Rockstar VP Speaks Out on Casual Gaming, Wii

By Aaron Linde, May 02, 2008 2:54pm PDT Rockstar vice president and Grand Theft Auto IV co-writer Dan Houser said that though the gaming industry has shifted progressively towards casual experiences and a broader market, his company will stick to large-scale productions.

"Fuck all this stuff about casual gaming," Houser told New York Magazine. "I think people still want games that are groundbreaking. The Wii is doing something totally different, which is fantastic."

"We're hopefully going to prove that there's also a very big audience for people who want entertainment in another form, who think of games as being a narrative device that can challenge movies," he added.

Houser noted that future Rockstar productions will continue to focus on themes similar to those established in previous titles.

"They're gonna be about themes that interest us whatever the medium, instead of the weird, special video game-only themes that too many people make—orcs and elves, or monsters, or space," he said. "We felt you could make a good game and have it be about something we could actually relate to. Or aspire to."

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  • Everyone, players and makers alike are too keen to polarise gaming into these two forms, the 'hardcore' and the 'casual'. Most 'hardcore' gamers enjoy a small time-waster just as much as a 'casual'.

    One cannot so easily drawn parallels between the movie industry and the game industry, it occurs to me.

    Nomatter how shallow or engaging a film experience, the viewer is only that, a viewer, sitting still, engaging only his mind to understand a plot.

    The difference between the shallower movie-goer, keen on lighthearted chick flicks and comedy, or mild drama - and the viewer keen on big budget epics, horror and serial releases - is minimal when compared to the gulf between the hardcore and casual gamer.

    A game can require a little light reading, a few mouseclicks, barely more effort than watching a short film, but at the other end of the spectrum could require an investment in expensive computer hardware, a decent sized TV or monitor, well-made peripherals and many hours of dedication to a psychologically intense experience pushing your tactical thinking and reactions to their limits.

    The atmosphere of gaming as either violent and controversial, or an intense, professional sport in it's infancy both intimidate newcomers. The Wii is doing good work to draw the casual gamer into the scene gently, luring them in with a fun and kinetic experience to be enjoyed with friends, with the stealthy obligation to make good on your investment by buying more games; including deeper and more 'hardcore' titles.

    Rockstar are Spielberg, Lucas, Jackson, for the most part. They are not expected to make casual titles, and do not need to to make a profit. He's being a little harsh there, almost as though he feels threatened by the casual usurpers. Perhaps he's been badgered lately upon the subject.

    Really.. Neither genre has anything to worry about. Casual games are not going to leech hardcore gamers from the deeper hobby, nor are hardcore games ever going to eliminate the value of some light ten minute fun with an arcade title.

    They will only serve to benefit one another, mutually complimenting and filling in the gap left by the opposite.