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September 17, 2005


Guy Fox

This guy is why the Revolution will succeed.

The quotes should be self-parodying enough: "Focused innovations are the inflection point from going from an 80-rated game to a 90+."

"So how could we broaden the number of people that we touch with our IP?"


This is hilarious stuff...Exactly how I imagine EA being run, I admit my bias. The funny thing is, that last quote is almost exactly the same concept as Iwata ("We have to get the whole family to pick up the controller..."), except just by how it's used--talking about "our IP," etc--you can see that this is a guy selling a plastic disc that contains 'entertainment,' whereas Iwata has a novel vision about entertainment will naturally, spontaneously occur when people play their games.

The proof is in the products: Neil Young practically wants video games to be movies, and is speaking the guillotine-cold language of formula, whereas Iwata is trying to break through and really make them do something new. Can games make you cry? Young seems to be interested in machinations, and can only speak the dull language of passive entertainment. Though he desperately tries to hide it, and even if he truly cares about games as an art form (after reading this, let's say I'm skeptical), he just makes a huge mistake framing video game success in terms of film mechanics.

As for Iwata, he seems to say, why pursue imperfect ways of reproducing a feeling when you can just give a player the tools to actually create it in reality? Get people off of their asses, get them physically invested in the game. The emotion will follow as naturally as one feels excitement at a nibble at the fishing line, the creak of a door in a zombie-infested mansion as you push it open, or the crack of a baseball bat that you're swinging.

This guy's speech sums up pretty well why, whether you like their controller or not, Nintendo 'gets it,' and EA doesn't.


What I find interesting is his opening question: Can a computer game make you cry? Back when EA first arrived on the scene that question was the headline used in most of their print ads (yes, I'm old enough to remember it). I like the fact that EA hasn't stopped asking the question as at times it does seem like they've gotten so big that their roots are long forgotten.

Whether Nintendo "gets it" and EA doesn't is open to debate. Iwata and Nintendo are certainly willing to try new things with both the DS and the Revolution controller, but having a better machine/philosophy doesn't necessarily guarantee you'll come out on top. One only need look at the respective market shares for Windows and Macintosh to see that. EA didn't get to be the size it is by being clueless. EA has taken some risks of their own and brought plenty of newcomers into gaming with titles such as The Sims. Give them some credit for not being completely out of touch.


EA havent brought newcomers into gaming with The Sims, Maxis have, the only thing EA does in house is crank out licensed sports game on a yearly basis, anything good they _publish_ is done by their slightly more creatively independent arms.

maxis IS ea. Bought a long time ago.

Seb Potter

The question that EA are asking about games making you cry, these days feels more like a marketing slogan rather than genuine interest in advancing the form of games.

Sure, some of their studios are doing interesting things with advancing technology, but their approach to innovation is pure formula. EA is looking at Hollywood with jealousy and that's reflected in their approach to games.


What's with the bloody facination with making people cry? I've never cried when looking at the Mona Lisa, looking at Rodin's Thinker, watching Hamlet, or watching Star Wars (a lot of people's favorite movie of all time). If people cry when playing a game, what have we achieved exactly? Most of IMDB's top movies of all time don't make people cry -- I suspect that the movies that make people cry are more sappy than artsy. So what is our goal here? To make sappy games?

The whole issue of making players cry is usually about how, supposedly, games don't make players feel emotions. That's ridiculous: players feel the joy of victory, the sorrow of defeat, the thrill of the hunt, the excitement of the race driver and the frustration of the defeated football player. Games make players feel a lot of emotions, they just aren't the same emotions movies make you feel. Let's stop worrying about copying the types of emotions movies create and let's focus on the types of emotions games are great at.

Guy Fox

"One only need look at the respective market shares for Windows and Macintosh to see that."

Not my argument. Market size is an 'is,' my argument was about rival conceptions of 'ought.'

Is/ought distinction, Philosophy 101: An 'is' or pure combinations of 'is' statements cannot logically lead directly to an 'ought.'

EA is an empire because of Madden, because of their license stable, and because of their yearly, clockwork-like release schedule. They make games for people who want to know exactly what they are getting before they even read a review.

EA's entire 'design philosophy' has always appeared outwardly like exactly what this guy has said, and that's just depressing. Why? Because it's just a succession of "is"...There is no "ought," and even when he tries to define it, it is really just a cynical-sounding calculus of how to best maximize market share.

EA doesn't have a design philosophy insofar as one must contain real, thoughtful 'ought' statements, they just have a business plan.


'Oughts' are nice, but they don't pay the bills unless you can turn them into an 'is.' That's the point I was trying to make that you seem to have missed. The Revolution and its controller can be the best things since sliced bread, but if no one wants to play the games then the 'oughts' they represent won't make a damned bit of difference in how well the system sells regardless of how good Nintendo's design philosophy happens to be.

There's no good reason why the Gamecube shouldn't have been a bigger success than it has been. It was cheaper, arguably as or more powerful than the PS2 and Xbox. Had a large number of popular first party titles and managed to steal Resident Evil from the Playstation, which was on of the series that helped make the PS1 king of the hill. So, what happened? Too many 'oughts' and not enough 'is' it would seem.


Pfft, 21 Grams 'interactive narrative'? Tosh. It was melodramatic nonsense (with some good performances, granted) which tried to make itself 'interesting' by fragmenting the narrative haphazardly, with the result that by 2/3rds of the film you knew the entire story and just had to wait for some holes to be filled in which was really very dull. Or maybe that was just me.


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