Food For Thought

Five de­vel­op­ers. Three cour­ses of din­ner. One dis­cus­sion about key is­sues fac­ing games to­day

EDGE - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy Will Ire­land

Fol­low­ing a long day at this year’s Evolve con­fer­ence in Brighton, it is time for din­ner, drinks, and the op­por­tu­nity to chew over the top­ics of the day. And who bet­ter to in­vite along than peo­ple in­ti­mately in­volved in the is­sues driv­ing videogames in 2015? Join­ing us at Brighton’s Ho­tel Du Vin are for­mer EA and ng­moco man Neil Young, now CEO of mo­bile-game pub­lisher N3t­work; Dave Ran­yard, stu­dio di­rec­tor at Sony’s Lon­don de­vel­op­ment fa­cil­ity, where he’s over­see­ing Pro­ject Mor­pheus games such as The Heist; Todd Harris, COO of Smite and Tribes: As­cend cre­ator Hi-Rez Stu­dios; Randy Pitch­ford, pres­i­dent of Gear­box Soft­ware, home to the Bor­der­lands se­ries; and Dan Pinch­beck, cre­ative di­rec­tor at The Chi­nese Room, the stu­dio be­hind Ev­ery­body’s Gone To The Rap­ture. Din­ing op­tions or­dered, we get started with our first topic: vir­tual re­al­ity.

Neil, this morn­ing you said you feel that main­stream VR adop­tion is three to five years away, and that you see the so­cial as­pect as a bar­rier – that peo­ple will be re­luc­tant to shut them­selves off from oth­ers around them – but hasn’t that hap­pened al­ready, with mo­bile phones? Neil Young

First, I should pref­ace any­thing by say­ing that I think VR and AR are su­per fuck­ing cool. I just don’t think they’re a scale busi­ness op­por­tu­nity yet. I think a lot of peo­ple are think­ing they are, and are jump­ing into it, and they’re just go­ing to get blown up in the process. So, if you want to be in that space, I’m ad­vo­cat­ing that you should be fo­cus­ing on things that ac­tu­ally de­fine the plat­forms, that kind of set the bound­aries of what these things can do, ver­sus port­ing your ex­ist­ing prod­uct or just do­ing some­thing in the space be­cause you think it’s the next gold rush. In Amer­ica, the VC com­mu­nity makes it feel like it’s the next gold rush, be­cause the pre­vi­ous gold rush is now over from their per­spec­tive, so they need the next one, and I don’t think it’s nec­es­sar­ily help­ing.

In terms of the hu­man use case, in the case of VR games I think it’s about im­mers­ing your­self in a world, and it wants you to spend a long pe­riod of time in there. But I think there are so­cial lim­i­ta­tions, and maybe even phys­i­cal or med­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions, that af­fect your abil­ity to do that. So I think it cre­ates a co­nun­drum for VR that has to be solved. For me, as some­one who has a fam­ily, I have a teenage boy who you’d think would be all over

FIFA VR if it came out. But from my per­spec­tive as a par­ent, I find it hard to imag­ine him lock­ing him­self into that world, so that’s go­ing to ap­ply some kind of parental fric­tion into the en­vi­ron­ment. There are fam­ily-re­lated is­sues. My wife is ob­vi­ously mar­ried to some­one who makes games, she’s worked in the games in­dus­try and the vis­ual ef­fects in­dus­try, and she’s pretty pro­gres­sive in her think­ing, but the idea of her hus­band sit­ting with a hel­met on his head for more than one hour a week is just a non-starter. I think there are a lot of things we have to work through. That doesn’t mean it’s not cool, and it doesn’t mean to say it’s not go­ing to be big. The idea of my daugh­ter go­ing to col­lege, and be­ing able to sit and watch a movie with her and feel­ing like I’m in the same room, that’s re­ally ap­peal­ing to me. But these things are go­ing to hap­pen much more slowly than we want them to hap­pen. I think it’s be­cause VR fits into this con­struct that we’ve de­vel­oped through science fic­tion, and now it’s here, so we want it to hap­pen even faster than the nat­u­ral lim­i­ta­tions may al­low.

Dave Ran­yard In terms of the so­cial as­pect, I think it has more to do with sci-fi writ­ers than what’s ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing. As a stu­dio, we pe­ti­tioned SCEI to give us what we call a

[neil young]

CEO, N3t­work

[dan pinch­beck]

Cre­ative di­rec­tor, The Chi­nese Room

[randy pitch­ford]

CEO, Gear­box Soft­ware

[dave ran­yard]

Stu­dio di­rec­tor, SCEE Lon­don

[todd harris]

COO, Hi-Rez Stu­dios

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