By now, you may have started to suspect that I am not a fan of Heavy Rain. It’s not that is wasn’t a fun game, because certain moments were fun, but from a writing and design perspective, it may have been the worst thing I have ever seen. Call it creative differences, but the game doesn’t make any sense, and I do have a problem with any game that practically brags about being a long movie rather than interactive fiction that rewards genuine choice and immersion.
But that isn’t what frustrates me about the game’s mastermind David Cage. What does is that even though I think Heavy Rain was written by him and his team slamming their face into a keyboard over and over again proclaiming their brilliance and geniousity, he does make the occasional good point, like when he says “it’s time for the game industry to grow up.”
I agree, while the indie stage has become the new way to play fun and innovative games, war based FPS seem to be the most popular. The thing is, I don’t think that killing aliens, zombies, and monsters has been fully tapped out yet. I mean ZombiU looks like it really is doing something new with Zombie games, enhancing the experience of a survival horror game and right now a fantasy game without monsters just seems…weird.
But really, this is what struck me:
“”I often think that the industry suffers of the Peter Pan syndrome. It’s the fact that we don’t want to grow up, so we stay kids. But there is a moment where you need to grow up as an industry. And you cannot keep up with the Peter Pan syndrome. You need to grow. And I think this is the right time”
The approach with mainstream games, and even a lot of indie games is that violence instantly equals fun. I’ve recently been kind of struggling around with the idea of a game where you don’t have to be violent. I think some games have done this really well, but in the end, some folks in the industry still treat games as solely a way for players to escape their lives, to live out fantasy instead of talking to the adults like adults and try to convey meaning. Wanna know why I didn’t like Bioshock? Because after hearing how smart and innovative it was, what I basically got was a poor Metroid Prime knock-off, that didn’t so much let me explore the facets of Objectivism, but kind of slapped that word onto zombies and let me run around with a wrench. It told a brilliant story, which is why I finished it, but it wasn’t a game about objectivism or even the follies of the philosophy, it was a zombie killing game that had that story playing in the background, which to me, misses the entire point of it being in game form.
What also frustrates me about Cage is the same thing that makes me angry at Molyneux. Great ideas, no execution. Maybe his other games, but since my only experience and his apparent rise to fame was Heavy Rain, I feel like he is the wrong person to say games need to grow up. The game has pointless nudity (which isn’t as artistic as it is distasteful), a Shyamalan-class plot twist that involved some dialogue cartwheels and not even giving the player a chance to solve the case for themselves, and just general plot holes and future tech that don’t so much treat gamers like adults, but treat them as morons.
I am also of the opinion that “growing up” doesn’t mean staying away from FPS games killing zombies, monsters,and aliens. Being mature and grown up does not mean it has to be boring. You want to talk about the facets of human nature and decency but also want to include lots of zombie killing? Go right ahead. Just be sure to incorporate those themes into the gameplay and not just off to the side where it can be analyzed separately. To be grown up, it means talking about serious things. In games, I’ve already expressed my view on how letting the creators talk about their subject is tricky when applying it to games, because the more you want to sway them into a certain direction the more freedom you take away and less game-like you’re game becomes. But this is something absent from the major gaming developers. Right now, gameplay and story are mostly separate, with some notable exceptions. Part of growing up is learning to take the topics you are passionate about, and applying them to something more real and serious.