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Schafer: Games need to deal with new subjects

Schafer: Games need to deal with new subjects

If games want to be taken seriously then they need to deal with more than just violence and action, says Tim Schafer.

Tim Schafer, the designer behind Grim Fandango and Brutal Legend, has said that if developers want games to be taken as seriously as other formats like film and TV then they need to look at broaching new subject matter in their games.

Speaking with GI.biz, Schafer acknowledged that games are slowly getting out of the usual sci-fi and fantasy subjects, but says that the medium has a long way to go if developers want to attract the same attention and recognition as other formats.

"I think it's a subject matter barrier. Not everybody wants to get into these super violent worlds and yet here I am making a game about broad axes and decapitation," he said. "But I think humour would get more people into games."

"It's getting better, it used to be that the games industry had a short list of inspirations. You had Tolkien-esque fantasy, Star Wars, and then new things get added. I think GTA brought a whole new level of inspiration. And I think the broader that gets, the more people will be interested in games," he continued.

"If you look at movies, they deal with everything about life. They deal with all aspects of life: romance, comedy, serious dramas. And games are mostly limited to the summer action blockbuster. They haven't really gone outside of that. But I think they will, and hopefully they will soon, or else people will be solidified in their view of games. Their expectations are set."

Personally, we agree - it's the games that push the envelope and try to broach new, intelligent themes or settings that usually succeed in capturing our imagination. Schafer's own Grim Fandango is a fantastic example.

Are we alone in wanting to see more games about romance and life-issues? Let us know in the forums and check out our latest preview of Schafer's latest game, Brutal Legend for more info.

9 Comments

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NethLyn 18th June 2009, 14:55 Quote
The problem with romance and comedy is you have people playing those out for themselves in games like The Sims and MMOs like Second Life all the time. It would take a comedic genius to keep a videogame funny if it relies on repetition of phrases, though sight-gags and physical humour never get old.
yakyb 18th June 2009, 17:14 Quote
romance was played excellently in both FF7 and FF8 really added to the story i cant think of anything since with that much passion (for want of a better word) involved
amacieli 18th June 2009, 18:35 Quote
comedy? mystery? suspense? intrigue? puzzles? sounds like monkey island to me. btw, if you need anyone to be the reviewer... :)
metarinka 18th June 2009, 19:52 Quote
comedy doesn't translate well to games because the jokes get very repetitive after being played thru once. That being said Portal was hilarious.

I'm waiting for some more very dark games like max payne, that really set itself apart from many other fps' by having a plot that was pretty riveting in my opinion.
Elton 18th June 2009, 20:36 Quote
Manhunt was interesting, although it was admittedly a bit too much.

It is hard to tie in comedy unless the jokes are sublte or pretty genius, I mean most of humor today is just....not funny, imagine a game with our humor today..

Well American Humor at least(looks at DAne COok)..
nukeman8 18th June 2009, 21:16 Quote
I agree portal was the most i laughed at a game but i had loads of laughs on games but when playing multiplayer
so you could say games include comedy that way round, the laughs you get from playing with mates.
dylAndroid 19th June 2009, 02:13 Quote
Romance is a huge motivator for people, and it shows up way more in other genres than in video games. Romance also works to make a lot of other character motivations and actions much stronger, more complex, etc., so I think there's a huge missed opportunity going on here.

I'd also like to see some games set in a properly done cyberpunk setting.
Diosjenin 19th June 2009, 05:01 Quote
I definitely agree with Schafer on this one. I highly, highly recommend everyone read A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster - it's basically an analysis of games as a medium and what they need to do to become more than a second-rate art form. It agrees with and expounds upon everything Schafer says here. Wonderful read.

Oh, and before I forget...
Quote:
Originally Posted by metarinka
comedy doesn't translate well to games because the jokes get very repetitive after being played thru once.

An Incomplete List of Comedy Movies that Never Get Old (And An Example of an Ageless Line from Each):
- Airplane! ("I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue!")
- Blazing Saddles ("Somebody's gotta go back and get a s***load of dimes!")
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off ("[Your car] is a piece of s***. Don't worry about it, I don't even have a piece of s***, I have to envy yours.")
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail ("Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government.")
- The Blues Brothers ("I hate Illinois Nazis.")


- Diosjenin -
Chocobollz 19th June 2009, 08:07 Quote
I don't care about the other genre, I want more Sexy Beach type games please! :D
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