Microsoft’s Don Mattrick Stands Silent As George Lucas and Steven Spielberg Diss Video Games but Praise Kinect

During a panel at at the USC School of Cinematic Arts legendary filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas discussed the future of the entertainment industry while joined by Microsoft’s President of the Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick and Julia Boorstin of CNBC acting as a moderator, as reported by Variety, The Verge and quite a few other media outlets.

Besides predicting the implosion of the film industry with apocalyptic scenarios and a sizable dose of doomsaying, Lucas and Speelberg set their bespectacled sights on video games, and started firing.

Spielberg said that so far video games have not been able to create the same empathy with characters that other narrative forms have, specifying that gamers might empathize with a character during cutscenes but…

The second you get the controller something turns off in the heart, and it becomes a sport.

BMmWamgCYAE49v0Picture by David Swofford

Lucas was quick to add that the gaming industry can and will probably achieve that kind empathetic characters, but it hasn’t so far because the effort has been thwarted by hard-core gamers who enjoy onscreen violence too much.

He continued by describing his vision of the “next big game” and of its target.

The big game of the next five years will be a game where you empathize very strongly with the characters and it’s aimed at women and girls. They like empathetic games. That will be a huge hit and as a result that will be the “Titanic” of the game industry, where suddenly you’ve done an actual love story or something and everybody will be like ‘where did that come from?’ Because you’ve got actual relationships instead of shooting people.

Spielberg reinforced the thought by saying that the real shift will come when game controllers will become obsolete and games will be controlled by Kinect-like devices that completely immerse the player in the story.

I believe we need to get rid of the proscenium. We’re never going to be totally immersive as long as we’re looking at a square, whether it’s a movie screen or whether it’s a computer screen. We’ve got to get rid of that and we’ve got to put the player inside the experience, where no matter where you look you’re surrounded by a three-dimensional experience. That’s the future.

Considering that Don Mattrick is at the helm of the push for one of the two next generation gaming platforms, you’d think he’d have spent a word in defense of video games when faced with this kind of all-out attack. Well, he didn’t. He sat there content of throwing in a few Xbox references, letting the two filmmakers tear video games apart uncontested.

After all, they described Kinect as the future, and Spielberg is going to direct a TV series based on the Halo franchise.

While I’m all for emotionally engaging stories and characters in video games (and I’m not a woman or a girl), Spielberg and Lucas might want to broaden their gaming horizons, because many of those stories already exist. Maybe they should try playing The Last of Usbut of course you can’t expect Don Mattrick to mention that, can you?

Join the Discussion

  • Isaac King

    It is called prosthesis. To a gamer, the controller and screen are extensions of their body, allowing them to interact in virtual worlds much more concretely than the disembodied mediation of the camera lens. With the controller, we are already on the other side of the camera. However, I do agree that the fact that 90% of these experiences are based around violence does not present gaming in the best light. Still, a 3d love story game for women that uses Kinect sounds like about the strangest video game proposal I have ever heard. I doubt “Titanic” sounded that crazy to the movie studios.

  • goobam

    How can they play the Last of Us when it isn’t even out yet? I’m sure if they KNEW about it they could get their hands on it by pulling a few strings but I can’t blame them for not being aware of something that hasn’t been released in an entirely different industry than their own.

    • ChadAwkerman

      The Last of Us is far from the only emotionally engaging story out there. Also, the story and characters in it are better than in any movie those two have made. (Cue hate mail from angry Star Wars fans.)

      • tterby1

        No i agree and im a star wars fan

  • J A H

    I’d like to know how many combined hours Speilberg and Lucas have playing video games; heck, throw in Mattrick’s time as well. Compared to the casual gamer.. I’m betting it will be on the low side. No denying that Speilberg and Lucas are great story tellers, BUT video games are MORE than just stories. They are to be PLAYED. If I want to go see a great story, I’ll go watch a movie. If I want to experience a world all around me, I’ll simply walk outside. Stick with what you know, boys, because you don’t know jakk when it comes to video games.

  • joed1rt

    Spielberg is right. I’m a ‘hardcore’ gamer but I don’t think video games come close to movies in getting us emotionally attached to a character. 90% of games ARE focused on violence. Not sure he is right about the Kinects future but who knows. I think we need to stop trying to argue that games are ‘art’. And these gamers that say they cried during a games scene….please. It’s embarrassing. Just play games and enjoy them. Don’t pretend they are something they are not.

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      Only, they are. I’m not embarrassed to admit that quite a few games made me cry as much or more than movies.

      If you’re embarrassed the problem is on your side, not mind 😀

      Not only many of today’s games do come close (and overtake) movies in term of emotional engagement but many (indie ones for instance) do so with a mere fraction of a b-league movie’s budget.

      • joed1rt

        Not embarrassed? Ok, next time you take a fine lady out for the evening, tell her the story about how you cried playing a video game. Let me know how that goes :-). I’m just buggin—- to each their own. I have been playing games for 30+ years and have yet to experience that. If it affects you that way, great. You are obviously getting more out of the game than I am…which is a good thing i think.

        • Giuseppe Nelva

          As a matter of fact, I believe I told quite a few ladies. They weren’t really turned off by the idea 😀

          Many ladies do like sensitive guys 😀

          • joed1rt

            LOL. I guess it’s all moot anyway. The writing is on the wall for the next big video game industry crash like we saw in the 80’s. With games running $100-200 million dollar budgets and the new consoles not really offering close to the jump we saw from the last generation to this one, the days of these AAA titles are numbered IMHO,

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            VERY unlikely. The situation is entirely different. I saw a video somewhere predicting that and honestly I coouldn’t help but laughing the whole time.

            In the 80 the industry crashed because of a flood of absolutely unsightly game, made by people that knew absolutely nothing about games. The situation now is not even comparable.

    • brianc6234

      Dump your 360 and play Sony games. They’re the ones making games that are more like movies. About the only thing Microsoft seems to care about is shooters.


      John Marston death in Red Dead Redemption was manly but very emotional. And I nearly cried my little eyes out when I completed Dark Souls.

      We have been spoon fed emotion in movies our life but video-gaming is putting control into the hands of the holder! People need to think for themselves, if anyone ever tells you anything regarding these things its always biased, why should video games be compared to movies anyway, they don’t need to be amalgamated!

  • kevin1d

    I can’t agree after playing the last of us the first game to actually make my eyes water while controlling the character I actually had to pause the game

  • Kevp

    It seems Spielberg and Lucas have only seen shooters or Call of Duty, Halo and are basing their thoughts on gaming as a whole on that. Personally, I’ve had more emotional experiences on video games and have developed emotional attachments to video game characters compared to movies. Although what Spielberg said about the difference between watching a cutscene in a game and controlling the character with a controller is in a way true although it differs greatly between different genres.

  • Sir Realist

    Weird panel. Don should have spoken up, but maybe was wise not to…

    • brianc6234

      He probably didn’t speak up because he agrees with them.

  • etobare

    It seems nobody there played Journey

  • Gannett Swan

    Unless they’re planning on making the PS4 and XBox One turing compatible, I can’t see there being a truly enthralling game experience the way they describe it anytime soon.

  • al client

    I’m glad these guys aren’t making my games.

  • Sl4n9

    “Because you’ve got actual relationships instead of shooting people.” I have a relationship in real life, I game because I, and just about every other person who plays games, actually enjoy shooting a zombie until his head explodes or tossing a grenade right into a group of unsuspecting baddies.

    Stick to movies you guys….leave the games to people who have been doing it for much longer than you have.

  • Lance DiBitetto

    Spielberg and Lucas are the old guard, they might have been innovative and interesting in their time but, their time has long passed. For example, look at J.J. Abrams and his opinion on gaming and stories. in a lot of ways you could consider J.J. Abrams the successor to Spielberg and Lucas style of movie making with more edge.

    • Sak Hus

      Agreed. Born in 70s I grew up in 80s with the atari, commodore 64, and video games like pacman, galaga and 100s more in arcades which these guys missed during their growing up stage. Most of the young generation during our era having access to these innovative entertainment technology grew up to love video games and even now being in our late 30s/early 40s these people would do anything to get their hands on latest and greatest technology to help them play video games.

      Sadly these 2 old school guys embraced the technology too late and it doesn’t give them the same high we get when we plonk in the latest video games in our consoles or PCs. Had their interest been in video games as much as movie making they would be bringing in greatest games like they did with their movies.

  • Walter

    Another lame Anti-MS article. What George and Steven have said has already been said. If you just hearing this now then I feel sorry for you.

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      So since it has allegedly “already been said”, we should sweep it nicely under the rug and not report about it?

      How very convenient 😀

  • brianc6234

    They should stop play Xbox games and look at the masterpieces Sony is making. Now there’s some games that are as good as some classic movies. And Kinect is garbage. What a joke that part is.

  • Oni123

    “The big game of the next five years will be a game where you empathize
    very strongly with the characters and it’s aimed at women and girls.
    They like empathetic games” Kinda sexist =O

  • silverscorpio

    George and Steven should play the Mass Effect Trilogy. There is a ton of emotion and the type of story that they help created. They should not complain now.

  • Simmons

    The fact they said kinect is the future says it all, it is nothing more than a gimmick aimed at upper-middle class families with a huge living room. The hardcore bedroom gamers in my opinion are severely passionate about their favourite characters, master chief, commander shepherd and even clementine from TWD episodes to name a few!

  • Solid Snake

    Well if spewberg & these other jokers wanna make those kind of games then they can knock themselves out but as far as physical controller becoming irrelevant not anytime soon until they can figure out a safe,afordable & effective way to produce native virtual reality that stimulates all human senses in a virtual space without breaking immersion.

    Cheers Gamers & Happy Gaming!

  • Kromas

    Someone please give them each a copy of Mass Effect Trilogy. And afterwards execute them for the last 3 Star Wars movies, Indiana Jones 4 and possibly the new Jurassic Park.