Brandon Boyer

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What’s Steven Spielberg know about games? Quite a happy lot, it turns out: Tom Chick has just published a new interview with the filmmaker turned gamemaker for Yahoo, where he waxes on the staying power of his first collaboration with EA, Boom Blox (still a family favorite it turns out), and notes that it was his idea to include the “peanut gallery” of animal observers to cheer the player on (something we’ve touched on here before).

Spielberg then turns his attention to storytelling and says:

You know the thing that doesn’t work for me in these games are the little movies where they attempt to tell a story in between the playable levels. That’s where there hasn’t been a synergy between storytelling and gaming. They go to a lot of trouble to do these [motion-capture] movies that explain the characters. And then the second the game is returned to you and it’s under your control, you forget everything the interstitials are trying to impact you with, and you just go back to shooting things. And that has not found its way into a universal narrative. And I think more has to be done in that arena.

That, as we also pointed to before when Jordan Mechner similarly discussed letting each medium do the job of the medium, is a very salient point and obviously something we very much agree with.

Chick has posted the full unedited exchange via the Quarter to Three forums, my favorite part being the implied ubiquity of games when Spielberg says “of course” he’s played Half-Life.

Steven Spielberg – Celebrity Byte [Yahoo! Games]

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  1. Too bad he wasn’t this insightful about the integration of story and gameplay when his studio was licensing Atari to make a game based on E.T.

  2. Very clever wolf.

    I’m posting just to highlight the fact that a man who has made a very successful career out of communicating things through scripted sequences of moving pictures has said that they are not necessarily the best way to do things in a game.

  3. I think what he’s saying is that people haven’t done a good job at doing it, and he’s right. Even in games where the cutscenes receive favorable reviews, when compared to even a tv movie of the week the writing and voice acting is silly.

    There’s only one game I can think of where cutscenes are of such high quality they truly add to the game: Grim Fandango.

  4. I don’t know. FMVs (aka cutscenes) can be rather cool – Final Fantasy, Parasite Eve, American McGee’s Alice…

    All depends what exactly they are used for, the nature of the story & gameplay… whether or not you can hit a button to bypass them…

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