Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Steven Spielberg's Video Game

Good ole' Steven Spielberg. We've learned so much about life through watching his movies. Such as never ever go into water above your knees because monstrous sharks are always lurking just a little outside of your vision. We also learned that aliens are adorable and should be kept in closets and protected from the all-seeing eye of an uncaring national government. Also, Nazis make the perfect bad guys.

One could make the case that Steven Spielberg knows a lot about what makes a good movie. He's been nominated twelve times for Academy Awards and has won three of those times. Not only has he racked up the nominations, but he has done it across four decades: from Best Director for Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977 to Best Producer for Letters from Iwo Jima in 2006. This man literally has a lifetime of experience in story-telling through cinema under his belt.

But now, the great film director has decided to try something new. It was announced some months ago that Steven Spielberg had contracted with one of the largest publishers of video games in the world, Electronic Arts, to direct two video games to be published under their label. One was to be a dramatic, narrative-driven game for the Microsoft XBox 360 and the Sony Playstation 3, and the other was to be a physics-based puzzle game for the Nintendo Wii. Few details were given, and much speculation abounded.

Could Spielberg make not one, but two great games that live up to his legacy as a director? Would he be able to direct a game that had very little narrative focus? Would EA shoehorn him into a budget and time frame that were impossible to accomplish like they have done for other developers? Would his games wind up looking like one of the many other craptastic games based on movie narratives?

The essential question derived from all of this is: Does Spielberg's directorial genius translate from the medium of moving pictures and narration to the medium of interaction, competition, and user-creativity?

I will admit, I was highly skeptical about this question for quite some time. No knocking Spielberg, but game design is hard work that few people can do with any success. However, now you can be the judge for yourself as to Spielberg's talent and ingenuity. Below is the very first video for his Wii game. It was released recently with little other information than its title: Boom Blox.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, so feel free to leave it in the comments. I believe that the video shows great ingenuity, and that Spielberg will prove he has a medium-transcending eye for design. If the game is released at a lower-than-normal price point, it has the potential to tear through the market as a must-have casual game.

Little is known of the progress of Spielberg's other game, but I'm feeling much less skeptical about both of them after viewing this video. Who knows, maybe he will even go the extra mile in his other game and throw in some Nazis!


Drew said...

Before Jeremy gets a chance to say it, I already know. Godwin's Law, I lose the blog.

-F- said...

I say Spielberg's got the gamers' touch.

Did you know he was behind the Medal of Honor series? Because of his experience with Saving Private Ryan he wanted to make a game similar to it. Remember Saving Private Ryan's D-Day scene, people saw the previews of it and were sold on it. Remember Medal of Honor's D-Day scene, people saw the demos of it and were sold on the game.

He's already got the gift, I'm just perterbed he went the puzzler route on an already puzzler packed system. I'm more interested in his other more epic game.

-F- said...

He was behind Tiny Toons he can do cute. :)