David Cage: No one should be allowed to define what a game is

Quantic Dream boss says a game can be "so many different things" today; wants to convince hardcore gamers and newcomers to try Beyond: Two Souls.

No one should be allowed to define what a game is or should be, according to Quantic Dream studio head David Cage. Speaking with GameSpot about Beyond: Two Souls, Cage said he would like to see games break from tradition and tell new stories with new modes of play.

"Some people can be very conservative about this medium and this is sometimes frustrating," Cage said. "Some people wish that games would always stay what they were in the past 30 years, just with more polygons. No one should be allowed to define what a video game is or should be; no one has this power."

"A video game can be so many different things. Angry Birds is a game; Call of Duty is a game; World of Warcraft is a game; Gone Home is a game. Who can decide 'you are a video game', 'you are not a video game', 'you are not a part of this family?' No. Let's open this medium to whoever has different ideas and it's great to see people trying to do games where shooting is not the main thing."

Cage acknowledged that this discussion is "very interesting" in the context of the coming weeks and months when so many topline franchises--including shooters like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4--will be released. Cage described these franchises as "great," but said Beyond: Two Souls is something altogether different.

"Beyond is different. As a game creator, this is what I believe in," Cage said. "And I would like you to try it and hopefully you'll like it. It's a different route and this is definitely the route that I chose in my career."

Cage said Beyond: Two Souls already has a built-in audience from the success of predecessor Heavy Rain, but explained that he would like to convince new groups of people to give the game a try.

"There are people on both ends of the spectrum that we need to convince. One one side we have hardcore gamers who think that games should only be about shooting and about action and killing and competing and adrenaline," Cage said. "And we need to convince these people to give Beyond a try and say 'OK, this is going to be different'. Yeah, it's about a young woman. No she doesn't have a gun. And maybe you will enjoy the experience because it's different, because it's something you haven't played before."

On the other end of this spectrum are people who do not play games at all and may not have a full understanding of what a game can be, Cage said. He said if these people try Beyond: Two Souls they may learn games can be something more than what they thought they could be.

"They think video games are just about violence and that there is nothing there for them or that they are too complex to play or that they are not interested in shooting. And you say no, video games can be something else. Give Beyond a try and see if you enjoy it or not."

Beyond: Two Souls launched today exclusively on PlayStation 3. For more, check out GameSpot's review.

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Discussion

959 comments
dishonored100
dishonored100

Oh come on, Angry Birds is not a video game, it is boring as all you do is fling birds at buildings and the birds look annoying anyway. Infinity Blade  I,II, and III are video games as they have a good story and gameplay. As RAD_RADIO said, there are some definitions for video games/games which seem to work well based on the history of video games. Beyond Two Souls may be a video game as it has a story which is affected by the player's choices like Dishonored (where the player's choices in the game affect the story's outcome at the end of the game), but David Cage should not say nonsense in order to sell a video game. 

RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

Actually Cage we can decide what a game is. Your "Video-game" doesn't hold up to just about any of the definitions of a "game" you can find on the internet, or in literature.

Here are just a few.

Textbook definition "Game - a form of play or sport, esp. a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck."

"A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome." - Eric Zimmerman

"
At its most elementary level then we can define game as an exercise of voluntary control systems in which there is an opposition between forces, confined by a procedure and rules in order to produce a disequilibrial outcome" - Elliot Avedon.

Notice a recurring theme?

Rules - the control, it defines how the outcome is measured. Does Beyond: Two Souls have this? No. Is there a "Disequilibrial outcome"? No, the game ends, no matter the choices taken. Nothing is fought, and nothing is conquered. There is no winner. There is only an end. You cannot lose. Not a game.

Did I say it cannot be enjoyed? No. It most certainly can. Many people have already enjoyed the snot out of it. Apparently a whole crap ton of people. But let's not kid ourselves and call this a Video game, and quite honestly if this is where we want to see the Industry go, than crap all I don't want anything to do with it.

My title I give this work of art: "Dynamic Interactive movie".

josephblower1612
josephblower1612

Your mileage may vary, but for me, the game is transcendent.


It transcends both video games and movies to become something greater than either medium would ever be by themselves. I'm an avid gamer (I have 400+ Steam games, 400+ iOS games, and 100+ console games). Yet--to speak for myself--*I* found this game far more moving, thought-provoking, meaningful, and entertaining than many other games (including Super Mario Galaxy 1-2, Grand Theft Auto 4-5, The Last of Us, and others).


I can only compare it to Heavy Rain, The Walking Dead, or the Metal Gear Solid series: deep rich stories that have themes and messages that convey something of lasting meaning; something beyond the mindless (but fun) shooting and platforming of other titles.


I will remember this game for years to come. There are few works of fiction of any medium for which I can say the same.


If you like a rich deep story line and don't care about a lack of "agency" (it's always illusory in video games, anyway--there are always incredibly restrictive rules on game play), then this is *the* game of the seventh generation. The comparably minor errors in execution and direction can be ignored, when viewed in light of the whole.


Indeed, the question of whether this qualifies as a game is, like Dear Ester, a largely irrelevant and pedantic: It entertains. It provokes thought. It is emotionally moving. And it illustrates that games--like cinema or literature--can be taken seriously as a medium to both entertain and enlighten. 


It seems to me that most reviewers of this game have profoundly and tragically missed the point.


gamer-clemm
gamer-clemm

I played the demo for Beyond, and it was really fun. I hope to get the game soon, I'm sure it'll be great.

starduke
starduke

Cage is just saying that because he didn't make a game, and he knows it. "But, people, it really is a game!"

Sorry, Cage, but a game is a interactive, player directed experience. Beyond Two Souls is not that at all. 

Fursnake
Fursnake

This game is only a couple different things, not "so many different things".

It's good, but not $60 good. I'll get my rental fee's worth out of it, don't you fret Mr. Cage.

se007
se007

If they consider this a game, why are they presenting it on a film festival?

marlobc
marlobc

i am playing it and i love this GAME. Of course it is a game

gamersfan13
gamersfan13

It's a game people, and a good one. Get over it! You don't like it, then tough. There are many different types of games out there. Cage is right. Calling it an interactive movie is fine. But it still doesn't change the fact that it's a game!

ogara0c9
ogara0c9

Cue John Boehner: "This isn't a damn game."

TheCyborgNinja
TheCyborgNinja

Game: an interactive experience used for enjoyment.

Suck it, Cage.

popedoritoxiv
popedoritoxiv

We shouldn't say what a game is... but we do. Games have GAMEPLAY. this is a 10 quick time event. I hate quick time events with an undying hatred. I don't care how go the story is I just couldn't play this "game".

Make a movie give it a good story.

Make a game give it gameplay.

SlowMotionKarma
SlowMotionKarma

The core ideal of this quote is very true. No one should be able to define what a "video game" is. After that, it's just pandering for more people to play his newest "game."

Games shouldn't be about more polygons? Says the guy that glorifies his "tech demos" and has talked more than once about how important higher fidelity graphics are to convey the "emotion" in his games.

Games shouldn't only rely on old mechanics? Says the guy who's three previous games' gameplay are based almost exclusively on QTEs. What's more, other than some UI improvements the core mechanics really haven't evolved at all.

Games shouldn't be about violence and action? Fahrenheit's second half was about fistfights in the vein of the Matrix. Over the top to such an extent that it felt campy, and completely the opposite the tone of the beginning of the game. Heavy Rain's Madison endures a drawn-out pseudo rape scene "dream" that had nothing to do with the game and a forced strip scene that really didn't add anything to the plot. Ethan, the main character went through toned-down Saw-like "trials." Then of course there's Shelby, which I'll spoiler-avoid here. Beyond's Ellen Page is in some kind of military operations, trashes a police station...  *sigh*

I mean, this is the guy that called one of his games a "movie."



ShadowsDemon
ShadowsDemon

I couldn't agree more. No one should be able to define what a game is or isn't. If it's interactive, then by definition, it's a game. End of story.

DinoFarmBlake
DinoFarmBlake

Dude.  Beyond Two Souls is a point and click adventure with a couple new gimmicks and a very high production value.  Oh and also an assortment of stuff from the "check-box game design" grab bag like quicktime events.

At its core, it's an advent calendar.  Open the window, eat the chocolate.  Once the chocolates are emptied, throw the advent calendar in the garbage.  Because it has more "if player does x" scenarios, and takes LONGER to eat the chocolates doesn't mean it's not an advent calendar.  It's the Secret of Monkey Island, with tons more inherent complexity and money.  VERY little system design is actually going on here.

It's precisely BECAUSE we don't have functional theory and useful criteria and definitions for what is a "game," or what is a "puzzle" or what is a "contest" or what is a "toy" or "fantasy simulator."  It's just this slapdash gobbledegook that we've seen a million times.

Production value through the roof?  For sure.  Competent dramatic writing?  I'm sure they hired a lot of talent.  But this is not game design anymore than what Steve Jobs did was "engineering."  We're throwing thematically driven ideas or technological spectacle on top of game designs that have existed for decades, and were sort of created in the folk tradition to begin with.  No expert game designer designed, say, King's Quest, because to this day nobody actually sees game design as a serious discipline.

A coder with some talent said "Wouldn't it be cool if," and then later we got King's Quest, which has some good ideas, some terrible, but because it sold well it was copied.  When you really get down to it, Beyond two souls is King's Quest.

So, you're advocating for more diversity in game design?  I absolutely agree with you.  But BTS sure ain't it.  It's just more of the status quo with a couple gimmicks and some taste.

lindallison
lindallison

Cage's point is so banal its meaningless.

RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

@dishonored100 Angry Birds is actually a game, by the definition of it. I had a point about it, but I think you might have missed it. Dishonored is a video game because you have objectives, and you actually compete against something to win.

EdotheHero
EdotheHero

@RAD_RADIO actually, there are rules in this game. choosing one decision has a consequence, which in turn is reflected in the events that you become a part of in the game. and about losing, let's take the last of us as an example - you can die in any number of ways (lose), but you are immediately transported to the last checkpoint. let's say these 10 seconds of 'die and load screen' did not exist, would you define it as something else other than a game then? in essence, the last of us only has one ending, you can not avoid this ending, it will be there when you finish the game.

also, david cage is not saying that the games industry should only consist of beyond: two souls-type games. he is saying that it can expand, and it should.

RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

@josephblower1612 I'm not sure transcending video games is a good thing in this case. It's gone to the point where there is hardly even a shell of a game there. I'm not sure if you were around or played games like Grim Fandango, or Mist, but those transcended, without ceasing to be what they claimed to be. Games. 

ZombehDino
ZombehDino

@josephblower1612 While I may have said I wasn't fond of Cage's statements, I completely respect your opinion and I see where you're coming from. B:TS does some things excellently, and while I didn't love the game on the whole, I completely understand why it has already gained devoted fans.

zerofrust
zerofrust

@se007 

Are you kidding me? It has every B movie cliches packed in it.It's a technical prowess there is no doubt about it but as far as cinematographic quality goes it's a direct to dvd B movie at best.

RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

@gamersfan13 but... it's really not. Words have meanings, and they are based on our understanding of them. Saying this is a video-'game' is an intellectual lie. It's not necessarily a harmful one, but it's still untruth nonetheless. Just because something is interactive doesn't make it a game. It's an interactive movie, but you can't call it a game because it's an interactive movie. Eating my dinner is more of a game than this movie, because I could potentially choke and die, losing to my dinner. This would be of-course because of the first rule in the game of eating dinner: Breathing in food while chewing will result in loss.

josephblower1612
josephblower1612

@popedoritoxiv See my comment above. Basically, I like hardcore games (e.g. Super Hexagon, Super Meat Boy, etc.). But something like that is ultimately meaningless (more or less)--it lacks lasting value. Something like Beyond is both meaningful and capable of elevating games as an art form.

chitosan87
chitosan87

@popedoritoxiv Damn Right!! It does remind me about RE4 how I died several times just stabbed by Krauser when I started to take a break for watched it. Hahaha ...

SlowMotionKarma
SlowMotionKarma

@ShadowsDemon I like how you say, "no one should be able to DEFINE what a game is..." and then say, "by definition, it's a game." ;P

josephblower1612
josephblower1612

@lindallison Anything but: the most oft-made criticism of Beyond is that it isn't a "game" (essentially). I don't see this as a problem, even if it were true (which I vehemently disagree with).

dishonored100
dishonored100

@RAD_RADIO @dishonored100 I never said that Angry Birds is not a game, I said it is not a video game as it does not hold up to the standard of a video game. It is one annoying game in fact. Real video games like Infinity Blade I, II, and III are not annoying and are quite amazing in fact!

RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

@EdotheHero @RAD_RADIO but your choices in relation to their outcomes are virtually random, I would go as far as to say that 90% of the 'choices' you make have a completely unpredictable outcome, most of mine were undesirable albeit most were laughably inconsequential in the grand scheme of it. I cared about some of the characters, but I didn't feel like I WAS any of the characters. That's really the biggest disconnect. You don't 'become a part of' the events, you just kind of 'do' things and things just kind of happen, you're a spectator, not a player. That's utterly dull, unless you just wanted to watch a movie, in which than it's great! It's an semi-interactive movie.

It's not even the consequence it'self that makes a game, a game. Playing B:TS to some in it'self was consequence, so consequence takes many forms. In the last of us there were obstacles impeding your progress, things that figuratively waved big signs at you saying "you have to beat me to win", whether it was sneaking puzzle, or a horde of popcorn zombies coming at you there was SOMETHING that you had to overcome to finish the game. There is NO competition in B:TS. You can essentially do nothing, and officially achieve your goal, the end. Even the things you can do, by all intents and purposes could be classified as filler, something that most gamers freaking hate (especially reviewers, it seems). So why does any gamer enjoy this drivel as a game? Simple minded idiots? They enjoy when games hold their hands? Easily seduced by forced emotional connection?

I don't know. There were moments when I was just kind of watching things unfold and thought "this is a pretty good movie!" but when I actually tried to play the damn thing, I realized what a dull 'game' it is. It's a freaking interactive movie, poorly disguising it'self as a game. I've played a dozen point and click adventures with more engaging game-play than this.

Look, I don't hate it. I actually don't think the story is that bad. When I reviewed it however, I reviewed it as a 'Video-game', and has a video game it's mediocre at best (5/10). If I were to review it as choose your own adventure film, I'd score it more like an 8-9/10. Actually hell... a choose your own adventure book you can somewhat lose by chance. So even that is more of a game.

starduke
starduke

@gMcR No it isn't. The "game" tells the player Exactly what to do. I know, because while I haven't played it, I have watched other people play it. Every single action the play takes is dictated by the "game", when in a real game, it's the other way around. It works great as a movie, but not as a game.

RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

@chitosan87 @popedoritoxiv wow that's amazing. I just realized, there is more 'video game' in that 45 second cut-scene in RE4 than there is the the entirety of Beyond:two souls. If only the fact that you can actually lose the fight and game over.

deadpeasant
deadpeasant

@SlowMotionKarma @ShadowsDemon Similar to what Cage is doing here. Saying no one has the power to define a game then starts saying what it is and isn't.

Surely definitions are important though. If a word is not defined then what use is the word. Words get defined by society over time and society has already determined the definition of the word game. Cage is trying to re-define it. 


RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

@gMcR @starduke Don't you see? The puzzle is the obstacle. You CANNOT proceed without solving the puzzle. That in it'self IS a game. Rules, consequence, achievement. Playing.

RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

@gMcR @RAD_RADIO @starduke if they had implemented some sort of obstacle impeding your progress, like "overcome me, or you cannot pass (game over)" even with checkpoints, yes that is a game you can 'play'.

starduke
starduke

@gMcR Well, solving puzzels is player directed. If you don't solve it you can't progress. Not like being TOLD to press X at all. 

Yes, being able to lose is essential to a video game. Also, failing to evade the police results in being told what buttons to press to escape. The combat in the game is the biggest example of what I'm talking about. Instead of looking at your opponents and acting based on what they are doing, their attacks and movement, you are looking at Jodie to see what she does, and reacting to her decisions, not making your own. Press X now to view the rest of this comment. 

gMcR
gMcR

@starduke @gMcR How is To the Moon's story more player directed than Beyond? If I remember correctly you click your way through the dialogue and solve the occasional puzzle to progress through the story. Just like in Beyond you do X to progress the story. You are watching a story unfold, and just like in Beyond the player can participate in the story, the difference here being that To the Moon only has one predetermined outcome, which the player has no influence over, while Beyond has several outcomes.

gMcR
gMcR

@RAD_RADIO @gMcR @starduke So if they had implemented a game-over screen you would suddenly consider Beyond a video game? Is that essential for a video game, the ability to win or lose? Like I said before, there are consequences to your actions which may produce different results. For example, failing to evade the police during the train sequence will result in you being arrested, and forces you to play an extra sequence trying to escape. It's a great way of not breaking the narrative when you fail.

starduke
starduke

@gMcR The essence of a video game is a player directed story. Those games have that. The essence of B:TS is a movie, a story that the viewer watches, that tells the viewer when to press buttons, to make the story progress. It's the same as putting a movie on pause, except the movie pauses itself, and expects the viewer to do what it says to make it unpause. Press X now to view the rest of this comment. 


RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

@gMcR @starduke wow... 3 games that I have LOVED and enjoyed.

You see, there's a fundamental difference between cage's "Game" and the 3 you mentioned. That they actually ARE games. Those 3 games actually test your wit and mental aptitude to conquer something, to WIN the game. Beyond: two souls cannot be lost, there for it is "un-winnable", there for it cannot be described as a "Game" as we understand games to be.

All there needed to be was some real consequence to your actions, like losing perhaps, for it to be a game. Not saying Beyond: Two Souls can't be enjoyed, but stop calling it a Video game. Because it's not. It's an interactive dynamic cut-scene.

gMcR
gMcR

@starduke @gMcR Going by your logic, games like Full Throttle, Grim Fandango and To the Moon wouldn't really be games, right?

starduke
starduke

@Studio35 Do you know what "player directed" means? I guess some people like being mind controlled zombies being told exactly what to do. I guess I forgot that. My bad.

Studio35
Studio35

@starduke  

You're an idiot...lmao

Do you know what the word "interactive" means?

gMcR
gMcR

@starduke You have a very narrow definition of what a game is. If you'd actually played the game, or at least the demo, you would know that the game actually IS interactive. The player has control over the characters' movement, dialogue and choices. (Which also may result in several different endings.) I understand that some people dislike the game because they feel that the interaction is somewhat restricted in comparison to other games, this however doesn't stop it from being classified as a video game.

aquedius
aquedius

@starduke Technically that is a game. Kinda like Simon Says.


Not saying it's a good game, though...