David Cage is the director behind some of the most emotionally engaging games of the last two console generations, chiefly marked by supernatural conspiracy thriller Fahrenheit and kidnapping drama Heavy Rain. The latest game from Cage’s studio Quantic Dream, Beyond: Two Souls, launches later this year on PS3. Empire caught up with the auteur creator at E3 to discuss working with Hollywood, the changing landscape of media and the challenges facing the games industry.
Empire: Another PS3 exclusive, The Last of Us, has just launched to considerable acclaim, largely on the basis of its very human and emotionally grounded story. Does that add to the pressure of what you’re trying to do with Beyond: Two Souls?
David Cage: Oh, not at all, not at all. On the contrary, it’s great to see more games exploring the directions we started to explore like ten years ago. It’s great – we started this vein of games where we’re talking about emotions since Fahrenheit, then Heavy Rain. The more games that join us, the better.
Empire: You’ve got two very well respected Hollywood actors, Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe starring in the game. How did you get them onboard, and were they prepared for the different demands of producing a lengthy game?
Cage: We got them involved in a very simple way – we just contacted their agents, told them who we were, sent them a script and a copy of Heavy Rain, and most importantly the script for Beyond. We basically showed them “this is what we do” and said that we would love to have you on board because we think we can do something very unique together. [When] we met, we explained in great detail what it would be like, how challenging it would be. That was a very important part for me, to explain, so they don’t think that it’s going to be a walk in the park – it’s going to be very hard, very difficult, very challenging. There is technology involved, we’re not shooting a 90-minute film, we’re shooting ten-plus hours of gameplay. They listened and understood the process of what we were about to do, and they agreed to work together – it was as simple as that really. We didn’t ask any other actors though, we asked just Ellen and Willem, they were our first and only choices, and we were fortunate that they agreed to do it. But also, I think of their profiles as being not only very talented actors, but also ready to put themselves in ‘danger’, in a way. I mean, Ellen has done a lot of indie films, Willem has huge experience on stage – they’re willing to explore different things as actors.
Empire: During the ‘Future of Entertainment’ keynote with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg that coincided with E3, both directors said they thought that cinema was on the decline, and that the home experience would overtake media consumption, largely with interactive experiences. Your games have always been more on the dramatic and emotional side – do you feel you’ve been leading the charge to the kind of change Spielberg and Lucas predict?
Cage: I don’t know if I may disagree with Steven Spielberg! (laughs) But I think they are two very different experiences. When you watch a film, you want to be passive. You want someone to tell you the story without interacting. When you’re in front of a game, you want to interact, you want to be a part of the experience. And these ARE two very different experiences. I don’t want to think that one will fade away and not the other. I think both will co-exist and it will just depend on what type of experience you want to see. I mean, look at cinema and TV for example – it’s not the same programming, TV series are different from films. Not one kills the other, and I think the same will happen with games and films. I mean, what sometimes what the cinema people underestimate is the challenges we face in our industry, just to impose the fact that games can be something else besides shooting at monsters. It’s a huge challenge, and we have a lot of resistance in front of us. People still want to shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot – when you look at the games at E3, you see hundreds of games doing the same things, in pretty much the same way. That’s fine, but it’s going to take a lot of time until the dream of deeper experiences comes true, just because it’s very challenging, very difficult and few publishers really support that?
Empire: Does it depress you, then, to see so many developers ‘playing it safe’ and going for an endless stream of shooters?
Cage: You know, E3 is always a very depressing moment for me. I’ve been coming for 16 years and each time I have this strange reaction, which is “what am I doing here?” But at the same time, I’m thinking “OK, what we do is really different so this is why we’re here.” It’s a constant battle just to evangelise, to explain, to say “Yes, OK, there are shooters and that’s great but look, maybe there’s room for other types of games and you should give them a chance too because maybe they have something interesting to offer.”
Okester Posted on Thursday June 20, 2013, 13:50
Very excited about this game. played their previous PS3 game "Heavy Rain" which was unique and exceptionally good. One of those game experiences you remember long after having. Married with kids now so don't have time to play computer games, but will make an exception for this!