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Spielberg Got Game

The director of Amistad and Always shares some of his thoughts on interactive entertainment.

This is basically identical to the opening of Saving Private Ryan.
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.
23 Comments
Posted by Ryan
This is basically identical to the opening of Saving Private Ryan.
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.
Staff
Posted by Sil3n7

I like to briskly sidestep questions

Posted by RawShark

I think I briskly sidestepped a dog turd once. It was a wednesday.

Posted by addictedtopinescent

I liked Boom Blox it's an awesome game and one of the best recently released for the Wii.

Posted by fetchfox

Somewhat surprising, but wicked cool to hear this coming from such a renown filmmaker as Spielberg. He's got game alright.

Posted by Fr0Br0

I guess I can see his point about cutscenes trying to shape a character, but the second it returns to gameplay the player is in control of what type of person they are. But I think this is what makes a game like MGS so cool is that the cutscenes blend so well with the gameplay in this regard.

Spoilers for MGS1:
Just think about toward the end of MGS1 when you are fighting Metal Gear Rex and Gray Fox comes in to save you. You are given the rocket launcher and you have a free shot to blow both Gray Fox and Rex into hell, but when you try to pull the trigger, Snake says he could never do that to his friend.

Posted by Dryker

I was helping a friend move yesterday, and bought a drink from the storage facility's vending machine that briskly sidestepped my requested Brisk ice tea and popped out a Nestea lemon instead.... briskly sidesteps must end!

Posted by KinjiroSSD

Boom Blox is the best Wii game second to Mario Galaxy

Posted by AngeTheDude

BRISK SIDESTEP~!

Posted by LordAndrew

Dude knows about games.

Posted by pause422

Fuck Steven Spielberg. His movies anymore are terrible, so he needs to stay away from games. Unless he sticks with the Wii, then hes free to make them.

Posted by AngeTheDude

Well I liked Crystal Skull quite a bit...

Posted by RHCPfan24

I heard that he plays Crysis. I am sure he has the money for a great PC :)

Posted by pause422
AngeTheDude said:
"Well I liked Crystal Skull quite a bit..."
wow.
Posted by floodiastus

Boom Blox is pretty awesome, regardless of Spielbergs shitty family movies

Edited by TwoOneFive
he raped indy, and he nuked the fridge. 
HE NUKED THE FUCKING FRIDGE!
Posted by DavidSnakes

Uh, MGS is actually a terrible example of good game storytelling.  Half-Life, BioShock, Call of Duty 4 all blow MGS away if you're looking at storytelling in the medium.

Edited by Media_Master

cool, Spielberg got game!

Posted by bshirk

Davidsnakes,

That's all a matter of opinion.  I thought Bioshock had a terrible story that pales in comparison to most RPGs.  I prefer cutscenes over lame radio chatter any day.  Call of Duty 4 had an extremely unoriginal narrative and was very one-sided.  Most video games choose to glorify war, while the Metal Gear games show you multiple aspects of complex scenarios.  Sure, there's some nonsensical stuff thrown in, but that is in a way a throwback to video games of old.  I thought Half-Life had a relatively interesting story, but it doesn't come close to MGS in my book. 

Posted by Kazona

Interesting how a man who's lifelihood has been cut-scenes is condemning games for having too many of them. I mean what does that say, when a famous director who's main thing is to make movies say that games need less of them?

Posted by HoldenLaFayette

I'm going to guess that Spielberg either hates RPGs or has never played one. Many of Bioware's games have been better than the movies he's made in the last decade or so just in terms of script, characters, and overall narrative. Bioware's games all flat-out void what Spielberg is saying above, with all the choices and outcomes you're given. If I knew him, I'd recommend Mass Effect. It reminds me of Blade Runner.

What's up with movie-industry-related dudes like Spielberg and Ebert crapping on the cinematic side of games, anyhow? I want there to be a POINT (or at least a pretend one) when I'm out there pretending to stomp dudes.

Posted by mubress

Would generally agree with Mr Berg on the cutscenes point, but if they are intigrated well into the game (like some but not all places in MGS4) then they can work.

Online
Posted by studnoth1n