Beyond: no one has the power to define what a game is, says Cage

Wednesday, 9th October 2013 08:20 GMT By Dave Cook

Beyond: Two Souls reviews have started to drop, and the industry opinion is – predictably – split on whether it’s any good or not. Quantic Dream boss David Cage has suggested that no one out there has the power to truly define what a game is, and that many people simply want the same experiences over and over but with more polygons.

Before we dive in though, you can check out my own appraisal of Beyond: Two Souls here, and check out Steph’s review score round-up here.

Now then, speaking with Gamespot, Cage said, “Some people can be very conservative about this medium and this is sometimes frustrating. Some people wish that games would always stay what they were in the past 30 years, just with more polygons. No one should be allowed to define what a video game is or should be; no one has this power.

“A video game can be so many different things. Angry Birds is a game; Call of Duty is a game; World of Warcraft is a game; Gone Home is a game. Who can decide ‘you are a video game’, ‘you are not a video game’, ‘you are not a part of this family?’ No. Let’s open this medium to whoever has different ideas and it’s great to see people trying to do games where shooting is not the main thing.”

I personally feel this is a question that will further fuel debate over Beyond moreso than it did when Heavy Rain launched. It feels less like a game at many points but overall, I still enjoyed absorbing it as a passive viewer. That’s a problem though, consider many gamers buy titles to feel like an active participant.

On what side of the fence do you sit?

Elsewhere, Cage told me in my recent interview that he’s trying to show the world that games can have greater artistic merit than just more guns to shoot, that games shouldn’t just be defined by action and violence. Check out what he told me here.

The game’s out now in the states and across Europe on Friday.

Thanks Dragon.



  1. Xbone

    Game? Its an interactive movie. In my book, it does not count as a game (same goes for HR).

    #1 12 months ago
  2. ShiiRo

    The problem I have with this criticism is who it’s mostly aimed at. The criticism often seems directly aimed at the games he makes and others are let off the hook. Game journalists had no problem rallying around The Walking Dead and showering it with “GAME” of the Year awards, yet Beyond has more traditional “game” elements that TWD. TWD is much closer to a virtual version of a Choose Your Own Adventure book than Beyond or Heavy Rain.

    #2 12 months ago
  3. redwood

    I ‘ll be getting this regardless of the reviews.

    #3 12 months ago
  4. Blackened Halo

    “Some people wish that games would always stay what they were in the past 30 years, just with more polygons. No one should be allowed to define what a video game is or should be; no one has this power.”

    Yes Beyond Two Souls (as well as Heavy Rain) is a great improvement of videogames, indeed. A man just sit on his couch watching one cutscene after the other cutscene, from time to time just push some QTE and thats all. Really fantastic ….

    …Yes Mr. Cage! This is an awesome improvement to how to play videogames. Please dont call it a video game. It is just an interactive movie …

    #4 12 months ago
  5. tezzer1985

    @1 so what was walking dead?

    If I’m going to be honest I think game journalism is in trouble. I agree that no one has the right to label something a game or not.

    Journalist complain about lack of new IP, and fan boys, yet they do everything in there power to fuel fan boys, with certain headlines. They only celebrate new IP if it’s the same as what came before but a bit different i.e Last of Us/Titanfall

    I personally feel cage is right, and game journalism is at a all time low. Games are dumbed down and so as journalism.

    #5 12 months ago
  6. _LarZen_

    Personally I think the “problem” is that to many reviewing games like these (and the average gamer out there) have to put everything in categories and have to compare it to other games.

    The beautiful thing about games is that it can be whatever the developers wants. It don’t have to be X or A.

    Just look at Dear Esther. A game with just the goal to walk from A to B on a island while a pleasant voice talks. It’s a wonderful experience and something we need more of.

    It’s not like these different games are a threat to all the other games out there. It’s just one more experience one can get from games.

    #6 12 months ago
  7. Ireland Michael

    If this isn’t a game, neither is The Walking Dead. And nobody’s going to tell me The Walking Dead isn’t a game.

    Heck, if this isn’t a game, then neither is every point and click adventure title ever released either. What’s the difference? Beyond has a lot more direct control than previous games like this have anyway – you do have to actually move around and interact with stuff directly to progress.

    Knowing this, its easy to tell whose actually playing and whose opinion is based entirely on bias.

    Not every game has to be a points challenge / competitive game. Gaming has grown enough at this point that it can accommodate more than just violence and twitch responses.

    #7 12 months ago
  8. DrDamn

    Where did he say it was an “improvement of videogames” isn’t he just stating it is a valid part of video gaming? I didn’t particularly enjoy the demo but I can see why some would really like it, and it is a game.

    #8 12 months ago
  9. Mike W

    I said this in another thread:

    “You have to give it up to David Cage, his games are always going to challenge reviewers especially the ones that are always screaming out they want new experiences besides COD and other action games.
    This game (just like Heavy Rain) proved (again) the hypocrisy that is plaguing this industry.”

    This is why I tried to preach the word for people not to listen to reviewers. And some of you guys bring up a good point about the walking dead, that game plays exactly like Heavy Rain and yet was praised by the media, but something that is made by David cage is ridiculed?

    #9 12 months ago
  10. ShiiRo

    @8 Exactly! Telltale is about to release their new game, The Wolf Among Us, later this week. Let’s see if it’s met with the same criticisms that Beyond has been met with or if it’ll receive a pass like The Walking Dead.

    #10 12 months ago
  11. YoungZer0

    @1: The fact that’s interactive means it’s a game.

    @7: Word.

    #11 12 months ago
  12. Ireland Michael

    @10 With most people, its just confirmation bias running rampant. They have an issue with what David Cage is saying because its David Cage saying it.

    If it was a different game (The Walking Dead, for instance) that confrontational dismissal would disappear completely, and the points they’re criticising now would be things they would suddenly start defending.

    @11 “The fact that it’s interactive means it’s a game.”

    ^ This.

    #12 12 months ago
  13. Mike W


    Good point, if we don’t, it just proves more of the hypocrisy in game journalism. In any case, no type of media can be taken seriously, because it’s just other people’s opinion.

    #13 12 months ago
  14. monkeygourmet

    Notice how he didn’t use one of those hentai games where you rub a girls tits to see if she’s a witch in his examples of ‘games’…

    Ultimatly, if I had to demo or define a ‘game’ to someone who had never played one, ‘beyond’ would be far down my list.

    One thing it does point out though, are once again, we can see review scores are broken.

    He would fair better with his titles if they aren’t compared to other games. But, that in itself shows you he has a product that is hard to define and begs the question ‘Is this a game?’

    #14 12 months ago
  15. schnide

    “The fact that’s interactive means it’s a game.”

    Utter crap. An element of challenge and win/lose conditions would like a word with you.

    #15 12 months ago
  16. Dave Cook

    @15 +1

    Google Maps is interactive. Is that a game?

    #16 12 months ago
  17. Ireland Michael

    @15, 16, Don’t you guys think you’re taking his comment just a tad out of context?

    I *could* turn Google Maps into a game if I wanted to.

    Find the City.
    Find the Mountain.

    There you go, I just created two games out of Google Maps.

    It’s an interactive experience with goals to “win” or complete. That’s the definition of a video game.

    There were countless point and click adventures in the 90s where it was impossible to reach a “lose” state? Does that mean they’re not games?

    #17 12 months ago
  18. absolutezero

    We keep striving for the industry to “grow up” and “mature” but we are still stuck with the most reductionist ideas as to what gaming is as a whole.

    Anytime something different turns up (even if it fails as an experiement) somehow its seen as a direct threat to the rest of the established genres.

    I may hate David Cage for his pretensions and putting himself in his games to impart gameplay tuition but video gaming would be a far more boring place without him.

    I dunno I just hope that games have more to them than simply game over screens and avoiding being dead.

    #18 12 months ago
  19. monkeygourmet


    But this isn’t that ‘different’ compared to the many CD ROM titles that were available in the 90′s.

    Apart from the production values and getting big name actors, it’s largely the same as an interactive DVD game.

    There are many examples of games that offer thoughtful dialog / settings AND gameplay. Saying that, alot of the reviewers have stated that his writing is pretty awful and soap opera like, so it sounds like he’s even failed in that aspect too (although I’ll have to wait till I play it for a full playthrough.)

    I think Last of Us is a good example of what can be achieved in this area. Even though it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, it showed you could have a mature(ish) story AND gameplay. It also looked better than Cage’s effort and remained pretty interactive throughout.

    Cage continually makes these style of games and even ‘dumbing’ them down to some extent, then complaining people don’t get it or are trying to constrain him…

    He even got up on stage at Sony’s event and talked about un-parrelled emotion he can give to titles on the PS4, yet his stories are continually average to many people.

    No amount of power and technology will help you become a good story teller.

    #19 12 months ago
  20. Daniel_N7

    I don’t even understand why this is a debate in the first place. I agree with David Cage and I think there is a rising prejudice towards his work from people who become vocal with hate instead of moving on to play the games they like to play, whatever those are.

    It’s silly because, in a way, David Cage’s work is a reinvention of the point and click adventure that was so popular in the nineties. He has been exploring new interface solutions to engage the player but his titles share the kind of narrative progression, mystery elements and puzzle solving that were the fabric of those early games.

    I am happy however to see that Beyond Two Souls is receiving many positive reviews and that there is a big community of gamers that understands, supports and enjoys it.

    #20 12 months ago
  21. absolutezero

    You’ve never played a DVD game if you think its even slightly similar.

    The quality of what he achieved should not have any baring on what hes saying here though. Look at the reaction A Machine for Pigs got from the Pewdiepie watching Amnesia children. They more or less thought it was the Goddamn anti-Christ.

    So a MUD or a graphical adventure like the earliest BBC Micro games are fine but update those concepts and suddenly its a direct threat and the art games are coming to kill gaming.

    #21 12 months ago
  22. ShiiRo

    So, what exactly is the criteria that must be met to be considered a game? We always hear about what isn’t a game but i’ve never seen someone actually explain what qualities are needed in or for something to be a game.

    #22 12 months ago
  23. absolutezero

    Even more I’ve never actually seen the point in the need for a definition in the first place. What does it bring other than limitations?

    Say we go with it and state that Quantic Dream’s titles are not games in the traditional sense of the word. So what? Does that mean you can’t enjoy them? Does that mean that they should not be running on consoles or available on download services?

    Extradite them onto their own containment devices incase they infect others with non-game-itis?

    #23 12 months ago
  24. Mike W


    I believe Heavy Rain received the same criticism. I guess what upsets me the most is that the Walking Dead is very similar to what David Cage is doing with his two titles, but one game is praise and actually received a game of the year award and the others are scrutinize because David Cage name is associated with them.

    This is why gaming journalism is a fucking joke and none of their opinions can be taken seriously.

    #24 12 months ago
  25. absolutezero

    The difference is that David Cage put himself front and center in the marketing of all three of his big games. He put himself in Fahrenheit as an actual game model explaining his grand idea for the game.

    That and we are being told of all the emotions and story-telling and if you’ve played a Cage title then you know that very rarely do those two things actually live up to what he talks. This makes people go on the offensive more than anything else, the need to take someone down a notch. Puncturing egos.

    The Walking Dead did have alot of the same beats as a Quantic title but it had superb voice acting and a brilliant narrative and script.

    #25 12 months ago
  26. TheBlackHole

    Even in the face of genuine criticism he can’t help but blame other people for failing to accept his genius.

    god I hate his arrogant, self-inflated attitude.

    “No one should be allowed to define what a video game is or should be; no one has this power.”

    Correct David, but EVERYONE has the right to tell you that your ‘game’ is not very good, as a game, film, or interactive experience.

    #26 12 months ago
  27. Mike W


    Interesting, so is this game being reviewed for what it is or is it being reviewed because some reviewers dislike the tactics of David Cage?

    Journalists are supposed to be unbiased right?

    #27 12 months ago
  28. TheBlackHole


    you could argue the opposite – Is this game being reviewed for what it is, or based on how much people love the work of David Cage?

    #28 12 months ago
  29. Mike W


    Yea true…..

    #29 12 months ago
  30. absolutezero

    If you are right and Cage’s personality and position in the marketing of his game has had a direct influence on the reviews then I am very interested to see what happens with Godus.

    Very interested indeed.

    #30 12 months ago
  31. Mike W


    I’m interested to see the response Telltale next game will get seeing how both games are similar.

    #31 12 months ago
  32. Daniel_N7

    @22 Exactly. I think that we need to have an open mind when it comes to the definition of video games. Tetris is a game. The Last of Us is a game. But are they even the same thing? The diversity of what falls under the category of gaming includes a very wide range of creations and if you try to narrow it down you are impoverishing the gaming medium as a whole.

    @24 Agree. This entire debate is the expression of a double standard and The Walking Dead’s wide and unquestioned acceptance (deserved btw) is proof of that.

    #32 12 months ago
  33. absolutezero

    Remember that Telltale games did get pretty poor reviews and took alot of flack before The Walking Dead.

    Plus all of them are horribly similar in structure, if they keep the same level of writing and acting then I don’t see why it won’t review just as well as The Walking Dead.

    #33 12 months ago
  34. Johnnymaxx

    I will just say this one thing, seeing that most of the people over here already stated what I wanted:

    Untill today, Full Throttle is one of the best games I have ever played and it is the same for a lot of my friends and family, as for a lot of respected game reviewers out there. In Full Throttle you also couldn’t die or fail and you could play the game quite easily just by clicking the screen without ever having to think about it, because the game would allow you to interact with only certain pieces of the set and, like said before, you couldn’t fail.

    Same goes for a lot of other points and clicks out there. Same goes for every Telltale Games so far (Sam and Max series are amazing and they always get good reviews and The Walking Dead, well, even the industry gave him the Game of the Year award).

    So I really don’t understand all this bashing that Beyond is suffering. Specially because we all know what Heavy Rain was and we all knew it would be around the same thing.

    Right now, I’m playing Beyond and I’m really in to it. I was only a few desapointed by seeing that my options doesn’t hurt the overall ending of each scene in a very meaningful way. But come on, in life sometimes it happens also… it is what people call “destiny”, right? Again, remember The Walking Dead. You had all that moral choices and a lot of them changed the way story was told, but it was all going to end in the same place. Everyone got the same ending. In a way of seeing things, none of your options made any difference since the ending is all the same.

    This is a problem that Beyond won’t have, as we already know we will have different endings. This is enough for me to consider Beyond a must buy.

    Well… sorry for the wall of text… I was thinking in writing just a little bit and got carried over it. :)

    #34 12 months ago
  35. monkeygourmet

    I think @AZ summed up alot of the difficulties Cage faces with this:

    “That and we are being told of all the emotions and story-telling and if you’ve played a Cage title then you know that very rarely do those two things actually live up to what he talks. This makes people go on the offensive more than anything else, the need to take someone down a notch. Puncturing egos.”

    It’s the ‘Molyneux’ syndrome. Cage push’s himself out of the realms of mere videogames in his interviews and almost sets himself apart from other games / developers with what he is trying to achieve, then, when the dust settles and the scores come rolling in, he suddenly wants inclusion again.

    Peter Molyneux has a similar approach in some respects and creates much the same type of feedback.

    I would prefer it if Cage just shut up after the reviews settle rather than take things personally when he himself must of understood he was ‘out on a limb’ with a title like this.

    It only draws more attention to your product for better or worse, although, all publicity is good publicity as they say.

    #35 12 months ago
  36. pcbros

    Is this all because of the mixed scores? If it received a score, doesn’t that mean they consider it a game?

    Some just didn’t like it so much…

    #36 12 months ago
  37. Joe Musashi

    @11 and 16: To a degree. A risk/reward dynamic generally brings game-like qualities to something.

    Overall, I agree with the article’s sentiment which harks back to something I mentioned yesterday: categorising and pigeon-holing. When something doesn’t quite fit it baffles and frustrates some people.

    In turn the constant and short-sighted desire to always be comparing something with something else as opposed to being able to review something on its own merits does a disservice to games that don’t fit into a standard template. Trying to pass off these games as something like a Dragon’s Lair / Space Ace game really shows the critic’s need to fall onto the lazy crutches of categorising, labelling and comparisons rather than apply some proper thought (or, dare I suggest it, full first-hand experience of the product they’re reviewing).

    Pretending someone is trying to cover up for ‘a few bad reviews’ is just silly and typical knee-jerk responsiveness to something without applying proper consideration and context.

    That said, a bad game is a bad game is a bad game. It’s bad at 60FPS. It’s bad with next-gen textures. It’s bad with dedicated servers. It’s bad with the power of the cloud. It’s bad with motion control. It’s bad if it’s exclusive to one platform. None of those qualities are silver bullets.

    For all of the above, it’s important that some developers are trying to do something different and that doesn’t follow standard template. It’s important for the passtime to progress and evolve for reasons more profound than mere capitalism. If you asked me whether I’d buy a David Cage game or a David Jaffe game, I know what answer I’d give.


    #37 12 months ago
  38. Mus42

    The Emperors new game
    There is no game

    #38 12 months ago
  39. monkeygourmet


    I agree with your statement:

    “It’s important that some developers are trying to do something different”,

    but I hardly think it applies to this game as much of some of Cage’s earlier efforts which were new and fresh at the time.

    A new story, yes, but not from a gameplay perspective.

    #39 12 months ago
  40. Joe Musashi

    That’s a truncated version of my statement. My actual statement was:

    “it’s important that some developers are trying to do something different and that doesn’t follow standard template.”

    As for new gameplay, I’ve yet to get any first hand experience with Beyond. But from the feedback I’ve read in the more detailed reviews, there are notable gameplay differences between Heavy Rain and Beyond.

    Obviously, if the snow textures are PS2 standard then none of the above matters.


    #40 12 months ago
  41. monkeygourmet


    “As for new gameplay, I’ve yet to get any first hand experience with Beyond. But from the feedback I’ve read in the more detailed reviews, there are notable gameplay differences between Heavy Rain and Beyond.”

    But Cage unfortunalty is trapped in his usual position i.e. ‘movie vision’ and ‘what is a game anyway?’.

    All i’m saying is, he doesn’t do himself any favours. If he didn’t want to keep going over this ground, maybe he could mention more from a gameplay perspective sometimes. A lot of his focus is on presentation and emotion, and a lot of the times he doesn’t even nail that…

    As much as he wants to break new ground, he’s not the only one who is pushing the boundaries of what we concieve a ‘game’ to be. Many would say other people have been more succesful than him in making people think outside the box of what they define as a videogame.

    It’s very easy to hide an average product by just saying: “People don’t get it, or it fustrates people”.

    #41 12 months ago
  42. jon_

    Nevertheless I enjoyed the game and the “travel” from the begging to the end was very enjoyable and emotional (and despite the forced ending) I think that David Cage need to stop believing that he is the “missing link” as a developer.

    #42 12 months ago
  43. zoopdeloop

    i think the problem lies with the production value and final price.If Cage and Sony want to follow this “game” template they should lower both.Make these experiences downloadable titles (like most indies).
    They’re asking too much for an interactive experience one can have within a single day and probably never again (since there’s no challenge going over it)
    If Cage wants high production values in his games (just so they look real) he also has to try harder in the gameplay department to justify these prices

    #43 12 months ago
  44. Joe Musashi

    @42 I don’t think any ‘hiding’ is going on – and it’s both accusatory and disingenious to imply it is. That’s a convenient cop out to argue that your disagreement of that viewpoint is more valid because it’s more genuine.

    Like I say, I’ve not played the game but my expectation is that its focus is on narrative and character more than / at the expense of other elements. Those expectations have been set by quotes from David Cage and from Quantic Dreams’ earlier portfolio.

    What is clear, to me, is that he believe in what he says and the games he’s made shows it. He’s not claimed you’re going to fall in love with a game in some meaningful level because your character has a pet dog, for example.

    I’m happy to let David Cage be ‘trapped’ in what he’s doing. What he is doing interests me and, whether he and Quantric Dream succeed in their efforts, they open a door and discussion as to a possible direction games can go. That takes more gumption and drive than making some sequel to an FPS.

    @44 I think you raise a great point. If this were some pixellated Indie game then would it be treated the same way? For example, To The Moon was a remarkable achievement. Its level of interaction was considerably less than most games, but its writing and the overall experience were extremely gratifying. I can’t recall any other game I shed a tear at. I still consider it a game. Perhaps a Heavy Rain or Beyond de-make would be a telling endeavour.


    #44 12 months ago
  45. ThinkingGamers

    I can’t help but feel like people are being sidetracked into thinking the main cause of sub-par reviews were the result of the game “not being a game” since this article is about Cage discussing the concept of labeling.

    The majority of reviews I’ve read that didn’t swoon over Beyond: Two Souls appeared more concerned over the issue of not being able to be as immersed when making their choices in the story (with some comparisons being made to Heavy Rain which in term seems like a proper and fair comparison compared to other titles) or finding the story itself and/or writing behind it to be sub-par underneath all the graphical goodness.

    Looking at the various review roundups on this site, Joystiq’s review compilation, etc seem to point to that route when it comes to a lack of favor.

    Which in turn would be consistant with explaining away why a similar ineractive story game such as The Walking Dead or others long before with limited player input could garner a majority of positive reviews. Not so much a need for gameplay as it is the ability for the medium to immerse and entertain the gamer in question.

    #45 12 months ago
  46. ChandlerL

    Moving Mr. Cage’s work to a new interface such as XBox One’s guaranteed Kinect 2 device could be an interesting path to his type of game. If you had to actually make the motion of grabbing a glass to drink or punching the air to engage an enemy.

    If I enjoy something, I do it as part of my allocation of recreational time. I feel like I’m “playing” Quantum Dream’s stuff. I feel like I’m “having fun.” I don’t kid myself and say it’s work. So it’s recreation. Doing what? Playing something? Sure, a game, because I don’t know what else to call it. Why does it matter?

    Folks, I feel like we’re splitting hairs here and I’m not sure why. My guess is that people that don’t like this sort of title are going to “bad -mouth it” in various fashions. Shunning it, excluding it, labeling it negatively… applying the scarlet letter. It’s all from a very old bag of tricks.

    Perhaps the better question to ask is why it’s important for this type of title not to be made. Perhaps we should get to the root of what some think the problem is. Is this a growing epidemic that will negatively affect the development of Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Dragon Age, Minecraft, League of Legends, and Amnesia?

    If it is, I may join you. If it isn’t…

    #46 12 months ago
  47. Ireland Michael

    @41 “Obviously, if the snow textures are PS2 standard then none of the above matters.”


    I’m sorry, just… wow, that is a hundred times funnier to me than it really should be. Trying to stop myself from dying of laughter over here.

    #47 12 months ago
  48. MadFlavour

    David Cage is a fucking dildo.

    #48 12 months ago
  49. monkeygourmet


    Is there any other kind?

    #49 12 months ago
  50. Phoenixblight

    Played and beaten the game and all I can is it is utter crap. FOr a game that has only story to push the player it really has nothing. The story is horrible just think the second half of Indigo where the protagonist dies then you see robots and aliens now put Ellen Page and William Dafoe and stretch that across an entire game. I am pretty much in agreement with:

    I atleast enjoyed Heavy Rain’s story though disliked the amount of QTe and lack of gameplay but this game wow, you want people pay how much for this? Thankfully all I lost is 2$ and 7 hours of my life.

    David Cage needs to be removed. He is now officially worse than Molyneux.

    #50 12 months ago
  51. absolutezero

    ” just think the second half of Indigo where the protagonist dies then you see robots and aliens now put Ellen Page and William Dafoe and stretch that across an entire game.”



    #51 12 months ago
  52. monkeygourmet


    Thanks, you have helped me stick with renting this.

    #52 12 months ago
  53. Phoenixblight


    There is no DBZ style fighting and there is a lot of shower,dating and awkward teenage angst parts, a lot more than any previous Quantum games.


    I would rent it anyways because this game is getting very polarised reviews and the worst possible thing you can do is chuck 60$ to a game you will hate especially with the little to no replayability besides the endings.

    #53 12 months ago
  54. absolutezero

    This is very important, does it stick with the usable toilets?

    Pretty disappointed that theres no over the top fights towards the end though, at least theres no awful stealth sections right?

    I have a kind of warped relationship with David Cage games, its like watching a slow motion car crash and taking a sick pleasure in it. Im depraved, the worse it gets the more I enjoy it.

    #54 12 months ago
  55. Phoenixblight


    No they removed those but you can go around some environments and break and throw things though it only works once.

    THere is a lot of stealth sections far more than previous games which end up with you fighting with the camera or the character.

    #55 12 months ago

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