30 May Warren Spector Interview
I finally got my dream Q&A with Warren Spector himself for GameNGuide. Here is an excerpt below:
“GameNGuide: Considering your thirty plus years as a designer, did you ever see the industry getting into academia the way it has?
Warren Spector: Oh hell no.
Are you kidding? I was working on my doctorate, my PHD when I dropped out to go make games. My mom is still crying; it’s unbelievable. But no, I never saw the video game business getting as big as it is. I never saw the impact like folks in Washington caring what we did. It’s amazing. I remember it was probably 1995 or 1996, I started working with the International Game Developers Association on their education committee and we couldn’t fill up this tiny room with people interested in teaching games. Now its amazing with over five hundred universities and colleges teaching game development. It’s outrageous so no, I never imagined it. The funny thing is; you know what I don’t want to turn into is an old fart now.
GameNGuide: Please do
Warren Spector: Ok well be careful what you wish for. I remember at Origin Systems in like 89 and 90, I would sit around with Richard Garriott and Chris Roberts. We would look at each other and say, “You know we’re going to change the world. How come no one can see it?” Everybody thought we were nuts, in fact all the business guys at Origin thought we were crazy. But you look around now, I’m not saying that we did it but games did it. Games are everywhere now and they’ve changed the world. Maybe there was an inkling that people might teach games one day but not the way they are now. It’s all over, it’s great.
GameNGuide: The program is launching in the fall as the next generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony are set for release around that time also. It was mentioned that one of the program’s goal is to always keep up with industry changes along with having students create a game by the end of the program. How is that going to work in a classroom?
Warren Spector: We’re expecting a project or more to come out of the year people are going to be in the program. It doesn’t seem likely that they’re going to be building an Xbox One or PS4 title in a year but what we need to do is find the skills that translate from smaller projects to larger projects. I think there are a bunch of projects around that do a really good job of teaching games as art. We don’t want to go quite that far so we’re going to be focusing on smaller scale projects. Projects that bring innovation to a more commercial setting. We don’t want people just graduating and just knowing how to make indie games. Not like it’s anything wrong with that because the indie movement is just doing some amazing stuff. One of my frustrations is that I don’t see a lot of the indie artistry or innovation getting translated into the commercial space. I see this type of program as kind of a way of showing people how to innovate in the context of a more commercial product. Again, there’s the possibility that things could change but my hope is that we’ll run them through a process that’s very similar to what a developer would go through if they were pitching or creating a project for Electronic Arts or Ubisoft.
GameNGuide: Speaking on the next-generation consoles, what are your thoughts on them?
Warren Spector: People often mistake my personal opinions for what I think globally. Globally I think the next-generation consoles are super powerful and if you have enough money, you’re going to be able to do some amazing things on them. They fall short and are kind of weird in a couple of ways obviously. I think both Sony and Microsoft are looking like they’re trying to reach out less to the core gamer and more to a mainstream audience. You may like it or not but it’s a reasonable decision. Personally, I’ve been working on bigger and bigger and bigger games. Every year they’ve gotten bigger and I just want to do something smaller. I’m really intrigued by this.
(Holds up tablet)
That means a billion potential players but with a smaller scope and smaller scale. I’m not saying that tablets are the future of games. I’m saying that for me, tablets are pretty interesting right now so I’m not thinking too much about next-gen platforms. Six months from now, I might be doing a startup and working for Microsoft. I have no idea. “