The director of Amistad and Always shares some of his thoughts on interactive entertainment.
On the surface, Steven Spielberg's association with Boom Blox seems inexplicable. It's basically a physics toy with no narrative, something that an R&D department (albeit a particularly clever one) might cook up. Unlike the Medal of Honor series--which Spielberg had an early hand in shaping--it features none of his topics of interest, nor his trademark flair for intense, personally grounded spectacle. But, on a more abstract level, Boom Blox is the ultimate manifestation of what he does. Boom Blox is all about providing a highly accessible experience to the broadest possible audience. It's not aggressively experimental or even particularly original--every other Wii game out there has some kind of motion-based, physics-happy control--it just does it really well. It's simple, but there's real craft to how it's assembled. It's incredibly commercial, but it doesn't pander or condescend. As Spielberg himself says in a recent interview for Yahoo! Games, it's all about relatability.
I'd been playing blocks all my life with all seven of my kids as they were growing up. That's how I came up with the game. That was going to be the draw, to get parents and kids in the same space together, finally playing a game together that would appeal to adults as well as kids.
The interview covers a number of different topics, and while he only speaks briefly about LMNO, his other “more complicated game” with EA, and briskly sidesteps a question about video-game violence, the man's very serious interest in video games is quite apparent. He's been playing games since Jaws (“I thought Pong was the Woodstock of videogaming”) and he's played enough modern games to know that he's no fan of cutscenes.
They go to a lot of trouble to do these [motion-capture] movies that explain the characters. And then the second the game is returned to you and it's under your control, you forget everything the interstitials are trying to impact you with, and you just go back to shooting things.
It's an interesting look at a man with a unique understanding of entertainment, regardless of the format.