The Art of Video Games” Interview with Video Game Designer David Cage

  • The Art of Video Games exhibition was on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum March 16 through September 30, 2012. 

    DAVID CAGE: I guess what is really unique about games is the fact that they put you in the shoes of the main character and that you make choices that will have consequences ultimately. So with “Heavy Rain” I was looking for a way to make the player play the story, and that was the main challenge...

    FEMALE CHARACTER: What do you want to know?

    DC: …from a conceptual point of view, to make the story fully interactive.

    SCOTT SHELBY: Did you suspect anyone after he disappeared?

    FC: I meet a lot of pretty shady characters in my line of work.

    DC: The game could behave like a mirror that you give to the player. There are some moral choices at some points, some things where you really wonder, “What should I do?” and the answer is not obvious. So we call that interactive drama.

    FC: Don’t touch me!

    DC: I thought that motion capture was a critical piece of my puzzle. I mean, if I want to create emotional experiences, I need actors capable of, you know, triggering those emotions and delivering a performance. But if I want actors, I need to motion capture them. I need to find a way to rebuild this performance that they deliver on stage so I can get the same emotional impact in the game.

    SS: Well if you remember anything, the smallest detail, give me a call.

    DC: They had to play the “yes” answer and the “no” answer, being as convincing in one case and the other, because the player will have the choice in the end to say, “I want to say yes,” or “I want to say no.”

    It’s not just a story; it’s not just words or images. It’s meaning. It’s some kind of depth to the experience, and this is what I’m looking for more and more in games. I would love to see other people coming up with – coming back with better ideas, different tones, different styles, different genres, and exploring this new direction based on emotion and based on meaning. And if they do it in a very different way than I do it, then that’s fine, that’s great. That’s the best thing that can happen. With interactive drama, we hoped to create a new genre. But if you’re alone in your genre, it’s not really a genre. You need to convince other people that it’s interesting and new and original and powerful enough for them to give it a try.