Levine: The industry has too many people “jumping into deals with some big movie director”

By Stephany Nunneley, Wednesday, 6 October 2010 18:40 GMT

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Irrational Games’ Ken Levine has said after BioShock was released he was presented with an opportunity to co-develop a game with a film director, which he turned down because he didn’t want to share the title of creative lead.

The industry has “too  many people star-struck of the movie world”

Speaking with Develop, Levine said he doesn’t see why a game developer would want to share such a title with a film director, and viceversa.

“I was offered the chance to make a game with a film director. A very talented film director,” he said. “[The Hollywood execs said] they really liked what I was doing and wanted to share it – that this project with creative leads from both game and film – was going to be amazing.

“My feeling is, why? Why would any game designer want to do that? What’s the point of having two creative leads together, and why would I want a film director to help me make a game, any more than they would want me to help out with their films?

“I think there’ a sense in the entertainment fields that videogames are seen as the junior varsity. There’s this feeling of ‘oh one day you can come up to our league’.  And of course film directors can jump through the game industry’s open doors. Guillermo del Toro – who by the way is an amazing film director – recently signed a deal with THQ to make videogames.

“And I’m thinking… he’s never made a videogame. Maybe he’s got a genius for it. But games are really, really hard to make well. In our industry there’s too many people star-struck of the movie world, jumping into deals with some big movie director just because they’re big film directors.”

“I could have you 800 lines of dialogue tomorrow”

Levine also believes the game industry is a bit obsessed with narrative content and tons of cut-scenes instead of gameplay telling the story, which is why he doesn’t like to include cut-scenes in his games.

“I think my games fall into this interesting space between simulation and scripted elements,” he said. “Our narratives are quite unique, but I can definitely say the story isn’t more important to us than the game.

“The two mediums are of completely different languages. It’s why I don’t do cut-scenes. Going down that road is dangerous; the focus is the play. I love it when developers say ‘in our game we have 800 lines of dialogue’. I mean, who fucking cares? That’s a standard? ‘We have 600 hours of cut-scenes’. So what? As a writer, bulk is the easy part.

“Making content is easy. But leaving enough out, looking at everything as an interactive piece, that’s the real ambition.”

Irrational’s next project, BioShock Infinite is slated for 2012 on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.

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