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Default BioWare - Connecting Emotionally @ GameDaily

July 19th, 2007, 00:55
Ray and Greg have penned a sort of thought piece cum mission statement for GameDaily titled Connecting Emotionally with Gamers:
We'll start with a bold statement (at least for non-gamers): video games are not mere entertainment, but more than that; they have the potential to be the highest form of art. Much as with other forms of entertainment - books, music, art, cinema, and television - there are certainly many different kinds of games, but after thirty years our industry is finally reaching the point where the finest games are capable of reaching players at both higher and deeper emotional levels than the very best of any other form of entertainment.
More information.

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July 19th, 2007, 00:55
Interesting, but really it's little more than Hype for ME, a game I have no interest in whatsoever!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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July 19th, 2007, 01:12
Hm. At a glance I read the article name as Coping Emotionally With Gamers. That would've made a far more interesting article I'd think.

As for the content, it's basic BioWare hype. Not that what they say doesn't hold any truth, but it's self-congratulating hype regardless. I completely disagree with their assertion that games are high art with powerful emotional resonance and depth.

You know the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.
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July 19th, 2007, 02:07
It's what they do. Whenever they participate on a "general" piece, it's always a vehicle for promotion.

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July 19th, 2007, 13:58
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
It's what they do. Whenever they participate on a "general" piece, it's always a vehicle for promotion.
Yes, of course it is. It is what a Prez. and a CEO is supposed to be doing. And the Biowarians, both devs. and PR+biz. people alike, are more honest in their dealings with the public than any other game company I know. There's a interview with them on a podcast (sorry, forgot which one ). When they hear that thhis podcast sponsors 500 US dollars in their name to come children's medical cause, they immediately agree on doubling the money, because they like this sort of thing. Of course, being doctors originally, they would —- but I don't think they are turning their eyes away from the PR-fact that this is, too.

And David Gaider and Patrick Weekes have the balls (sorry about the language, but they do ) to show up here at the rpgwatch and at the Codex to say whatever they say. And of course, both Patrick and David have gotten the OK for their bosses to do so, provided that they don't telle anyone any company secrets, including what the next unannounced xbox 360 game will be, stuff like that. My best bet is that Patrick won't even know this…at this time…

About the piece written for Gamedaily, it is just a more enlarged version of Bioware's mission statement 'to make the best story-driven' games in the world.
And that may well be, but to me, ME, still looks and feels like a 3D shooter, especially in the way it is marketed. There may be a very good rpg game beneath the hood, but maybe Bioware trusts that the Biowarians fans will buy the game no matter what, since it is a Bioware game. I'm not that sure about this, though.

I sort of happen to agree with the good doctors that games are evolving into an artfom, much like books and movies. And like books and movies, there are bad games as well as good games. And ME looks like it is going to be a good game, whether or not it is a good rpg game, remains to be seen, imo…
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July 19th, 2007, 18:18
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
When they hear that thhis podcast sponsors 500 US dollars in their name to come children's medical cause, they immediately agree on doubling the money, because they like this sort of thing. Of course, being doctors originally, they would —- but I don't think they are turning their eyes away from the PR-fact that this is, too.
I came to BioWare after working in Silicon Valley (in Bay Area California) for several years — that's where I grew up and went to school, and I never imagined I'd be moving to Canada someday. I can say without hesitation that BioWare is the most socially active and employee-supprtive company I've ever seen. One of the reasons I haven't been around for the last few weeks is that my wife and I just had a baby. My wife, also a BioWare employee, is taking maternity leave, but I'm just taking a little ordinary vacation time. BioWare gave me a bonus week of vacation time for me to spend more time with my family, and when I got back, I found a congratulatory card on my desk with something inside that will really help my wife and I afford the zillion-and-a-half diapers we'll be buying over the next few months.

And that's just employee support. The number of charities that BioWare supports, either by direct donations or by doubling whatever employees raise, is pretty staggering.

So yes, they're going to market the game whenever possible, like any good business-owners would — but they are the real deal.

And that may well be, but to me, ME, still looks and feels like a 3D shooter, especially in the way it is marketed. There may be a very good rpg game beneath the hood, but maybe Bioware trusts that the Biowarians fans will buy the game no matter what, since it is a Bioware game. I'm not that sure about this, though.
That looks pretty bang-on accurate to me. There's a very nice RPG system under the hood, but the goal is for it to be there for the people who want to customize it (like, you know, everyone here), and the FPS-players can just click "choose my level-up path for me" and get back to shooting geth in the face.

I think that a lot of people will play the game like an FPS, and it'll be a really challenging game for them. Some people who don't play FPSes will use the RPG features to their best advantage, and it'll be a challenging game for them, too. People who play a lot of both FPSes and RPGs will up the difficulty and still have a good time.
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July 19th, 2007, 18:57
Originally Posted by PatrickWeekes View Post
… that will really help my wife and I afford the zillion-and-a-half diapers we'll be buying over the next few months.
Go with washable cloth, no landfill

But yes, BioWare are regularly ranked as one of the best, if not the best, employers in Canada.
The fact that they are great to work for doesn't of course diminish their amazing self-promotion however. That said, it seems to me that BioWare was doing the smooth and well-spoken hype quite well before the whole "hype culture" really took off - a lot of what I read from other publishers and developers seems to draw on what BioWare does with their self promotion, so clearly they do it right.

Being Canadian, I am rather proud of BioWare even though I'm sometimes critical of them. I've had more than a few interactions with BioWarians and they're always extremely professional and polite, and have the promo-speak down to a fine, instinctive, art form.

So yes, they're going to market the game whenever possible, like any good business-owners would — but they are the real deal.
This is true. Any business from a small independent to a large corporation will use any public communications to self-promote. BioWare, it strikes me, while using a lot of hyperbole, haven't actually lied in their hype that I recall, unlike some other companies have done. I can't off-hand recall anything BioWare have claimed to be untrue.

You know the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.
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July 19th, 2007, 20:01
Originally Posted by PatrickWeekes View Post
One of the reasons I haven't been around for the last few weeks is that my wife and I just had a baby.
Congratulations!

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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July 19th, 2007, 20:24
We'll start with a bold statement (at least for non-gamers): video games are not mere entertainment, but more than that; they have the potential to be the highest form of art. Much as with other forms of entertainment - books, music, art, cinema, and television - there are certainly many different kinds of games, but after thirty years our industry is finally reaching the point where the finest games are capable of reaching players at both higher and deeper emotional levels than the very best of any other form of entertainment.
I could agree with this statement about some video games but not about Bioware games. That said, I can understand the background - to make a story-driven games with good graphics comparable with movies takes much more time and cost than some modern innovative casual games and E3 this year was to some extent meant to be a PR of games combined with Hollywood industry. ER itself is PR and Bioware simply said what they felt needed to say. However, IMHO, I have never thought Bioware games are art. If someone says that they are art, then, I simply think he/she hasn't read or watched books or films which reach artistic standard. I think one of the reasons why Bioware games are known of their good stories is that the expectation for the stories of the games are low but this becomes a different story if Bioware claims that their works can be "the highest form of art." In fact, I am already tired of the same old formula of Bioware conversation tree system and stopped buying their games. So, if it comes with cinematic fluency or not doesn't matter to me since I think the weakest point is that they lack interesting themes comparable with more traditional good writing.
Last edited by Gorath; July 19th, 2007 at 21:09.

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July 19th, 2007, 20:41
The emotional thing is already quite well known for Adventure games, but not so much for other games.
I think the Longest Journey is quite an good example for that. Or Indy Jones & the Fate of Atlantis, to call a classic.
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July 20th, 2007, 06:01
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
Yes, of course it is. It is what a Prez. and a CEO is supposed to be doing. And the Biowarians, both devs. and PR+biz. people alike, are more honest in their dealings with the public than any other game company I know. There's a interview with them on a podcast (sorry, forgot which one ). When they hear that thhis podcast sponsors 500 US dollars in their name to come children's medical cause, they immediately agree on doubling the money, because they like this sort of thing. Of course, being doctors originally, they would —- but I don't think they are turning their eyes away from the PR-fact that this is, too.

And David Gaider and Patrick Weekes have the balls (sorry about the language, but they do ) to show up here at the rpgwatch and at the Codex to say whatever they say. And of course, both Patrick and David have gotten the OK for their bosses to do so, provided that they don't telle anyone any company secrets, including what the next unannounced xbox 360 game will be, stuff like that. My best bet is that Patrick won't even know this…at this time…
Sure. I like — and appreciate — Patrick's frank responses and David Gaider is always direct.

And yes, the doctors are doing the right thing by the company. But they are never as forthright as Patrick or David and I'm quite comfortable taking a cynical view of their PR because I know everything they say is sugar-coated and won't actually contain information I am interested in.

I'm not trying to slam them, just to be clear. I just appreciate a different approach.

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July 20th, 2007, 08:29
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
And yes, the doctors are doing the right thing by the company. But they are never as forthright as Patrick or David and I'm quite comfortable taking a cynical view of their PR because I know everything they say is sugar-coated and won't actually contain information I am interested in.
I think that's a valid view. Here's the metaphor I'd use, off the top of my head:

Awhile back, a feminist gaming site had an angry thread involving a book called (as I recall — I'm so not searching for this) "Confessions of a Part-Time Elven Sorceress". It was an intro-to-D&D book aimed at women without a lot of gaming experience, a way to bring women into the gaming field.

The response by the feminist gaming site members was that the book was insulting, because it didn't address deep feminist issues, and because it pandered to stereotypes — the author talked about her love of shopping translating into a love of getting loot and buying magical items, and the feminist gamers were really angry about went with the "women love shopping" stereotype.

What it actually felt like to me, though, was that the feminist gamers were angry that the book wasn't high-level enough for them. They'd wanted a book that addressed deep feminist issues — a book aimed at them — and what they found was a book aimed at presenting a broad view at an easy and friendly level. The feminist gamers already knew what the book said, and they were annoyed with how it said it.

For people who are coming to Mass Effect from, say, Halo 2, the stuff my bosses are talking about is going to be pretty mind-blowing. For people coming to Mass Effect from KotOR, I think that the actual game itself will still be darn impressive*, but it's not like the very idea of it is nothing you've ever heard before. I see the interviews as being aimed at the FPS people, who may very well never have seen this stuff before, so the way it's presented — "Your actions determine what happens, and you can choose which path to take!" — sound like Ray and Greg are being hyperbolic. I don't think that they are, but I do think that the message is, by necessity, being simplified for the non-RPG crowd. (I very much do not think that the RPG elements of the game are being simplified for the non-RPG crowd. There are decisions I disagree with — there always are — but the reasons for those decisions have never been, "It's too hard for people who aren't roleplayers to understand this, so we're dumbing it down." And frankly, I've been in the meetings where, if stuff like that needed to be said, it would have been said.)

* Take KotOR with a different combat engine. Make the Force powers look cooler and affect the environment in better ways. Add a bunch of additional planets for you to explore for side-quests or racking or loot. Improve the look and feel of conversations immensely by writing dialogue that has a better length and tone for spoken-VO. This game is pretty much "Take what worked from KotOR, put it into a new IP and RPG system, and go from there." People who liked KotOR will, I think, be extremely happy with this game. People who didn't like KotOR will probably dislike this game, too, unless their concerns with KotOR were, I don't know, lightsabers or something.
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July 20th, 2007, 09:07
Great insights as to what is happening. I don't think ME is the game for me, but I've long been a supporter of Bioware, even when I'm critical of what they do, because they are an RPG developer who are trying to deliver games we'll enjoy. Think about how much poorer our gaming lives would have been without them!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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July 20th, 2007, 14:05
I'm realistic about the business side of gaming, so I can appreciate what you are saying. I wasn't so much thinking of the process of hyping up ME as, say, more insight into the company, including things that didn't go so right. There was a Jade Empire SE retrospective at IGN? recently, for example, that was pure hype (actually, I think that might have been Casey or someone else but you get the point). I would have loved some actual insight rather than selling but BioWare always uses these opportunities in the same way.

I'm not really criticising. I follow the business/industry side of things as well as the games and I just know the doctors aren't going to give me anything.

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