Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Chris Crawford

Chris Crawford did an interview over at Gamasutra and, as always, he was thoughtful and provocative. Here are the first three questions they asked him, with his answers:
Gamasutra: You've been quoted as saying that video games are dead. Do you still feel that’s true?

Chris Crawford: What I meant by that was that the creative life has gone out of the industry. And an industry that has no creative spark to it is just marking time to die.

GS: How do you feel that the creative spark has gone out of the industry?

CC: Well basically, new ideas don't go anywhere. So the industry is just rehashing the same stuff over and over. During the 80s there was a lot of experimentation, a lot of new ideas being tried (many of them really bad) but there was at least experimentation. Now we don't see any experimentation whatsoever.

GS: When you say new ideas don't go anywhere, what kind of new ideas do you mean? Have you seen any that maybe popped up and fell flat?

CC: I haven't even seen any new ideas pop up. The industry is so completely inbred that the people working in it aren’t even capable of coming up with new ideas anymore. I was appalled, for example, at the recent GDC. I looked over the games at the Independent Games Festival and they all looked completely derivative to me. Just copies of the same ideas being recycled. I didn't see anything I’d call innovative, and this was from people not even interested in doing anything…in making money. It was just straight amateurs trying to be innovative and even they couldn't be innovative.

Gee, Chris, aren't you being kind of a dick for a guy who hasn't shipped a game in FIFTEEN FREAKING YEARS?

Chris Crawford is a genius, and the most boring thing he's ever said is more provocative than the most interesting thing I've ever said. But if you haven't shipped a game in fifteen years, what you have to say about people who do ship games is irrelevant. He's turning into the gaming equivalent of Harper Lee, who spent thirty years writing a thousand pages of a second book after To Kill a Mockingbird and still hasn't finished.

She may even be dead now. When you get into your forties, you start forgetting who's alive and who's dead. I can't do anything about that.

I enjoy reading interviews with Crawford, because they're always interesting. But Chris has entered the rarified atmosphere of a gaming philosopher, and I can't play philosophy. The importance of what developers have to say about gaming has a half-life that directly corresponds to how long it's been since they shipped something that we wanted to play.

Chris, please, we're begging you: stop giving thoughtful interviews and ship a damn game.

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