The pants in the gaming family

This whole post is more or less a look at another post, this post. David Jaffe, designer of the fantastical PS2 game God of War, made a post a few weeks ago regarding a Deconstruction Group he sat in on. The Deconstruction Group, in David’s words:

It was started by the head of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences along with two other key industry folks (one is a game writer, the other heads up the USC game department). Every 3-6 weeks the group takes over a game company’s conference room in So Cal (this week it was Naugty Dog), invites a bunch game industry folks, and has a few USC grad students play the key parts of interesting and popular games. As they play, the indsutry types network and chat and discuss the game, while the grad students deconstruct the game, explaining what worked for them, what did not, etc….It’s a really cool idea and helps those of us that are sometimes too busy making our own games to explore the newer titles. It’s also a nice time to meet up with people in the biz, say hey to old buddies, and make new ones!

Sounds like a great concept to me. He goes on to say “God of War was lots of fun to see being played, chat about,etc….BUT it was when Psychonauts came up that sparks started to fly.” And a discussion about developer’s rights ensued. He goes on to say “those publisher execs are right in that consumers purchase brands, not games made by specific teams or by specific designers….but they are only right FOR THE TIME BEING….” My God this guy needs to spend more time with Dave Perry, Jason Rubin, and Scott Miller. The time is now! Seize the day! Etc!

Of course the “knock-out punch” in my book is Jason Booth saying “It allways cracks me up when publishers say that branding the developer dilutes the brand of the title. If that were the case, then they wouldn’t put “EA” on the box at all. Try pitching that to them.”

The moral of this post? Just a bunch of questions. The Deconstruction Group is a great idea, and I have to wonder how common such things are. And seriously, what are some developers thinking? “It’s okay if I don’t get credit. One day people will recognize our genius on their own?!”

I mean, most casual gamers I know think that EA makes all of the games with ‘EA’ on them. Good job developers. Since Atari you’ve done little but give yourself over as indentured servants to publishers for the glorious opportunity to work in games. As a result, when Atari crashed publishers came around and bought everything for pennies on the dollar and they continue to do it today as a course of normal business that it’s quickly forgotten. EA bought Criterion for $48 million. You don’t think Burnout, the upcoming Black, and Renderware are worth that much? It’s like someone wanted to get rid of Criterion.

And how scary is it when developers are okay with EA saying “having your game associated with you will hurt the game,” but I and others like me, folks who wants to get jobs desperately, have huge issues with applying at EA?