Quantic Dream co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumiere met with prolific Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio in 2004 to discuss whether or not the Titanic star would partner with the French studio for his first game. Ultimately, he declined over concerns of image and doubts that technology at the time could faithfully replicate his actions.
In the time since, Quantic Dream released Heavy Rain, a game that de Fondaumiere described during a New York City event on Saturday as a "tipping point" for Hollywood. He said this game has changed actors' mindsets about games from "Oh, it's kind of interesting. Yeah, I'd be tempted" To "Yeah, I want to be part of it."
"This is really a game that had an impact in Hollywood," de Fondaumiere said. "People are talking about [Heavy Rain] on good terms and saying 'this is a possible avenue now for talents to express themselves.'"
De Fondaumiere wouldn't say if he's held any additional meetings with DiCaprio since 2004, but explained that the stigmas attached to games--"they're addicting," "they lead to violence"--have been "exaggerated" and are generally not accepted by consumers at large.
"I think that things have evolved. I think people understand that some of the criticism that has been on gaming; the stigma that has been on gaming…has been exaggerated," de Fondaumiere said.
Still, he explained that games must go further and show the entertainment industry that games can convey messages with meaning.
He believes an example is Beyond: Two Souls, which features not only the voices, but also body movements, of actors like Ellen Page (Inception, Juno, Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, The Boondock Saints), Kadeem Hardison (A Different World), and Eric Winter (Days of Our Lives, The Mentalist), among others.
"There needs also to be projects, or products, if I may say so, that show that we’re doing something meaningful," he said. "I think that our responsibility as a medium is to be maybe a little bit more meaningful with what we're doing."
"I think that our responsibility as a medium is to be maybe a little bit more meaningful with what we're doing."
Still, some games are just supposed to be fun and not require gamers to think too much, de Fondaumiere said. There is a place for these types of games in the industry, but don't expect Quantic Dream to make an over-the-top shooter anytime soon.
"I think there are certain games that are just fun. And that’s great. When I come home, sometimes I just don’t want to think too much about anything. It's like watching an action film. Or playing an action game," he said. "What we're trying to do at Quantic is show that--we're not the only ones, of course--that there are a number of creators today that want to bring something more meaningful. And that's what interests us."
The stakes for Beyond: Two Souls are serious, according to de Fondaumiere. He explained that Quantic Dream has a responsibility to the industry at large to make sure the PlayStation 3 exclusive shines as brightly as it can because the future of the medium may depend on it.
"Not only do we have a responsibility towards our employees, our shareholders, Sony--who's financing this project--but to a certain degree I think also towards the industry to succeed," de Fondaumiere said. "I hope that we're going to show that Hollywood talent brings something. That these actors have an incredible talent and that they're going to raise the bar in terms of what you consider as being the benchmark for characterization."
"Whether the game sells or not, it's not irrelevant, it's important; but it's less important. I think the minimum is that there is a critical consensus that this is the way forward."
Beyond: Two Souls launches October 8.