While at PAX, I got to see the keynote by Warren Spector. Spector is a pretty awesome guy. First of all, he’s a Disney Geek, and since I’m also a Disney Geek, that’s pretty freaking awesome. He’s also an everything else geek. He gave us his brief life story and it included comics, and science fiction, and DnD. Look, I even made a Venn Diagram to explain him. Not surprisingly, my husband and I pretty much fall in the center too! Oh, and yes, that’s a hidden Mickey in the Venn Diagram, or an obvious Mickey. Still cool.
Games are about interactive story telling. I think this is important, that you are able to play games where you get to make decisions that change the outcome of the game. When all you do is follow a predetermined path, games aren’t as fun. Even little decisions are great, but being able to decide whether your player character is good or bad and how they interact with the world is one of the best concepts in video gaming today. Also, I think this applies to some tabletop games as well, especially DnD. Spector said that DnD is best when sometimes you forget about the rules and the stats and just try to do what your character would do. That’s my favorite kind of DnD!
Spector said that game designers should be given more freedom to be creative. We focus so much on the franchises that sell, that we forget that most video games (I don’t remember the stat, but it was a lot) don’t turn a profit. Therefore, how much worse can things be that creative forces should be constrained. Let the designers make the games they want! I’m sure we’ll appreciate that in the end.
Finally, Spector made the controversial point that casual gaming is not only picking up many, many more members, but that in a world where the government is trying to control what games we can and can’t buy, having more members, even casual ones, might be really important. I know that many hard core gamers are worried about the casual market diluting their game choices, but really, I think that if the industry grows, it will grow in all directions. The great hard core games will still be there, and other games will exist to bring in many different people. Also, these games can act as a gateway. You take your friends that play facebook games, and then show them the next level up (Farmville to Animal Crossing perhaps) and so on. Gaming can’t be an elite, exclusive group and survive. Therefore, if we want the art of games, we also need the games geared toward everyone else. I saw this in action as Gardella, a clear casual gamer, came to PAX and really got excited by games like Epic Mickey and Scibblenauts. Exlcusion helps no one!
Okay, that’s my recap and two cents on Warren Spector’s keynote, which was fabulous. I’d love to have lunch with him and discuss storytelling and gaming. Ah, a Geek’s dream.