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.
Picture 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 Us, but of course you can’t expect Don Mattrick to mention that, can you?