Sorry Jaffe, We Say Games Are A Legitimate Story Medium
We love David Jaffe. The guy has never ceased to speak his mind, and he has delivered memorable experiences for many years.
But we have to disagree with the iconic designer when he says those who want to tell a great story should consider other entertainment mediums. It's just not progressive thinking in our eyes.
In speaking at the 2011 D.I.C.E. Summit (and as cited at GamesIndustry.biz), Jaffe first said industry executives need to adopt a "bullsh** filter" if they don't want to waste money on "over-promised projects." And for this part, we imagine he makes a great point:
"But you can't see the game in your head, you can see the trailer to a movie that doesn't actually exist. You better start learning gameplay language. It's not to be mean spirited, I would never do that, but you can actually sit with developer and say 'it's cool that you want to do that but tell me how.' If you come in with an awareness of that, if you're an executive that can suss that out, that's great. You don't want to have a developer romance you with the promise of something more than it will ever be and it ends up not being that."
But then Jaffe addressed the fascination some developers have with storytelling, in that they want to use games to convey a wider range of emotions, or tackle compelling, real-world issues. He says they should try a more relevant medium:
"A lot of these people will say 'I have something to say, I have a story to tell.' If you've really got something inside of you that's so powerful, like a story you've got to share or a philosophy about mans place in the universe, why in the fu** would you choose the medium that has historically, continually been the worst medium to express philosophy, story and narrative?
Why wouldn't you write a book, why wouldn't you make a movie? It's like being one of the world's best chefs and working in the world's best restaurants, you ply your trade in McDonalds."
We certainly understand his point, but...I mean, wait a minute, Dave. Just because we haven't been able to do something yet means we should stop trying? It means it can't ever work? Video games are merely interactive entertainment and it isn't impossible to tell a fantastic story in this realm; it just requires more innovation. With passive forms of entertainment, like reading a book, the player can't change anything written and in games, he potentially could. That's the biggest stumbling block in our eyes.
But to say games are incapable and developers who want to tell unbelievable stories should stop trying? We're not down with that.
2/9/2012 9:15:31 PM Ben Dutka