s actually the strongest experience. I’m making the claim that it may not be gaming.”

  3. jay said on May 14, 2008:

    New plan –

    1. Create crocheting game.
    2. Get interviewed.
    3. Claim nothing but crocheting games can be a game.
    4. Profit.

  4. Christian said on May 14, 2008:

    President, CEO. I care for neither of their comments on the Wii.

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