Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Uncanny Valley Be Damned

Quantic Dream's "Project Kara" has me all aflutter. The video (below) is more technical showcase than artist's statement, but it has nevertheless thrown me headlong into the games-are-so-art frame of mind that tends to exclude me from civil conversation. Giddy -- that's what I am.

And it's not that they're breaking new ground for interactive play, making a statement with player positioning or any of that -- they're just showing us what we're physically capable of with the tools we already have. With those tools they've injected more humanity into seven minutes of real-time game footage than I thought was possible, and its just bursting at the seams with pathos. Here, just watch it: 


And here's the gist of what David Cage and Co. hope to accomplish with their focus (technical and thematic) on emotional expression:

It's an interesting problem that games face as an audience that grew up with them slowly outgrows them, the medium often seemingly trapped in an infinite teen twilight of guns and fast cars, and one that Cage hopes to be able to solve.

"Being older, when I ask people around me what games they play they say they don't play them anymore," Cage says. "They still watch TV, they still go to the movies - and the fact that they don't play games anymore isn't because they don't have time, it's because there are no games for them any more."

I desperately hope that the final product will be as pure as their intentions. Considering the mixed reviews and ambiguous classification (Cage admitted himself that it was more of an interactive movie than a game) of their last project, Heavy Rain, I can't say I harbor too much hope of Quantic's next project bridging the formidable gap between simulation (interactive media) and representational narrative, pristine as that representation appears here.

At the very least, I'll take Cage at his word: if Quantic Dream can make a game that drives my dad -- the man who introduced me to Doom, Warcraft 2 and Myst in lazier days -- back to video games of his own volition, I'll be happy and hopeful enough.

- Walt

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