Gamasutra - Richard Garriot Interview
Gamasutra has a Q & A up with the creator of the Ultimas, Richard Garriot, discussing his views on games as art, consoles, mobile game platforms and his lack of time spent actually gaming:
Many people in the industry feel strongly, like you do, that games are art - but does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?
RG: Well, no. If you think about the purpose of most people in this business, I think most of them are ... here to make money. They're here to find something that becomes popular, and therefore sells well.
However, I think if you look at the measure of what it takes to become popular...I think it takes a combination of things. For example, addictive game mechanics. The kind of "pull the lever on the slot machine and occasionally get a return," which I would not call art, as much as a science.
But another thing that can create popularity in a game is to be attractive -- which could just be nice aesthetics. But another one would be to be compelling. I think what makes this compelling at a more human level is when you can touch people at an emotional or psychological level -- which I would consider art.
On mobile gaming platforms:
You've been able to side-step the console issue, for at least the past ten years.
RG: I have. But what's fun is... even when I was doing work back on the Apple II, there were already the Atari 8-bits, and the Nintendo cartridge machines and things, too. Even back in those days, people were talking about "the death of the PC," and "the rise of the console." And today, people are still talking about the death of the PC and the rise of the console.
But I must say, though, that the line between the two continues to blur, especially now that a lot of consoles are online and now a lot of consoles have pretty sophisticated input devices.
What about mobile games? Do you ever play with cell phone games?
RG: Absolutely. In fact, that's actually the area that, other than PC games, I'm actually most enthusiastic about. The problem is that I'm also a skeptic.
I wish that it would come true, I want it to come true. My favorite Ultima, other than a PC Ultima, was the Runes of Virtue we did for the Game Boy, which was only a shadow of a full-blown Ultima, but was a really good game -- and on a Pocket PC, I [have] it [here] in my bag. I carry a Pocket PC, I've owned pretty much every Pocket PC, looking for the optimal, the ergonomics for me personally, as well as pondering gaming on these devices.
On his own gaming:
... RG: As a gamer, I'm actually surprisingly ignorant of what's going on... many of the popular products I've of course heard of, a few of them maybe even purchased the box, like I have a BioShock box on my desk, that I've never installed for about three months now.
Does that concern you? And this is the story for developers across the board -- they never actually have time to play games, they only have time to make them?
RG: Not really...
When I do play games -- with the exception of the ones I already mentioned like Myst, and Abe's Oddysee, and American McGee's Alice, which I played because I really enjoyed them, and I played them to completion -- most of the time when I play a game, I play it for like two hours.
And I play it to really get the gist of "what is their big advancement," UI theorem, what's their render pipeline operating like, what is their mission cycle organized like. And so I'm studying it. As soon as I think I've got the gist of it, I'm done, I move on.