Big Pic­ture Mode

In­dus­try is­sues given the widescreen treat­ment

EDGE - - SECTIONS - NATHAN BROWN Nathan Brown is Edge’s deputy editor, but he still knows the dif­fer­ence be­tween an MT103 and an MT202

Nathan Brown mulls over Notch, Bleszin­ski and Kojima’s fu­tures

Six years ago, I was work­ing in fi­nance. I’d spent al­most my en­tire ca­reer in banks and fi­nance de­part­ments, the ex­cep­tion be­ing a mag­i­cal 12 months at a dance mu­sic web­site in my early 20s, a job that es­sen­tially in­volved re­view­ing records all day and go­ing clubbing ev­ery week­end. My em­ployer’s fund­ing was pulled af­ter 9/11 and, with Lon­don rents to pay, I needed a job. I fig­ured I’d drift back into bank­ing for a bit while I planned my next move. It took me ten years and a gen­er­ous re­dun­dancy pack­age to not only make that move, but even to work out what it would be. It’s hard to break the sta­tus quo when you’re liv­ing pay­day to pay­day, and only when I had the time and money to stop wor­ry­ing about where next month’s rent – well, mort­gage pay­ment by then – was com­ing from was I able to stop and mull over what I wanted to do.

I’ve been think­ing about that a lot lately, be­cause some of the in­dus­try’s big names are cur­rently at var­i­ous points in that process. Markus ‘Notch’ Pers­son, newly monied and un­em­ployed af­ter selling Minecraft, re­cently had a very public ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis on Twit­ter. Cliff Bleszin­ski re­vealed his new stu­dio’s first game, and ad­mit­ted he thought he was out for good af­ter leav­ing Epic be­cause he’d grown jaded with the busi­ness of mak­ing games. And with The Phan­tom Pain on shelves and his time at Kon­ami mess­ily brought to a close, Hideo Kojima is pon­der­ing what to do af­ter al­most 30 years of mak­ing games with Me­tal Gear in their ti­tles.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween me and those three is money, but I’m not about to join the massed ranks of press and public out­raged at the sug­ges­tion that rich peo­ple can have it hard too. Such was the case with Notch, who turned a fun cod­ing pro­ject into $2.5 bil­lion, out­bid Jay Z and Bey­oncé for the most ex­pen­sive house in Bev­erly Hills, then started par­ty­ing with in­suf­fer­able EDM bel­lends. Whether it was this or un­der­ly­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues that prompted a small­hours so­cial-media con­fes­sion and the public pile-on that fol­lowed, that’s his busi­ness. If a man wants, and can af­ford, to spend his days munch­ing M&Ms in his spe­cially de­signed candy room while he de­cides what to do next, then good luck to him. We’d all do it dif­fer­ently (Mas­ters At Work and Skit­tles Sours, if you’re ask­ing), but what mat­ters most is that he’s start­ing to work out what he wants to do with his life. He’s shown again that a bot­tom­less bank ac­count is no guar­an­tor of in­fi­nite hap­pi­ness.

Bleszin­ski’s got dough too, of course – enough to fund his post-Epic sab­bat­i­cal of tweet­ing pic­tures of his feet in front of var­i­ous ho­tel-rooftop in­fin­ity pools – but he too will have in­ter­spersed his down­time with some se­ri­ous con­tem­pla­tion of what to do next. I won­der whether Notch will be struck by how Bleszin­ski’s moved for­wards by look­ing back­wards; the in-pro­duc­tion

Law­Break­ers is a hi-res homage to arena shoot­ers such as Un­real, the game on which Bleszin­ski made his name. Notch can’t fol­low that to the let­ter – Mi­crosoft might have some­thing to say about him mak­ing another voxel build­ing game, and the in­dus­try’s got that well and truly cov­ered any­way. But Bleszin­ski had the time and the money to work out what he wanted to do with life, and he’s do­ing it. Cru­cially, he seems happy.

Who knows whether Kojima is. Money’s clearly not an is­sue for him – he’s got enough to keep him in art­house Blu-rays, Ul­travox pic­ture discs and In­sta­grammed posh lunches – but com­pared to Notch he might as well be you or me, de­spite his role in cre­at­ing a se­ries that has helped keep Kon­ami afloat for three decades.

While he has plenty in com­mon with Bleszin­ski and Notch – and even a lit­tle with the me of six years ago, in a round­about, much less bor­ing way – his sit­u­a­tion is the most dif­fi­cult. His rep­u­ta­tion means he will have op­tions, no doubt; Kon­ami aside, surely there isn’t a pub­lisher on the planet un­will­ing to back his next big idea to the hilt. But while Notch chose to take Mi­crosoft’s cheque for Minecraft and Bleszin­ski like­wise left of his own ac­cord, Kojima is dif­fer­ent. Kon­ami gave him the money and the time to make what he wanted to make, and ended up pun­ish­ing him for it. He made the game of his life, and was given his march­ing or­ders. At least he, like the oth­ers, is now in con­trol of his des­tiny, free to work out what he wants to do next. Per­haps, if he hasn’t tired of an over­bear­ing cor­po­rate struc­ture that doesn’t prop­erly re­ward his hard work, he might con­sider a move into fi­nance.

Kon­ami gave Kojima the money and the time to make what he wanted to make, and ended up pun­ish­ing him for it

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