Video games are the most fascinating medium ever created, David Cage says

"They have the power to make you think in ways that films and books have not achieved," Heavy Rain designer says.

by

According to David Cage, head of Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls developer Quantic Dream, video games are the most fascinating medium ever created. The latest issue of Play magazine (via NowGamer) features an interview with the industry veteran, who says, "At the moment, we use video games as a toy, but they have the potential to be meaningful."

"By far, video games are the most fascinating medium that mankind has ever created. They have the power to make you think in ways that films and books have not achieved," he added.

Cage and Quantic Dream are currently working on a mystery PlayStation 4 game, and it sounds like Cage is thinking about a whole new way to tell a story for this project.

"Even if it means being some kind of alien to the game industry. I want to experiment and try new ideas" -- David Cage

"So my goal over the past years has been to develop a new approach to narrative," he said. "Instead of thinking of a 2D script, like a film, which moves through just time and space, I've tried to develop a 3D script that operates through time, space, and interactivity."

"I try to provide interesting interactive experiences and at the same time learn how to make them better," Cage added. "Even if it means being some kind of alien to the game industry. I want to experiment and try new ideas. I have criticisms of myself, things that I wish I could have done differently or better, but I rarely have regrets. I'm trying to understand this new language we have to tell interactive stories."

Don't expect this new PS4 game to focus on a gun-toting hero, however.

"See, our industry has defined interactivity as performing physical actions, like shooting or jumping, in loops. So, for many people, my games are not real video games because they don't fit into this restrictive idea of interactivity. My characters don't carry guns or shoot every person they meet," Cage said. "They lead normal lives and do mundane things. They have emotions and relationships. This, to me, is what interactivity is about--creating real empathy between a player and their character. But games are a conservative industry. It's hard to convince hardcore players to accept these new kinds of interactivity."

Though advancements have been made, storytelling and character development in games still has a ways to go to catch up to movies, according to Cage.

"My opinion is that we have nothing in games that gets anywhere near to a good film in terms of narrative or characterization. Games focus on simple themes and target a teenage audience," Cage said. "They could become meaningful. They could have the power to move a larger audience. But it would take new paradigms, a shift to privileging meaning over action and a lot more power given to talented people for that to happen."

Cage isn't confident that this will ever happen, though, at least not in his lifetime.

"The more things go on, the more I doubt things will change. To be honest, we are very few people in the world thinking this way. Maybe incremental changes, step by step, could make a difference, but I will probably be dead by the time it happens."

Despite Cage's apparent negativity, he says he's not going to give up. He also stressed that just because he wants to create "meaningful" games, it doesn't mean this should be the only type of game out there.

"This work is always fascinating, always challenging. I still think there should be games for all, games for different people who have different expectations. I wish I could learn and work faster, and have more courage to do more crazy things. Game after game, I try to explore boundaries. I believe you could make a very unique experience by doing an interactive Shakespeare play. So, although there is strong resistance from the games industry when it comes to considering different creative directions, I love lost causes. It's probably my romantic French side. "

What do you make of Cage's comments? Let us know in the comments below!

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

144 comments
grenadehh
grenadehh

Also I disagree that all games target a teenage audience or don't come close to  a movie. While there is always an obvious narrative disconnect, games like Uncharted or Last of Us, and yes Cage's own games, and MGS, do a very good job of being better movies than games. While they are all clearly pretty actioney movies, action movies are still movies.


For example, what made TLOU a good movie was that the themes were pretty mature. It wasn't about the infected, it was about the human element. It was about the fact that the characters were who they were and they changed throughout the game yet at the end there was still something that you have to at least be a little bit older than 13 to understand fully.


Or, say, Dead Space or Dante's Inferno. Obviously they were slightly mature if you actually played them and understood the themes. 

grenadehh
grenadehh

Always cage that says this, a guy who has never actually made a game before. IP heavy rain BTS, sorry, not games. Go back to LoK or shush

noigel
noigel

SPOILER ALERT for Heavy Rain

A guy that says the he focuses on narrative -but in favor of the typical twist at the end of the game, deliberately hides the players the fact that one of the characters they are controlling is the bad guy, by not showing an assassination that the character perpetrates while being controlled by the players (the P.I. killing the old guy of the typewriter in the antiques shop)- is someone that deserves no credit whatsoever.

END OF SPOILERS


And also... you don't read much, do you Mr. Cage?

PSYCHOV3N0M
PSYCHOV3N0M

"Cage said. "They lead normal lives and do mundane things. They have emotions and relationships. This, to me, is what interactivity is about--creating real empathy between a player and their character. But games are a conservative industry. It's hard to convince hardcore players to accept these new kinds of interactivity."



Dear Mr. Cage, don't confuse "hardcore players" with casual masses.....

Hardcore players in general would give games like yours at least a chance before passing judgment. The casual masses wouldn't even bother TRYING your games nor even watch a few clips of gameplay footage.

kryotech
kryotech

Cage's own games aren't exactly games as much as they are movies. While I agree that many games do not focus on complex concepts, the solution to integrating this is not to make interactive movies. A game needs to be a game. The thematic elements can be brought integrated in and it will eventually happen.

Urizen316
Urizen316

Sugarcoat it all you want mr Cage, you've made some limited crappy games

Hurvl
Hurvl

By being an interactive medium, videogames have a unique quality when it comes to tell stories. It gives the consumer the ability to be a part in it and create their own version of it. Unlike movies or books, the same thing doesn't happen each time you delve into that story.

Samparksh
Samparksh

I think that Cage himself caters to the teenage audience as well.All the characters in his games seem to be right out of a 'Princess Diary' book.

ForceSkin
ForceSkin

*Spoilers* Delivering that baby in Beyond:Two Souls. Dem feels

lilflipp
lilflipp

Why can't we have... all of it. Every genre of games. I love to play good story driven games, I love to play Civs, and sometimes I just want to play a game like Broforce. I want it all. I'm greedy GIMME MOAR GAMEZ WE WANTZ IT ALL FOR OURSELVES PRECIOUS

rsj2
rsj2

According to friends and reviews, the player's choices in Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls didn't really affect how the story played out.  I love how enthusiastic he is for interactivity in games but from what I hear it doesn't sound like he's pulling it off.  

If that's the case, he should look at Mass Effect - your choices do have some pretty far-reaching implications, so by the end of ME3 I felt really engaged with my Shepard.  

(Also it's an amazing sci-fi universe, which is WAY cooler than Heavy Rain's contemporary domestic setting.)

TheExxorcist
TheExxorcist

I don't care what happens ... As long as the industry is alive!

Space_Paranoids
Space_Paranoids

"My characters don't carry guns or shoot every person they meet," Cage said. "They lead normal lives and do mundane things. They have emotions and relationships. This, to me, is what interactivity is about."


Has this man lost his marbles ? Normal and mundane things can be cool in a game as a brief snippet but certainly not for the entirety of the experience. I want fantasy, I want to fly, I want to make things explode, I want to cast magic, I want to save the princess...I do not want to walk to the fridge and pour myself a glass of milk. Come back to Earth Mr. Cage

Johny_47
Johny_47

Maybe in his opinion, loads of people can argue against or with this though, I think music, film and games are all fascinating.

nparks
nparks

"By far, video games are the most fascinating medium that mankind has ever created," said developer David Cage.  "Except for porn," he added.  "That's definitely still my favorite.  Boobies in video games still don't stand up to the real thing, no matter how hard I try."

youre_a_sheep
youre_a_sheep

Look, I loved Heavy Rain but I don't want the average game to be about completing QTE's to unlock the next five minutes of narrative, within which I'm given meaningless dialogue options that don't even affect the story.  The only way this style works going forward is if I'm truly given control to make choices that tell the story as I want it to be.

I thought my actions as Ethan Mars were going to determine whether he turned out to be the Origami Killer or someone else; a game where that's the case would be brilliant so long as it all made sense by the end.

keech
keech

"My opinion is that we have nothing in games that gets anywhere near to a good film in terms of narrative or characterization."

I hope he realizes this also includes his own games.  Now I'm not against the sort of "game-lite" interactive storytelling Cage is talking about.  I think there's room for any and all sorts of video games.  The problem is Cage isn't a particularly good writer.  His writing comes across like a sociopath attempting to write emotional characters by trying to mimic what he has seen people who actually feel emotions do.

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

i gotta give it up to him, he really knows how to talk lol. he has big aspirations for his games but he has a barrier because his interactivity is very limiting soo far. his games are good but its because i played with the mentality that his games are point and click adventures

Threesixtyci
Threesixtyci

Cage need to play/view Last of Us, TR or MGS, by the looks of it. Main problem with his games is that there are no solid gameplay elements. He tried to do a MGS/LoU type gameplay thing with Beyond Two Souls, but the gameplay had no depth. You had 3 chances to do something and then the game would just give you a free pass, with the Adin hand offs. And there were only 3 or 4 instances where the gameplay stealth/action stuff, actually happened. 

Tomb Raider's cutscenes were this way, too. But at least it had constant gameplay in between it's QTE's cutscene, events.

kingcrimson24
kingcrimson24

Beyond two souls was a great game ... the only problem with it was that it didn't feel like a game . 



parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

 "David Cage still just... Saying things, according to report."

Gixzr
Gixzr

"Cage isn't confident that this will ever happen, though, at least not in his lifetime."   I wouldn't bet on that, today huge changes happen over night -literally .

faizanhd
faizanhd

Maybe he should make one someday  :P

El_Zaggy
El_Zaggy

lol @ David Cage saying Video game medium is great while his 'games' are quite the trash. Games like TLOU, MGS, Heavy Rain, Beyond two souls and other that are mostly cutscenes arent games, they are very limited interactive movies which gives the illusion to the player that he plays and change something but in fact this is just trash

dani_i89
dani_i89

I don't know whether to like or dislike this guy. On one hand he wants to create an immersive story-telling experience, which is great. On the other hand, he's bashing the gaming industry and saying that games are about shooting everyone the player meets, and that games don't come close to movies in relation to story-telling.

Seems like he's only ever played Call of Duty, and has no idea about Mass Effect, The Witcher, Halo or The Last of Us.

thekazumalord
thekazumalord

I think it's ironic that David Cage would state how great gaming is and how it's better then films when he himself doesn't seem to know how to make proper games and makes games with minimum input on the gamer's behalf.

dipdish
dipdish

"I wish I could learn and work faster, and have more courage to do more crazy things. Game after game, I try to explore boundaries. I believe you could make a very unique experience by doing an interactive Shakespeare play. So, although there is strong resistance from the games industry when it comes to considering different creative directions, I love lost causes. It's probably my romantic French side. "


I wish there were more people in the industry like you. 

stuff238
stuff238

I don't care what anyone says. I would rate TLOU, MGS1-4, Uncharted 2, Heavy Rain and tons more some of the best damn "ART" you could ever hope to have fun with.

I can get lost in a video game like I can get lost in a comic book, normal book, movie etc.

It is just these OLD critics bashing video games because they never played them. Video games are what? 40 years old? Compared to movies(100), TV(70?), Books(Hundreds). God. Give them a break.

prats93
prats93

Sorry, but games are still far behind books and film.

Space_Paranoids
Space_Paranoids

@rsj2 Which is the difference here, doing mundane things in space or some other fantasy world is cool as it's something I would never do in real life in that setting. Walking down my ship's corridor to look out the window upon some undiscovered new world is essentially a boring idea. You're just walking and looking out a window, no different that a Cage game. The setting is what takes it to the next level. 


Indigo Prophecy hit the sweet spot with the sci-fi/murder mystery where by the end you were flying in the air fighting some crazy alien. Heavy Rain tried and I applaud it for that but some things just don't translate well into games. You have to work within the confines of your medium and Beyond Two Souls proved that when you forget that, things tend to fall apart...that and the story just jumped around way too much, it was hard to be invested in your character when every few minutes you were in a completely new time/setting.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@Space_Paranoids "Come back to Earth Mr. Cage" Or rather, step away from Earth Mr. Cage, Earth is boring, we experience the Earth every day, we want something new. 

I'm always looking to do something I can't do in real life when playing games and so I like sci-fi/fantasy games. Some people play racing games, because they don't have access to those cars or tracks in real life and that's another way of escaping reality. Sure, the Sims and contemporary settings have an audience too and there should be games made for all kinds of interests, but I won't play them.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@keech Lol, it's as if he was an alien from outer space trying to understand human emotions. He even admits it himself "it means being some kind of alien" :P.

youre_a_sheep
youre_a_sheep

@jake198624  You make an excellent point that there's no reason a strong story and great gameplay can't coexist, but that very rarely happens, and I blame cutscenes.  You can't repeatedly rip us out of the game to tell a story, then go back again.  The best ones are like Red Dead Redemption, where you were doing something mundane like driving a stagecoach while the narrative played out.

olddadgamer
olddadgamer

@Gixzr I agree.  Given the steps games have already taken, unless he's fixing to die soon, he'll probably see a whole lot.

Swinny14
Swinny14

@El_Zaggy The Last Of Us and MGS are mostly cutscenes? That is where you are mistaken, TLOU is around 16-18 hours long and only 1 hour or less is cutscenes.

The MGS series is a series that I play through at least once a year and have gotten 1,000's of hours of GAMEPLAY out of thanks to the insane level of replayability built into every game. 

You are full of it.  

uchihasilver
uchihasilver

@El_Zaggy clearly you haven't played any of them then . . . guess you are just into dudebro shooters then?

olddadgamer
olddadgamer

@dani_i89 Best way to treat Cage is to respect him and dislike him.  He is a visionary, he does genuinely want to make a difference in games, he very much cares about gaming as a medium.  He is also a man with an ego the size of Texas.  But then, a lot of artists are not particularly likeable.  I think you have to have an ego to put yourself out there artistically.

uchihasilver
uchihasilver

@dani_i89 tbf that is everyones general perception of video games because 90% of games are just dudebro shooters these days where murica has to save the day ¬.¬ 

uchihasilver
uchihasilver

@thekazumalord he makes interactive movie games ¬.¬ i'm so sorry ill will contact mister cage immediately and tell him he also needs to make CoD clones yer? 

stuff238
stuff238

@prats93 Disagree. When I read a book. I imagine the world I am in.

When I play a video game I see the world I am in, but I create stories in my head. I live a fantasy world.

Video games are just as great as books and film. Elitist Critic haters love to hate.

keech
keech

@Hurvl @keech See I don't hold to that at all.  Maybe Cage feels like an alien trying to write believable and emotional characters, but he doesn't speak for all writers.


Plenty of games have nailed believable and emotional characters.  To the Moon (an indie game with 16-bit sprite graphics) has more emotional weight than anything Cage has ever done.  It's all in the writing, Kan Gao (the writer of To the Moon) actually understands how to get an emotional reaction.


Cage on the other hand seems to have it totally backwards.  He has said many times that with the new graphics technology we can "convey true human emotions that were impossible before now".  He has it in his head that photo-realistic polygons and state of the art motion capture = emotions.


By that logic every live action movie ever made is a stroke of brilliance and every book is a flat, bland, shallow experience.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@Swinny14 Rofl, no. Absolutely wrong. There is very little replay in any MG game, actually, all you sir are doing is replaying the game over and over and pretending that's replayability. I've played RE4 dozens of times but that doesn't mean the game has a high replay factor, it means I was bored and played it on different systems. And TLOU, no, there is more cutscene in the game than game where you actually do anything significant. That's the problem. There's plenty of gameplay - but half of it is useless.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@uchihasilver @El_Zaggy No he's spot on with his comment. TLoU had more cutscenes than game and in at least half of the actual gameplay, you weren't doing anything anyway - you were riding around campus on a horse, carrying your daughter through town, wondering around "solving" "puzzles" such as pointless side-tracking you had to do because ellie can't swim, looking for a pre-determined progression waypoint, or some other meaningless thing that I'm giving a pass as gameplay because you at least controlled the character. The actual action sequences always lasted less time than the nonsense exploration sequences.


MGS4 was 90% movie and everyone knows that. Heavy Rain, and BTS, even worse than TLOU.


I wouldn't call them trash but I'm sure everyone knows by now I'm not fond of these games, even though I rated them highly for what they were.

dani_i89
dani_i89

I agree with you, but he's coming out as pretty arrogant, even for an artist. I doubt his art would exist if it weren't for the games that came before the ones he created. A lot of games are rubbish these days, but you cannot ignore the quality that has come through

grenadehh
grenadehh

@uchihasilver @dani_i89 I can easily name 450 games off the top of my head that aren't dudebro murica shooters. Here I'll give you as many as I feel liek typing. Sleeping Dogs, Watch Dogs, every AC game, every Dead Space, BioShock 1, 2, Infinite, System Shock, System Shock 2, Doom, Unreal, UT, FF1 through 15, Resonance of Fate, Bayonetta, Castlevania LOS 1 and 2, Lollipop Chainsaw, NG 1 through 3, every Persona, every Valkyrie Chronicles, Teslagrad, DayZ, Rust, PS1 and 2, Walking Dead, Hyperdimension Neptunia, Terraria, Starbound, Escape Velocity, Sins of a Solar Empire, RTW 1 and 2, MTW 1 and 2, NTW, STW, Force Unleashed 1 and 2, KOTOR 1 and 2, Tie Fighter, X Wing, SW Battlefront 1 and 2, Mirror's Edge, Darksiders 1 and 2, Dante's Inferno, every PoP, every Burnout, okay I'm done I think you get my point.


Dudebro shooters in general are the minority of games. Throw in Murica and the number is even smaller. Every game is not Call of Duty or Battlefield or Medal of Honor, or other shooters.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@uchihasilver @dani_i89 Not even vaguely close. Some of the most popular games are, but that doesn't mean that every game released is a CoD clone. If you were right, we would have had roughly 200 AAA, high profile "dudebro" shooters last year, which would be f****** insane and obviously didn't happen.

loafofgame
loafofgame

@stuff238 It depends. When it comes to narrative, thematic and character variety and complexity I'd say books and films are still pretty far ahead. Plus, games are limited in their narrative potential, because the gameplay elements almost always compete with the story. But the interactive part of videogames and the possibility to create convincing fantasy worlds that the 'player' can explore means narratives in videogames can have a more profound and personal impact than books or movies, although one could of course argue about that. 

But saying videogames are just as great as books and film is too much of a generalisation, They're three very different ways of telling a story. And I think videogames are still far from what they could do in the narrative department.

loafofgame
loafofgame

@uchihasilver I was talking in general. Videogames hardly ever achieve the narrative complexity of good books and films (by which I do not mean to say videogame stories are automatically bad), regardless of how crappy you think films are now.

Also, the conviction that movies (or anything) used to be better is often the result of people having a more complete and immediate view on the present, while only remembering the best or the worst of the past. Crap came out then, crap comes out now. Good stuff came out then, good stuff comes out now. You won't believe the amount of mediocre stuff that passed for movies 'back in the day'. But people don't remember that and in their current context the past is only represented in extremes.