gareth noyce

gareth noyce

Okay, so, my name is Gareth Noyce. I'm 39 years old. I was born in Southampton on the south coast of England, where I grew up and spent most of my life. I'm currently living in Helsinki in Finland.

I started in the games industry -- it was either 2002 or 2003. I'm not 100 percent sure. I started in test, and then moved into design, worked on one project, went up into management fairly quickly and started doing a production role in what was at the time the largest independent studio in the UK. I worked there for a couple of years both in the Portsmouth south coast office and in their London office before leaving to set up a games-industry consultancy company with a good friend of mine. We did that for a number of years where we were basically providing, like, production-management services, development programming, all sorts of skills for AAA studios in and around the UK, the United States, and Canada.

That later rolled into becoming Ruffian Games Studio, which is still alive and well and based in Dundee in Scotland. Worked there for number of years with those guys and basically came to Finland originally because I was interested in starting up a satellite for Ruffian to look at doing, like, mobile games. But I lost some of the investment backing that I had, so I ended up staying in Finland and I'm currently working on my own PC/console title which should hopefully be out next year.

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Tell me why you call your company "Triple Eh?" [Laughs.]

It's not "AAA." It's "eh," in English that's, “Eh?" as in a question. You know, I don't understand it, I'll go, "Eh?"

Maybe it's an American English thing, but "eh?" can also be read as though you're semi-disgusted or shrugging.

No, it's English slang basically. Obviously it doesn't come across in the URL of the website, but it's, "Eh?" as in: "Shrug your shoulders, what are you talking about, whaddaya mean?"

So there's a little bit of an overlap there. Why do you associate shrugging your shoulders with --

More of the question mark. It's more me pointedly laughing at the whole AAA thing. It's sarcastic humor more than anything.

What are you laughing at?

Eh, I don't know. AAA can take itself too seriously sometimes. We're in an entertainment industry, we're supposed to be having a bit of fun, but when projects and marketing budgets are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, people lose their sense of humor really fucking quickly. [Laughs.]

[Laughs.]

So, I guess, you know now I'm not quite in that space and I'm basically doing things for myself. You could almost say one of my kind of goals when I'm working on games right now is: "Does that amuse me? Does that entertain me? Does that make me smile?" That kind of started with the company's name. [Laughs.] I laugh at my own jokes more than anyone else, so, Triple Eh? made me laugh, and no one had it. The domain was free. It says as much about me as it does about anything else.

So, yeah, I grabbed and it kind of suits where I am right now.

How do you perceive the big-budget space as taking itself too seriously?

It manifests in a lot of different ways. I mean, I'm trying to come up with concrete examples without dropping other projects in which is a little bit difficult. [Laughs.] But there's always something funny that comes up with a game mechanic. There's always something like you're building a level or you're testing out some new thing in the build and there's always some joker in the studio who says, "Oh, you could do that with that." And it makes everyone laugh and everyone kind of wants to do it, but you know it's not gonna get through ge-ops and you know that, you know, if -- obviously I primarily work with British developers, and some of our humor doesn't come across to your fine countrymen quite as well.

I'm detecting more sarcasm there. [Laughs.]

Well, yeah. No. Sometimes just some of the stuff we do goes a little bit too far for American tastes. And nearly all of the games, with the exception of the Fable franchise I've worked on have been Americanized. They have to be set in America for that market. That's the demographic they're going for.

But a lot of people have kittens at the mere suggestion of doing something a little off-piste about it. That for me is not cool. I've never really liked that. I've always tried to squeeze funny stuff in. Some games it's easier than others. You know, I'm sure the Alien: Isolation dudes were limited to only putting jokes in that were relevant to the Alien sort of space. [Laughs.] You can't just stick anything in there.

But, you know, there's other stuff that could really just do with having a proper sense of humor. And games can be too dry. They don't laugh at themselves nearly enough.

It's all: This is serious shit, we're computer games. And it's like, "No, you're not, man. You're just moving little sprites across a screen. We don't need to take everything like it's the end of the world.”

Do you feel any portion of the game audience also takes things too seriously?

[Laughs.] Yeah! Definitely. Obviously. That's one of the strengths of gamers. You know, if I lose at Pro Evolution Soccer, I'm not gonna be laughing. I'm gonna be unhappy. I take that stuff seriously. Of course I do. It's a competitive game.

Do some people take stuff -- stuff like Gamergate and some of the other stuff that's been going around in the industry, yeah, those people are taking the wrong things very, very seriously. And that's a massive negative when that happens. [Sighs.] So, yeah, it's the same as anything, really. There's people who take Star Trek too seriously. I've met them down at the pub, and if you say the wrong thing about the nacelles or you get the wrong hyphen letter on the Starship Enterprise, they're not happy bunnies. Yeah. Maybe we've got an industry that incites a lot more passion in people because if you make a big game and someone's invested a) a bunch of time in that but b) also the financial aspect of it, it can take over a large portion of their lives. You know, you only have to look at what's going right now with the Dota international. Those boys take Dota very, very seriously and, you know, they're earning six or seven million dollars for taking it seriously, so, you know, this is the industry. You can't kind of say that that's a bad thing, really. We are trying to grow it in many ways to be this kind of serious pastime for professional people.

Do you feel like that super-seriousness and rage and anger and vitriol -- does that seem to be like a distinctly American thing around videogames?

[Pause.]

You wouldn't be insulting me, so it's fine.

Oh, don't worry, I'm not afraid of doing that.

[Laughs.]

I would say no. I would say there's a maturity aspect of it because obviously it is -- a game like Halo, most of those guys are still, like, under 15. Or sorry, COD would probably be a better example. I'm not actually been on with Halo for a while. But, you know, there's people using homophobic and racist and sexist slurs because they don't understand the seriousness of it. And also if you get people where English isn't their first tongue, they're very inclined to use sexual swearing and those kind of homophobic slurs because, again, they don't really know the history of the words. And most of them are quite young.

But I would say, also, look at the world in which we're living right now. Politics, there's a big right-wing uprising in most of the world. Everyone's, you know, job prospects are looking bleak. Wage suppression is a thing. We're in a recession that's got no real hope of coming out of anytime soon.

You know, life is grim for a lot of people. And that's shown in all sorts of ways right now. Gaming is not alone in having a lot of complete nutjobs shouting and screaming really bad stuff. We're not educating these people out of it. We're not stopping anyone complaining about just taking it out on immigrants when you haven't got the facts about what's actually going on. We're not really doing anything about this upswirl of hatred that's pervading society as a whole. The fact it's manifested online is because it's manifesting everywhere.

Yeah. [Laughs.] Just. All the stuff about Donald Trump last night --

Yeah, I saw that this morning. Last night for you.

I'm not really been keeping up with it, the GOP runnings, but this morning was just like, "Holy shit, man." And he's a case in point. Stuff just falls out of that dude's mouth and he doesn't care.

He sort of reminds me a 13-year-old boy whose uncle just taught him a sort-of bad word and he thinks he's really cool.

Yeah. [Laughs.] Some of this stuff is like -- if I caught my kids online shouting, whatever, a homophobic slur or a racist slur like that, they'd get banned. It's straight as simple as I have to punish them and I have to educate them that this sort of language isn't right. If my kids' politics are completely absurd and have no basis in what is actually going on with the world, then I have to educate them and provide them with some information about that, "Look: Your views are wrong for these reasons."

And we have to take responsibility for this. And it's not just a game-developer problem. Obviously we have to do more within our products. But everyone has to sort this problem out. Just because we've had loads of progress with things like gay rights or same-sex marriage -- this fight isn't over. This fight goes on forever because there's always another problem after it. There's always people who are just badly educated who got a shit world view that isn't actually compatible with normal, decent human beings.

And if Twitter gives them a way that they can shout and scream over the internet to loads of their little shit followers, then they're gonna do it because they're in the minority and they're desperate to be heard.

Do you feel that the people who are shouting about politics, is there anything that seems to be different about them than the people who are shouting about videogames?

I don't know. If you squint, they kinda start looking the same to me.

[Laughs.]

We had a party in the UK called Ukip, and it's basically, like, stick a bunch of neo-Nazis into a room along with every old person who's afraid that some immigrant from India's gonna open a shop down the road from them and they don't like it. I mean, all of the most backward kind of 1960's sort of stereotypes of, like, a right-wing position that you could have. And this party basically just sucked them all up. And the media was completely complicit in just feeding this story that the country's going to shit because of immigration, the country's going to shit because of all these people on welfare, the people's going to shit because of this and that. And like, any just partial look at the facts shows that that is not true.

That the UK has got one of the least amounts of immigration in Europe. That our welfare system is not massively out of control. The reason that, you know, they've got no job and their wages are going down is because no one's paying money for factory workers anymore. All these jobs are disappearing, there's hardly any investment. Education is now locked out so people are leaving with shitloads of debt. There's a million reasons why things are wrong and it's not immigration.

But the way that they spit out their rhetoric and the way that they shout and scream about this stuff, if you start squinting at it, it just looks like some raging lunatic on Facebook or Twitter. It's hard to actually see a difference. It all starts blurring into this, like, stream of bullshit that you end up blocking and going, "Oh, go away."

Fine line between a tinfoil hat and speaking the truth.

Yeah, I mean, I don't know. We live in an age where you've got access to pretty much all of human knowledge and you can pretty much find real-time statistics on everything that's going on straight from the horse's mouth, be it a government agency, the schools, or whatever it is you want to look for. And yet people will just listen to whatever the fuck is pushed down their throat by, like, newspapers. It's fucking ridiculous to me.

You can actually find these things out for yourself if you can be arsed.

Well, in videogames, some legitimate problems just can’t be read about or written about anywhere. Like, there are a lot of human rights and labor issues in videogames, but due to where the media culture’s at and NDA’s among workers, all people can really read about is, like, crunch.

I think for the large part stuff's definitely improved. I never really worked in the industry when it was in its worst.

When was that?

Well, I think at the start in the '80s and early '90s. It's very well-documented. People did stuff for very little pay or their royalties were withheld or they had bad dealsor the deals were just thrown up and ignored, publishers would withhold milestone payments to make a company go bankrupt so they could get the IP. All sorts of stuff. And those stories are real. I've met way too many people who've confirmed, you know, this happened, this happened. Some really big publishers that are still around today are multiple, multiple stories of them just refusing milestone payments and saying, "Fuck it, sue us because you can't afford to sue us and there's nothing you can do, basically." Or trying to run a studio into the ground just so they don't have to pay. And that stuff wasn't happening all that long ago. I haven't heard stories like that for a while.

I interviewed Rebecca Heineman who has worked on -- pretty much if you've been playing games since the '80s, you've played at least one game that she made.

Yeah.

And she was telling me this story about 3DO Doom, because she posted all the assets up on Github with this note that was just like, "This game is a piece of shit. If you want to talk to me about it, happy to have a discussion about it. But here it is if you want it!" So I can contacted her, she told me nobody had contacted her about it, and she told me this story about 3DO Doom, and I remember this because I was just transcribing this -- she said the guy who bought the rights from id basically got another company to go ahead and work on it with no intention of paying. And then they did work on it for a while. But how does that actually happen?
For me as a freelancer, I've never had that happen and I don't understand how a team of people --

You spoke to Sam Barlow. He explained to you quite a lot about the process of pitching for a game, if I remember rightly, going through his interview. He also explained that you end up working on a demo that's part of the process for a period of time. We worked on a demo for Streets of Rage, which might be four to six weeks' work. But it's probably more like eight to 10 people. It may be 12. That's certainly a significant investment. You put all the wages in for that month, that's not a free demo. We're already gonna start spending thousands on that.

Now, you give that to the publisher as an early thing and they're like, "Oh yeah, we quite like that, but we're gonna have a meeting our bosses. Can you maybe do this and that to the demo?" And all of a sudden you end up working for another month or two months on this demo. And it's this kind of drip-feed process where you're on the hook. You think you've got the publisher on the hook, but really _you're_on the hook because they're just trying to get a little bit more work out of you, a little bit more work out of you. And they're not necessarily doing it for a bad reason. They're doing it because they want -- or you hope they're doing it -- because they want to tip their bosses over and sign this because they can see what you can see in it and this is going to be a good game.

But, you know, it's not uncommon to work on a project for three, four months and nothing comes of it. I can think of, like, three where I spent that amount of time on, and I can think of one that was going for a long, long time and it was just an internal project with an internal burn rate.

So if you get a project like Doom, and Doom is like the biggest game of that couple of years -- the 3DO port wasn't straightaway -- but everyone knew what the hell Doom was. There's not some studio on this planet that's not gonna think, "Hey, if we can just prove that we can get this running on 3DO, then, shit, we're gonna get royalties off of Doom, which is gonna be like the biggest selling thing on the biggest platform of all time because Trip Hawkins, man."

You know, people will fall over themselves to get into that situation. That company was just laughing.

This isn't up yet, either, but I did interview someone who worked in Hollywood, then worked at 3DO for two years as an art director, and then after that experience went right back to working in Hollywood.

The shock that they're about.

I was reading this note from Trip Hawkins to GamePro back in the '90s where he is antagonizing GamePro saying, like, "How dare you run a bad review. Who do you think your audience is? If you think your audience is the readers, then, blah blah blah blah."
And I just tweeted out an excerpt from it to parse whether anyone could corroborate it as true and also because I had never heard of it. I lived through this stuff and certainly read the magazine in that era, but I guess my question is just: How do there get to be such big egos in the videogame space?

Think of it this way. I worked outside of the games industry for a fair number -- a few years. Like, six, seven years. I can't remember the timeline. I'm getting old.

So, I had a career outside of games and being completely an arrogant shit, there was a lot of time when I was working outside of games where I felt I was like one of the three most intelligent people in the room.

And I went to the games industry and holy shit I never felt like that because there's some serious alpha brains in the games industry and there's people who just know they're shit-hot. It's like, they've gone through school and no one could do what they did and they went through university and they got a first, or distinction or whatever it is wherever they've gone because they're shit-hot. They do modeling better than anyone else in the company because they're the top modeler in the company. Or they're the best coder that they've ever met.

And none of them are, like, arrogant and none of them say that. But no one is unsure of what their place is and what their technical ability is because you're under a lot of pressure to perform and do work to a tight deadline in -- less so now, but consoles and, you know, old computers are quite confined spaces -- so, you're constantly banging against some wall there. You're on the cutting edge here of what real-time software engineering is in a lot of ways, and people are drawn to this industry because of that. Particularly from a technical point of view.

So why is there so many big people? Because there's a lot of shit-hot people in the games industry.

Why is there so much anger from that rarefied air, like with Hawkins?

Well, I don't think you're gonna find Tim Sweeney's really spitting chips at his position. John Carmack's not really super uptight -- I mean, there's a lot of anger because we're in a very competitive, cutthroat industry but not everyone can be John Carmack.

That's true.

I'm talking about coders, primarily, here, but it's the same on the artist's side. Not everyone's gonna be the dude who makes absolutely tip-top quality characters. Not everyone's party to all of the production meetings. Not everyone knows what's in the contract. Not everyone knows what’s in the milestone agreement -- not everyone's talking to the publisher. Not everyone's having fights with the marketing department. There's a lot of things that are going on that are not privy to everyone in the studio. And right now, we have this seemingly radicalized minority of the gaming audience that is just intent on ripping the shit out of very, very stupid things.

Like, if you got people refusing to buy games because it's made in Unity then they're fucking idiots. There's just really nothing you can do about that kind of mentality. If you got people who are slagging off games journalists for doing a really difficult job who know nothing about it, then, you know, that in itself is bad. But when that leads to harassment and doxxing and all the other shit that's gone on it's like, holy shit, man.

Do you feel like the game industry should do more to stand up for its people --

Yeah. This has always pissed me off. We've got institutions like IGDA, that's Independent Game Developer's Association. They have done fuck-all that I can see in the entire time that I've been in the games industry to do anything about working conditions, working hours. I mean, you remember stuff like EA Spouse.

Of course.

I didn't see IGDA coming out and making a real firm stance about, "This is wrong. We shouldn't do that." We've had the president of that thing, at least on two occasions I can think of saying, "Yeah, crunch is just part of the industry." There's all sorts of shit that could be done.

You know, someone from Epic, I forget, one of the studio heads just said, "Yeah, you're gonna have to crunch if you want work for Epic." And it's like, "Great. I'm not working for Epic.”

I've done my time. I don't know that I need to do that anymore.

Well, you'll be heartened to know that I am going to talk to IGDA, as well.

I have no time for them at all.

I may ask if you have any questions you'd like to pass along.

Yeah: "Why the fuck do you do nothing to actually stand up for developers rights and yet you claim to be a developers association?"

I mean, I want to ask them, "Why is nobody talking about unions?"

Oh, we are. There's -- I mean, there's a couple of private developer's forums that have been around for the last 10 years. There's been talk about it but bear in mind we live in a world where unions have basically been dismantled. The rights of workers to group up for collective bargaining has been dismantled in law in most countries in Western society. This isn't something we can really do. It's far too late for us do something like the Writer's Guild Association in America. Those days have passed.

And more importantly, it'll probably be seen as a negative for a lot of the studios because if you're a vocal proponent or member of the union, then you're going to be seen as a troublemaker and you're probably not going to get hired. And that would be the same in any industry right now.

I'm aware.

This isn't something that's localized to the games industry but, yeah, there has been talk about it. What I see happening, which I think has forced the issue more is in general the developers in the game industry have just got older. Everyone's got kids now. I'm 39 and I started quite late. So, all of us have been elevated to more senior positions. We've all done 10 years of crunch or worked on some shitty projects. We've all got the memories of it. None of us really want to do it again.

So there's a little bit less enthusiasm to stay all night eating pizza.

[Laughs.]

That's not to say that it doesn't happen and sometimes you can't sometimes actually pull young kids out of the studio because, you know, fuck it. They're living their dream. They're making videogames. They're gonna stay there as long as they want regardless. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't necessarily make them drink.

I would say it's definitely slowed down. The bigger projects right now are at a point where Assassin's Creed and stuff like that -- that's a thousand-person job, you know. Some of those people are crunching but it's not all of them.

So, crunch is often talked about. What sucks about working at the big-budget places?

I wouldn't say that it's the big-budget places that suck. That would be the wrong way of putting it. There's aspects of working in the games industry that are fairly thankless.

It can go in a number of ways. I mean, this is probably a big list.

So, I'll start with the obvious one. You spend two years of your life if you make a bad game. My God, that's a thankless place to be. Because, you’ve just got fans of a franchise who are just basically calling you a cunt and you've spent, you know, a long time working your ass off. "You're welcome. I'm glad you hate that game because, you know, those are years of my life I'm never gonna get back." And none of us do that on purpose. But, you know, it happens and that can be a real negative aspect of working in games.

The flip side on that is you work on something that people love and remember. That's a good feeling that goes with you for a long, long time. So you win some, you lose some.

The negative aspects for me, I think, it's very difficult to be in a permanent work-for-hire situation, which a lot of game-dev studios are because it's like walking a tightrope for a long period of time. It's stressful for everyone who's concerned.

And it's very hard to sign deals with publishers. Particularly as the budgets go up. You need a scope and a size that is a very risky proposition to keep running day by day. And that also means that to feed that beast that you've created, you need a particular type of project to scope and size, which don't come along all the time. So, you can be about to fall off the rope at any point.

I mean, it's odd. You can see it now with indie developers with, like, three-, four-man studios talking about what a tightrope it is to try and fund games or contract people to work on their games. It's like, "Yeah, cool. It's that, but with a burn rate that's a like a million pounds a month." You know, so, it just scales as you go up. That side of it can be quite depressing sometimes as well.

And for me, the big negative -- the thing I would always hate about it is you can have really good ideas and you can work on really good demos and you can get projects signed and you can have stuff that's looking really sweet and it can just get canned. I mean, I've worked on so many canned games. And I'm actually quite lucky. I know people who've, like, worked on six or seven in a row.

You know, just haven't gotten a game released in seven or eight years. I mean, that's fucking soul-destroying. That's a real, real bad place to be. And no one knows about those games. No one ever knows what you've done, the cool stuff that you created. They never went to the trade shows. There was no PR or marketing. You're not allowed to talk about them because there's probably an IP owned by someone else. And all of that work's just disappeared.

What do you think the games media could be doing to improve anything in the games industry?

I really like the stance that a lot of the British press took about Gamergate. I like the fact that sexism is really being pointed out now and, you know, this so inherent in our industry from the year dot -- I mean, I remember when I was a kid and games were just basically sold by Page 3 models with big tits. It's always been like that, and we tried to get rid of it a number of times and now finally, I think we're on that path. I love the fact that there's game-dev studios and there's actual real women working and making games in most places. That's phenomenal.

I can remember when it was, like, two, and they were probably an artist or one of them worked in reception. But, you know, I've met loads of female coders now. That's phenomenal. That's great.

I mean, I talked to Brenda Laurel who told me they didn't even have a woman's bathroom.

Yeah, I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised in the slightest. That absolutely rings completely true. I mean, some of these things can be, like, so shoehorned together and -- but I think the press needs to take a real good stand on this ethical situation. The press need to -- they don't need to necessarily need to give as much time as they do to AAA.

The Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I really like because it just covers a wide gamut. There's games in there that I would not play, that are not my kind of thing, but they give them time and they help them find their audience. And that right now -- We don't need another IGN or Gamespot. We don't need another website that just puts out the trailer straight from the publisher. We need thoughtful editorial. We need someone who's going to stand up and actually say, "Here's what's going on. Here's what is wrong about this. Here's what right about this." Games magazines used to be really opinionated and there's very few that are anymore.

And I particularly miss that from the web because the web is basically regurgitating press releases and trailers and that's no help to anyone, really. It's not even stuff I'm interested in. I can go to YouTube, I can find it myself. I don't need a website to curate that stuff for me.

Yeah, I mean, I get the same press releases.

Exactly. I mean.

It's not hard to find. And anyone who's seen a press release can see that a website's cut and pasted it. You know, because the whole point is you're basically giving them a story anyway. So, you know, I don't envy news editors' jobs because they have to find something worthy but, you know, really maybe let's just actually go back to having some proper editorial. Stick your neck out a bit and actually say what you think about things. Why are things good?

I really like that PC Gamer started championing -- Alien: Isolation was a good example. They just loved that game and they were gonna shout and scream to everyone, "You have to get this game. You have to get this game." And if they hadn't of done that, I would have been so put off by the previous Aliens games that I probably wouldn't have looked at it at all.

Because, like, that franchise has been shat on by everyone. So, the chances of there suddenly being a good Alien game seems so remote to me. And it's that kind of championing, this stuff's good. You know. And do it for the indie games, do it for the small releases, do it for the real esoteric stuff, the wider we can kind of get an appreciation of this -- you know, games don't have to make money. I really like the fact that games are starting to take on, you know, political or, people are using games as a way to express themselves. You know, because, I didn't really grow up where games had that. Games weren't political apart from maybe someone stuck in something about the Miners' Strike in Monty Mole.

Insert

Now it's like, you know, you can write a game about being queer. You can write a game about being whatever you want. Games don't have to just be about fun anymore. They can have a message. And they can just be a message.

I forget what I played. I played one the other day, and it was basically he tried to emulate someone had just taken a load of drugs in a nightclub and it was phenomenal. Had no idea what was going on. It's not a game that you would say was fun. You were really trying to work out what to even interact with. But I'm sitting there thinking, "Well, if you're off your face in a nightclub, that's pretty much a feeling that you're gonna have." It's like, "Does that door work? Does that door go in or out? I don't know. I'm off my face."

[Laughs.]

If someone's trying to express something like that in a game with this really dissonant music and visuals and I was just like, "Oh, man, this is not necessarily something you'd sit down on a Friday night and play but it's an experience that you would only get because we can move around in these virtual environments."

We can do something in games that you can not do in film, you can kind of do in books -- books will help you visualize the space but you're making it up. Games will kind of give you an environment that you can really poke around in. And it's -- I'm really thankful that we're getting to the point where the tools are cheap and simple and people can do this stuff. It's about time. This is the point where we’re gonna cross this threshold where this whole "games is art" thing -- well, yeah, because there's some artistic experiences out there now. And we are getting to the point where you can have them.

And that's good. And the more the press can champion these kinds of things and make these gamers aware of it, and the more we can mature what we expect from it and it's not just Shoot Manface 12, you know, then this is all good. This is the stuff I'm interested in. This is where I think we need to go. We need to make this a bigger, wider space for what we do.

Insert

Yeah. So, you mentioned you came to games from another industry. What was the other industry?

So, I was kind of doing web Internet stuff just as the internet bubble was starting and popping.

Like as Netscape was taking off?

Yeah, so I came out of university and I think Netscape 3 had come out. And I was basically doing markup which was what HTML became, so I was doing this kind of markup stuff for technical documentation and then I was just riding this wave, basically, where people were just putting stuff online and doing some quite big three-tier websites for BAE, which is a big military company in the UK. They had diversified into doing commercial stuff and then 9/11 happened and it was just like, wanted to get out of working in this industry.

What made you want to work in the game industry and what were you hoping that'd be a path to?

Oh, I'd always wanted to work in games. I knew that from the smallest memory I've got, really.

My mum used to take me to a pub in Hampshire called Fox & Hounds, which is just outside of Eastleigh and I remember going out, it must've been like 5 or 6, and they had a little shed out in the back and it had an Asteroids and Space Invaders and they used to just basically get a little stool, stick it by the arcade machine, fill up my pockets with 10-p pieces. I'd sit in there playing those -- like, fuck knows what I was doing. I was mashing the buttons, basically.

[Laughs.]

While they went and had a few pints. And I was just like, "That's my whole life, playing games." I eventually got my first computer and I got a game called Head Over Heels. It was actually the first game that I bought for that computer and I started doing a map for extra rooms for it, which is basically drawing squares in a shape and saying, "Yeah, there's gonna be rooms like this." [Laughs.] It wasn't really designing, but I knew then that I was, like, "This is cool. I like games. I want to know how you do this stuff."

Insert

But it was basically when I got my Amiga, I got D Paint with the Amiga, so I started doing graphics and I was like, "Actually, I'm all right at this. I can draw." I never really actually done anything in pencil, so I didn't know I had it in me. And then I got something about a month later called ProTracker which would just allow you to do music and, holy shit, I was just glued to ProTracker for about four years just, like, writing music and stuff.

I don't know if you're aware of the demo scene but the demo scene is something that is basically, like, real time videos combining code, art, and music. They're kind of like old music videos. You can sort of think of it that way, flying 3D objects and in sync with the music and it's all in real-time. And that was massive on the Amiga. So I thought, "Well, if I'm doing this music, and I'm doing these graphics, then I can maybe start making demos." I sort of started teaching myself how to program. Never got to make any demos because I wasn't good enough, but it basically me started coding. And rather than do A-levels, which is the norm, what you do after your first set of qualifications in the UK, I went to a technical college and just did computer studies. I didn't bother doing anything else because I knew I just thought I have to work with computers.

So I started getting formally trained for programming, went to university, and when I left university, I actually applied, to, like everywhere in the UK. Like, I don't think there's a game studio that didn't get my dodgy disk of ProTracker tunes and shit D Paint pictures and, like, here's a 3D cube floating around. I didn't hear back from anybody.

I used to sort of try every few years, you know, I'd put a new demo together or I'd make a new shitty little game-effort thing. But most of it was rubbish. So I'm not surprised.

But then, there was a newsletter in the UK called Need to Know, and they advertised that there was this retro-gaming event. This must've been, like, 2000 or something, and I was like, "Oh, cool." They had some Spectrums and shit set up and I went down there and I met Jeff Minter, who's, like, a real famous game dev in the UK, and I just immediately was like, "Oh, dude, you're Jeff Minter! Can I buy you a pint?" So I started talking to him.

I ended up sat in my car having a spliff with him. Everyone knows he's a complete caner. So I was like, "Right. Awesome. I've got to talk to Jeff Minter." Just ended up being friends with him and over a period of time, I kept going to these retro things, kept running into people like Jeff, and eventually just started meeting people in the games industry. So when I knew I had to get out of BAE, I basically just quit and I was heads down making a game prototype with the idea being to send off to everyone. But I've sent it Climax, who were local and they were like, "Yeah, come in. We've got jobs in test. You can start at the bottom, do whatever everyone else does." So that's what happened.

I interviewed someone else from Spain who worked in QA for eight years and said that he never even felt like he was part of the industry.

I mean, QA's a tough job. I've got loads of time for the QA guys 'cause you have to understand how mind-numbingly repetitive it can be. Imagine you have to check the spelling of a sentence about 52 times a day, but it's not even that exciting. You would be banging up against something for a real long period of time.

And I found it really difficult to keep motivated, but if you meet a good QA guy, holy shit, they're like manna from heaven. One guy I work with, he used to be able to find, like, invisible bits of collision that were left in the world. And he was, like, walking along the edge of invisible polygons to prove to people that there was collision in there. And it's like you can't see any of this stuff. He just found it and just pointed it out.

So, yeah, QA's a tough, tough job.

So how did you go from QA to -- I mean, you have a lot of different titles. I see design, AP, external producer, dev director --

Yeah. They had a scripting engine in the game, so I have a computer science degree. So some bright spark went, "Hey, you can code can't you?" I was like, "Yup!"

[Laughs.]

"Awesome. Off you go. Go in there because we need someone who can use this scripting language." And yeah, I basically -- it was more like a technical designer because most of the game had already been written on paper up front, and we were implementing and fixing that.

Well, but how did you go from QA to taking on all these other roles and different projects. Because this other person was there for nearly a decade and wasn't able to go anywhere.

I was sat in QA and the boss just sort of came up one day and goes, "You can code, can't you?" And I was like, "Yeah."

I mean, that’s literally what changed for me. They said, "Right, well, go and sit over there because we need people who can script."

And then the jump from that to getting into production, there was an email sent around internally. And they're basically looking for a project manager. And I was just being cheeky because I was doing project management outside of games, so I just sent my CV in and said, "Yeah, there you go."

I was just being cheeky, so.

No, I don't even know if you call it luck. You just happen to do stuff that you can frame as, "Yeah, I can do that."

Well, to be fair, I was friends with the guy who probably had a say on who got the job because I saw him down at the pub often and, like, I was probably -- it's a little bit of luck and then there's a little bit of, "Well, I've become quite good friends with this dude.” I would've ended up working with this dude. So, it was, I suspect like jammy kind of -- I wouldn't say social engineering but it's like I probably had a head start over the other applicants. Put it that way because I was, like, good fun down the pub at that point. [Laughs.]

Do you feel like people who get lucky or jammy in the game industry know it?

Well, I don't know. And this might sound really wanky but I've always kind of thought that you -- it’s like that old saying: "Make your own luck." And that sounds really pretentious because there's some unlucky people who are like, "Oh, fuck off do you make your own luck."

I know some really unlucky people, so that's a really shit statement. But I think maybe luck is that you can see that an opportunity is gonna arise and you start putting yourself into a position where if an opportunity arises you can take it and having no fear about making a decision, I think, is a very important part of being lucky. Like, taking a risk and saying, "You know what? Fuck it. I'm gonna do this." Because if it pays up and it works, you can't say that, "Well, yeah, obviously I knew that was gonna happen." You were lucky.

But if you weren't there and you weren't prepared to make the decision, then you can probably turn around and say, "You're unlucky." Do you know what I mean? I don't think that there's anyone in the game industry that a little golden finger has come out of the sky and gone, "Right, it's your turn to be lucky."

I think there's people who have done really well in the games industry who aren't the most talented people but, you know, goddamn they were in the right place at the right time, they took the right decisions, they made the right choices, they met the right people, they did the right things, and I don't really begrudge any of those people the success that they have.

It would be -- you know, I've not walked in their shoes. I don't know everything that they've done. I can look as an outsider and go, "Yeah, you're just a jammy bastard, but!" But can I honestly say that about everyone in the games industry? No. I mean, there's people I don't like that are successful, and that's a different thing. You know, I call them a jammy bastard for a different reason.

[Laughs.]

But I can't really point to many people that I would say, "You have no right to be where you are. You're just lucky."

Because the game industry is more of a meritocracy than anywhere else I've been. It's not a complete meritocracy, but it's pretty good. You know, it doesn't matter what age you are. If you're capable of doing a job, I would put you in that role. I've worked with some really good people that I've pushed as far as I can and given as much responsibility as I can to because they're capable of doing it. They don't need to wait for some magical period to be able to do this stuff. They can do it now.

So this is gonna be a cheesy question, but did you ever feel like you "made it" in games?

No, never. Never. And I don't think you can. I look at all of my work and I'm not happy with any of it. I can't. No one can say that. Anyone who said that I think is full of shit.

[Laughs.]

No game is finished. None of them. There's no point that I've made the game I'm happy with. There's no point that I've run out of ideas about more games I want to make. I mean, I would've said that I made it if I was Eugene Jarvis and I made Defender, Stargate, and Robotron. Right? And I'm not Eugene Jarvis. And I haven't made those games. I am not even, like, Eugene Jarvis' cousin.

I'm not even on the same ballpark as, like -- and Eugene Jarvis doesn't say that he's made it. Eugene Jarvis is still out there making games. He's still doing arcades. He's still doing what he loves.

I've no time for anyone who says that because they're probably in it for the wrong reasons.

Yeah. No, I understand. The self-scrutiny and the standards of your stuff that you're talking about, I think some people just see the tire tracks you're leaving behind. Like, they don't really see where you're going.

I'm only leaving tire tracks because I left first. Yeah?

Like, if you sat in the passenger seat with me, you can't even see the tire tracks. All of that's bullshit. Some people have got fast cars.

You know, some people are gonna drive off a cliff with theirs. So, you know, who's to say who's going better?

I think anything that you can be -- I don't want to get into my games are art because it's like, I don't feel that way. What I can say is I don't look at any of the games I've worked on and think, "You know what? That's finished. I'm happy with that. There's not a thing that I couldn't have done to plus that game and improve it." Because that's bollocks.

And working alone now, that's even worse because there's loads of things that I would like to do to make my game better, but you know, I can't. [Laughs.] It's got to come out at some point.

[Laughs.] Because there's no point in working on a game that no one plays.

This is true.

And I'm running out of cash, so, I'm gonna hit a very, very real wall soon. So, even though I'm starting to get more happy with my work, no, Christ, I'm so far away from being in any sort of position -- what I would like to be is if I could look back on the games that I've made in 10 years' time and not laugh at them. That's a good place to be. That's better than what I could hope for.

Yeah. I was gonna ask. You haven't mentioned all the games that you've worked on. There are some fairly big titles. What do you feel you have ownership over on the games that you've worked on in the industry?

Depends on the game.

Now, some of those games, like, I worked on for a very short period of time comparatively. 'Cause most of those games had been like, two, three years in the making and if someone comes in and just does, like, eight months, then, no, you can't claim to have any ownership over the game.

I feel a lot of ownership over Sudeki because I physically put the stuff into the game. I feel a lot of ownership over the Game Boy game that I made because it was a really tough project to do and it could have gone in lots of horrible ways but we got it done. I feel lots of ownership over Crackdown 1 and Crackdown 2, and that's because even though I was doing production stuff on that, I still put content in the game. So I've always tried to sneakily do some content in the game because at the very worst I can point to it and say, "Oh, I put that in. I did that.”

So, compared to how I feel about my game that I'm working on right now, holy shit, I own this game. This game is basically an expression of what makes me laugh, what kind of ability I expect people to have playing this type of game. This is closer to being an extension of being me than any other project I've worked on. But I'm the only person working on it, so there'd be something wrong. I'm basically making this game now to please myself, so this could be a game that I'm the only person in the world that even likes. So I could have total ownership over this game. [Laughs.]

Which is not necessarily the right thing. Really, you don't want to have total ownership over it. You want to create something other people feel that they own, and you want to have something that becomes a part of your life and spreads a bit of joy and happiness and gives fun and some of the games I worked on didn't do that and they're horrible games. And I feel ownership over some of the things that may have gone wrong on that because I was there.

But it's a broad term. It's a broad term. The only game I can honestly hand on heart say I probably own is the one I'm working on now. But that could also be a negative. You know, I could be too close to what I'm doing right now. So, time will tell on that.

This was another sarcastic joke you made earlier in our emails, but tell me a bit about "surviving the console wars."

Well, no, so, there's always this thing going around, wasn't it? Ever since the MegaDrive and the Super Nintendo, there's a “console war.” Sega versus Nintendo. Now, I've not been in a war. I don't know much about wars, but I'm pretty sure there's a lot of casualties in war. And there's a lot of people who get stretchered out before the war's finished and they sit on the sidelines and they kinda watch the war go on. And I'm working on my own now, I'm not back in the UK at one of the AAA studios. I'm not working with Microsoft anymore. So I feel like I got stretchered off, because the war's still happening.

You know, Microsoft is still shooting at Sony and Sony are laughing because they can't really feel anything at the minute, and Nintendo's in a trench drowning.

Let's not forget the audience.

The audience is just shooting fuckin' everyone. So, yeah.

It's interesting, though, because I hadn't really thought of console wars and casualties, but that's a good way of looking at it.

It's just a play on it.

No, but you're absolutely right.

I mean, these things are a reflection of how I feel to a degree.

Triple Eh?, I picked that name because a) it's taking the piss and b) I'm not in it anymore, so the casualty of console wars, well, the console wars are still going on, I can't honestly say I'm in the console wars right now. I'm not at Gamescom. I'm not on the stage, sweating for a demo or, you know, doing a meet and greet, PR, and I'm happy for that. I'm quite glad other people can take the bullets for that now. I've done my time as far as I'm concerned with that.

Well, why did you want to get out?

I just -- I don't know. You get to a point. I didn't find, like, production management to be primarily that satisfying, and out of all the roles I've had in the games industry, that's definitely the most thankless because, like, no one's ever fucking thanked me for doing -- oh, no, one person did actually thank me for something very specific that I won't mention.

I don't know, I was just kinda getting bored of shuffling spreadsheets and emails around. I got into the games industry, really, to do the physical process of making games and even though I was part of it and I can have the joypad in my hand for half the day and I can give my feedback and I can say, "Look, I don't like this. I do like this." If the majority of your time, you're surfing an email client and doing hiring/firing spreadsheets, then, like I say, I've done my time.

I've done client relationship stuff, I've never really enjoyed doing the PR stuff because I wasn't very good at it and was always worried I was going to piss off someone from marketing because I would want to have fun and I would want to take the piss and I would be honest and, you know, "Stay on message, stay on message." And it's like, "Oh, for fuck's sake.”

Yeah, I don't think I've ever read a story about someone smoking up in a car with Jeff Minter in a games publication.

Oh, Jesus Christ, I could tell you a story about someone's trunk and what was in it in Seattle that would make your nose bleed, then, but I won't 'cause I think he might still be working.

It's not the story itself that's so funny, it's just that you so rarely hear about it in context with videogames.

Jesus, loads of people do it. That's the thing.

I know. I mean, I have heard stories about the coke parties around E3.

[Laughs.] It snows around E3, Jesus Christ. [Laughs.]

[Laughs.]

You'd be hard-pressed to get into the toilets around there at certain times of day. Fucking hell.

[Laughs.] I mean, many years ago I've worked for some people who ostensibly were my editors but they were largely AWOL during game conferences. I would just be like, "Okay, I guess I have to do this thing you told me to do. I don't know where the hell you are."

I was literally at a party where you could not get into the toilets for precisely that reason.

Like, there was a free bar and the only people who were drinking were British.

Doesn't that tell you something, though?

Well, yeah, because we couldn't fly over with anything. That's what that told me.

I mean, I don't know. We did an interview with Edge Magazine when we started Ruffian, and we were on the phone with Edge for about two hours and the only thing they could print, right, I swear, was like this quarter-page thing. [Laughs.] And we told them loads of stuff and none of it went in print. So people do, you know -- this stuff does kind of come out, but if it's not on message for the product or the PR's organized it then PR gets to say what the message is, and then, I'm pretty sure a lot of it gets cut.

Yeah, I mean, that's obviously why I'm doing a little bit of this. It's not even so much to expose certain things, but there's so much about this space that aren't really documented or you forget are there and that people who just buy games know nothing about and it might be interesting for them as fans. Like, I know about those coke parties at E3, but why would that ever come up to talk about?

What we mostly want to do, like, if we go to E3 is we want a few beers because we're jet lagged. We're in the wrong time zone. We need beer at 5 o'clock so we can put the sail up and actually stay awake for the evening and then we need beer at midnight so we can actually pass out and go to sleep. Because the jetlag's a killer to LA.

But you guarantee that every publisher hotel I ever go to, they've run out of beer or we're booked into a hotel with no mini-bar. And, like, it's downtown LA. There's fuck-all bars anywhere near. [Laughs.] And that is the biggest crime of all of it. Sod the parties. Who the hell turns up with a load of people and doesn't fill their bedroom with loads of beer for all the developers that are flown in?

I mean, a lot of people, they come to E3 and they walk away this impression of what Los Angeles is and they think all of it is as depressing and abandoned as downtown LA.

Right. [Laughs.]

And I can't tell you how many piece have been written by games writers who are so depressed about the state of games and they use LA as a metaphor or filter for it in the pieces they write that week.

Well, to be fair, downtown LA is, like, the -- I don't know. I'm pretty sure Doom was modeled out of downtown LA.

[Laughs.]

That's the red patch that all this shit came out of. I mean, we walked about, I don't know, 15 blocks away to find a bar and holy shit, like, it's the roughest place on earth.

Lots of cacodemons wandering around LA.

Yeah, man. You just don't want to look anything in the eye in case it sees you back.

[Laughs.] Well, I'm curious. You mentioned doing these long interviews and getting feedback from marketing. What are the things people in marketing freak out the most about in press? Because I've been at those tables where I'm interviewing someone and there's a PR person and I don't even know what they're taking notes on.

I've only seen some of it. We were pretty lucky, to be fair. Microsoft aren't really bad at this. In fact, the PR's I remember from Microsoft were actually pretty awesome. In general, like, we're quite a sweary bunch. That never goes down well. Like, European press, it's fine, but you don't really want to swear in front of the American press. They get really twitchy about it.

We're not allowed to learn bad words.

I don't know what it is. It's very, very noticeable and it's, like, they definitely didn't like me getting drunk before a certain point in the day at which point I was very, very eager to go to the bar.

But you're literally having the same conversation over and over again and you're basically being told to stick to the same talking points. Sooner or later, you're gonna want to have a drink.

We were quite lucky. Crackdown, we actually prepared our own story.

We did it with Dave Jones beforehand, but I did repeat that story, I think, 30 times in a day. And then I was on the show floor, repeating the same story and like, holy shit, that was hard work. But people think E3's jolly. It's like, I was dying. If it wasn't for the fact that there was beer, I would never have made it through. I couldn't stay awake. I had to get drunk to actually be awake in the evenings because, like, 5 o'clock, I was just about to, like, curl up and die. So we didn't really get told off for any PR stuff on that.

We did kind of argue a little bit with marketing for the sequel, though, because there's a bunch of things that we didn't like. But you don't have a lot of say over it 'cause you're not paying the money. If you don't like the message or you don't like imagery or you don't like the tagline there's not much you can do about it.

We were given pretty free reign with the press, though, but I didn't do any of the press abroad. I only did the press when they came to the studio. And, to be honest, I kinda disappeared into the background because we had, like, the local PR come up and they seemed to be completely cool with whatever we wanted to say. That was fine. However, yeah, I've actually not been that bad thinking about it. When I got dragged in front of, like, doing interviews for MTV Holland and stuff like that, which I really didn't want to do.

[Laughs.]

I was, like, pooing it. I just really didn't want to be on TV. I don't even like having my photo, like, flashed about, let alone being on MTV.

And, like, everyone was -- I didn't know what I was talking about. It was like I had forgotten everything that we were demoing. I was, like, just sat there like an idiot. And I, to this day, I have no idea what the fuck I talked about because it was, like, MTV Holland, so -- [Laughs.] But I remember the EP coming up afterwards going, "It's fine. You did really well." And I was like, "Yeah, right."

At least it's over.

Yeah. But we had a guy who worked with us who was just a genius at it. He could just talk all day and have a smile on his face and he was really cool. So, I just would push him in front of doing press as much as possible. You need to have a gift for that stuff, I think. Not everyone can just get a message across and still sound like it's the first time they've ever said it.

We were talking before we started about people onstage at these events and flop sweat and how there's no George Clooney in the game industry. How would you like to see marketing for games change?

I would marketing to have no fucking say on what is in a game. I would love it if, like, you know -- see, this just isn't the real world and this is never gonna happen, but I would love it if you could come up with an idea and it wouldn't really matter if there was a demographic. You could just make an idea and make a good game and --

You mean, just have fun making something?

Yeah. You know, but it's this goddamned thing about business and making money and needing money to survive and we don't all live in a hippie nirvana. I don't know. I really dislike the tone of a lot of the marketing. I dislike the fact that it's very much targeting -- well, it's a little bit older now, but it's that early twenties demographic. I very much dislike it. It's like, fucking white privileged males seem to be the only people with money that the marketing departments seem to give a shit about.

You know, this just ties into all the other stuff we were talking about at the start, though. This is an endemic problem that's been there from the start. I would love it if not everyone raced to make games just for the American market. We need more games like Fable. We need more games that are parochial to their developer's countries. We need more games that are set in Scandinavia. We need more games that are set in France. We need more games that are reflections of the world we live in and marketing are a big part of this because you work with a massive publisher who's only got a marketing department in one studio in one country that doesn't know anything about how to sell anything anywhere else and they're gonna be reticent to do this stuff 'cause they don't have a message or whatever. It's like, we could do so much more to make games a reflection of fun and joy and the world we live in rather than America's just been hit by nuclear fucking bomb, let's go shoot some people.

There's just way too much of this shit. There's just way too much of this shit.

All the experimental games, all the other stuff I was talking about before, that's what gives me joy about the games industry right now. The rise of the smaller studios replacing the A- and B-tier games with, okay, some of it might be generic, but it's generic and it's fun and it's, like, a good twist on maybe something that's gone before, to the completely esoteric, freeware games that you're just gonna bump into on a website.

You know, more people need to discover this stuff. And I think, to be fair, actually, it's not all marketing's fault. It's, you know, the ability that people have to sell games in required numbers to pay for funding is what the problem is. You know, games are fucking expensive. Like, ridiculously expensive.

They take a very, very long time to make by a lot of people. It's no wonder that it's risk-averse. It's no wonder that Sony's pushed indies so much on PSN. It's because they need content. And if you walk into GameStop right now, I find it a really depressing place to be because Xbox One and PS4 have basically got the same games, there's about 10 games on the shelves, and you walk to the left a little bit and you've got the Xbox 360 and the PS3 with about a thousand games. I used to buy a game every two, three weeks when it was the 360 and PS3 generation. I got, like, hundreds of games for that platform. I've got three for my PS4 and two of them I bought on PS3.

It's really shit. It's really shit. I mean, if it wasn't for PC gaming taking a massive leg up this generation, I mean, I would be playing Nintendo games only. There's just hardly anything out. And, you know, it's not necessarily marketing's fault, but someone needs to make more games for these platforms and they need to get into shops and they need to have interesting marketing so that people will buy them. Who the fuck wants COD 15?

Somebody.

Well, not as many people as before.

Well, yeah, there's been 15 of 'em.

I mean -- ah, fuck. I still buy FIFA or Pro Evo every year, so, that's probably the wrong analogy to make. That's the type of game where it's like, "Jesus Christ, just go subscription. Just give me constant updates on maps." 'Cause you don't need my $60 every year. Just take $20 off me. I love Battlefield. I'll pay that for a map every, you know, three, four months. That's fine. That, for me, would be good value for money. That gets that whole thing out of that space.

But, you know, everything's just like dark and man-face-shoot-dragon scale-knight-rain. Fuck. Couldn't there be a little bit more joy in the industry? You know, we need -- mobile, even though no one pays for mobile games, there's a lot of mobile players. There's a lot of bright, fun entertaining games on that platform. You know, once we work out how to actually get money out of people without raping whales. You know, that could actually do quite well to expand the games industry massively. But it's not gonna do it right now.

And I don't know. It'd be unfair to say I want marketing to do this. It's not marketing's problem. I want -- it seems a real crying shame to me that Nintendo have put out the best content and possibly some of the best games that have ever been made in the last two years and no fucker's bought them. [Laughs.] So maybe Nintendo's marketing is the problem. Their marketing department should sort their shit out because if their marketing department did a better job, then everyone would be happy. Yeah. That's the marketing problem. Nintendo.a

Insert

What do you think videogames have achieved?

That's a good question.

I think, I mean, it's easy for me to answer that from a personal basis. Videogames have taught me about technology. They've taught me to understand computing. They've given me an understanding of networking. They've positioned me to be in the right place at the right time for one of the biggest, fastest technical innovations that the human race has ever seen with the growth of the Internet and mobile computing. I've got into all of that stuff because of computer games because that's the age that I am.

I think computer games in part are responsible for the destruction of the TV culture that was predominant through, like, the '80s. I think through network games and multiplayer games and co-op games they've got a socialized, enabling effect. I think they can be fantastic for the kind of group-bonding experience if you look at, like, stupid stuff like clans and all that stuff. But, you know, kids really get into that stuff -- kids all get into the YouTube channels, so what do kids know?

But I think they can do much more, though. I think they can -- we have to get to the point where we're not telling the same stories again and again. Where we're not, like, revisiting the same mechanics or the same worlds again and again. Games can take us anywhere our imaginations can come up with. And games can do it in better ways than books and films because games can let us own a little bit of that world or create in that world.

I mean, you could read a book about what it's like to be in Minecraft, but if you're on a big Minecraft server with a bunch of people and you make the biggest fucking thing in the middle of that Minecraft server, you've just spent, like, three months of your life doing something that's completely pointless to anyone who's not in the games sphere. But it's a phenomenal creation that a lot of people are going to dig and get into. And something like Minecraft is a fantastic educational tool. I love watching how kids can get into that stuff and, you know, they start understanding fluid dynamics, they start getting into the redstone stuff, man. They start understanding a little bit about computing in itself. It's fantastic.

So, you know, we could be millions of things from something like Elite: Dangerous where we're all space pilots in VR having a whale of our lives or being educators or teachers in something like Minecraft, creating worlds and giving something to kids that they just would not have. I mean, this is like LEGO-plus-plus. Meccano-plus-plus. You know, games can be all of this and more. I think games could be possibly the best educational tool that we've got but it's so hard to get good educational software that I feel that's massively under-explored.

I think games spaces could be a fantastic way to take social networking to, like, the next level. Fuck Facebook news feeds. PlayStation home and all that, they're all shonky attempts at what has been described in literature and science-fiction for years but are actually kind of an appealing space for humanity to get to. You know, we can do a lot of things in what would be game worlds that we haven't yet explored. That's kind of why I'm hyped for VR. I think there's gonna be a lot cool shit that's gonna come out of that. And it's gonna be games that are gonna push that to the fore. This tech will get pushed, I think, by what bright clever people do in the games industry. In the same way that, you know, pervasive broadband used to be because a lot of people were pissing and moaning about lag and now they're pissing and moaning about Netflix. But Netflix wouldn't have got anywhere, really, without what we were doing with Doom.

So there's a lot of technologies that gaming touches. A big part of the success of the app store, let's be honest, is games. You know, no one is buying 200 million calendar applications. They were going in to get Angry Birds and fucking everything else. Even though Apple seems to hate the games industry and the rush to the bottom has hurt a lot of people really badly, you know, it's a pervasive aspect. You don't need to have a console anymore if you're a kid because you've got a mobile phone or an iPad, you know. That's broadened the market in a real tangible way that's gonna affect things, you know, for a long time ahead. So I think games could be anything and everything and I think games are really confined right now. They're too often tread in the -- and I'm guilty of this. I'm remaking a game that's, like, 20 years old. And really I should go off into the brave new world and do something that hasn't been done before. And more game developers need to. I would love to see Activision with the money that they've got really take a punt on something. And fuck it, it would be great to see one of these companies fail, wouldn't it? Not because we want them to fall over, but because at least they tried.

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You know, we could have just some big-ass wonderful things if people were less risk-averse. If it were possible to sell in good numbers and then have proper cash as developers, games could be awesome for a long, long time to come.

But, I don't know. For me, personally, they've given me quite -- I've got to see a lot of people. Meet a lot of people. I've traveled to quite a few countries now because of it. They've taught me a lot. And it's this knowledge of the technology that I have now is, like I said before, it's predominantly about games.

Yeah.

But I think games really need to be more socially aware. They need to be a lot more responsible than they are. This collective shrug of, "It doesn't matter if there's tits on the cover. It's just a game.” Well, it does matter if there's tits on the cover. It does matter if you're oppressing people. It does matter if you're racist. It does matter if you're sexist. It does matter if you're not paying your employees properly. It does matter. All of this stuff matters. And games are no different than any other medium. You know, they need to take social responsibility for themselves and their own space before they can start pointing fingers at other people and saying, "It's not my problem."

Because it is. They need to police these online spaces so it's a good place for anyone to go and experience whatever content they want. You shouldn't be blocked off by some 12-year-old kid screaming, "Fag!" All of this stuff, we can all do better.

Everyone knows we can do better and it's just swept under the carpet. "It's too expensive. It's impossible." Not being funny: Nintendo managed it. I've not seen a single cock on the Miiverse. So I don't know how many people over there are constantly looking at pictures before they're approved but if Nintendo can fucking do it, anyone can do it. There's no reason why Activision cannot police their space and stop all the hate speak that's prevalent in their shooters or any shooter for that matter. There's no reason why Microsoft cannot take a strong stand on Xbox Live. Sony take a stand with PSN. You know, it's a collective, like, "It's someone else's problem.”

But it needs to be tackled from all levels. You know, parents need to tackle it. Society needs to tackle it. The companies need to tackle it. It's -- I don't know. Games are pretending they're young and they're not anymore. They've been through a couple of cycles. Everyone can see the same cycles happening again and on mobile. Everyone can see the new technology coming. I mean, fuck me, no wants this kind of harassment when you're in a VR space 'cause then it's actually gonna feel real. Not to belittle how real it feels now, but you know what I mean. It's gonna take on a different kind of aspect when you're actually floating around there. I think we've come a long way. I think we're slowly growing up.

But I look at some of the content that's on the shelves in this generation and I just kinda shake my head and shrug. I look at some of the content that people are doing for no money and no plaudits or anything else and I'm gobsmacked that it's stuff I didn't think of and couldn't do, and that for me is why the games industry is awesome. And as long we keep our tools accessible and free and we give this -- you know, make this a space that anyone can contribute to, then the sky's the limit really. We can do things that films and books are never gonna be able to do. They're almost frozen artforms. We're not. We're gonna ride the crest of whatever technology comes along for the foreseeable future.

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