Today on the Comcastro podcast, Maximüs Groves and guest host Matthew Queen talk with Andrew Greenberg, President of the Georgia Game Developers Association, member of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, helped to found the Mythic Imagination Institute, and is co-chair of the Mythic Journeys convention. Greenberg, a game designer of tabletop role-playing games and role-playing video games, was one of White Wolf Publishing’s original game developers for Vampire: The Masquerade and has worked on such titles as Mall Tycoon, Fading Suns, Dracula Unleashed, and Rapture: The Second Coming. Over the course of two hours, we speculate with Andrew on the state of the gaming industry, debate the virtues of gaming, and reflect on the evolution of the art form. The conversation turns to military applications, cognitive effect, the legacy of Street Fighter, and the power of myth.
Good evening Internet Good evening. People come Castro leave a lot of Lucy on says Max grow some after you Queen So here’s our interview with Andrew Greenberg of the Georgia Game Developers Association is the president of the association. If you remember it is one of the most inspirational given in these lists I’ve ever read that he is not only a developer He is also a designer a creator and an industry lobbyist he is in the business more than anyone else and what’s fascinating about his perspective is that he spends all of these things professionally. Now he was saying in the interview that he basically is doing what he can to essentially represent Georgia mechanism attractive investment for creativity while games actually get to participate in that sweet film tax credit that they keep renewing and to build up in the in the entertainment industry. Yes I mean that film tax credit directly affects gamers just as much as it does television and it shows this passion for games that goes all the way back to role playing stuff he actually wrote the game mechanics and they applied and that’s great. Way back and let’s talk a little bit here because we certainly have very different minds. Going into it I want to talk about games. Yeah yeah and not to be simpliciter like mass reproduced body wasn’t. He’s like Yeah it was and was yeah this is like a ping pong interview a man tries to get beats and I want to get light and it’s going to come across because one one question is going to be like you know what is that which is a game and does that affect us morally The next question is like the canonical man I think that I don’t even know how to edit this to chop this up into a hundred pieces or just let it go. It’s really still one of the most exciting things for me that people whose games I loved in junior high and I gave my friends and peers were growing up oh well what were those camps like the passionate ones for. Where that not two way back with the of one Railroad Tycoon could work with admirers and stuff but you know said Mind you he actually can do one of my projects but wasn’t his fault and I feel like I should be saying we’re not like Microprose way back when we released our game with Microprose and at the same time they were getting bought up by spectrum how they were going up or if we’re trying to do for the fading sun again with them had a lot of content and then they had purchased and they changed directions and if it was only in charge and they were having to kill a bunch of projects and ours is one of them. So the greatest respect for him even though he did can one of our projects and that’s I mean he’s one of the mainstays I just thought it was a shot of super N.E.O.’s which I understand is not the way you want to discover a game like that but even there even as clunky as that interface was in one thousand nine hundred three or four The game was super addictive. I mean I just like I mean like the concept of being kind of an eternal ruler over the civilization and trying to build it up to go to the stars was so far beyond anything else I was playing at the time. Even so my R.P.G. like that you still didn’t get to have that that feeling of dominion over the people like. It really wasn’t an act or easier to be the closest thing that they had as many segments where you were kind of like God and like trying to farm the land to prevent the demons from killing your people that sort of thing but civilization was as immersive and again like from about nine or ten year old boy’s perspective like this was it was totally unique and I consider I mean fit I can sort of the best game design I think that may Moto has had the best deal for innovation in player needs as they hand me a moto the Super Mario Mario Donkey Kong everything and let a dear friend of mine who’s passed away and said Danny button was the best multiplayer game designer. Who has ever existed to games called Mule and modem wars this is back when you could only use a modem for multiplayer or feed it or whatever and before it well before internet gaming of any type other than mainframe gaming he she would make an incredible multiplayer games is incredibly innovative. But overall game design nobody tops Oh and Will Wright obviously can do building even better than Sid Meier’s can do but nobody does game better then fit Myers and over and over again he’s had to say he is really funny said Mars one who told me kind of every other games the really good one but Railroad Tycoon creates really an entire genre. Atari tries to claim was that which is ridiculous. The civilization best game of all time right. If you on that one. And I mean elephant tour I takes some really neat applications of things even as flight game for a lot of fun and groundbreaking for their day. Well I have a question about sort of I mean the perhaps most popular comment to it is just one more turn and then it’s done. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah you start it five six P.M. and six A.M. You’re still playing it. So your truth want to get that next check your philosophy is like the relationship between games and what they accomplish perhaps the logically or like socially in a sort of like I’m in like the core of what makes up our ideology of kind of the world in a sense is it ethical to completely sort of consume someone in this way. So the idea of is it ethical to provide a person the interaction that they want. OK I would say yes I mean unfortunately we aren’t. Now to tie them to the chair and for pics and unfortunately make them go away. But there is an interesting argument going on within the industry and I think it’s a very good one for us to have about the ethical responsibility of the game designer and the companies themselves. What should they be providing. Are there things they should be avoiding So we have an obligation to our players to provide them a positive satisfying experience. What does that mean that does vary by person which is why we have so many genres of games we differ types of games with different types of game mediums so many different platforms etcetera. But we as all humans have some sort of responsibility to society. So do those two clash at any point and I think it’s great for us to continue doing discussion into push the industry in both directions so on the one hand when we work in the publisher of a game that also put out a game called postal at one point which was a game about you go postal and shoot things. Yeah just go shoot stuff and I was a controversial guy. They love the folks who made as much controversy as they could and were very upfront just out just like a manhunt right which was just see how a manhunt was going for. They did some very innovative gameplay things is how I post it was very much about chewed it up great folks right folks but they’re very clear about what they want to do. So there’s a place for those but there’s also games like remission which in my mind is the gold standard of gaming a fun game that keeps children alive. Children who play remission and have childhood character are statistically more likely to survive that cancer than children who have cancer and do not play this game. So what is remission. It is a game that basically personalizes and dramatize is their condition and there’s their therapy. So kids who play this game will have a better attitude about their chemo and about their condition they’re more likely to stick to a chemo regimen they’ll be more actively involved in their chemo regimen and good science shows that kids with cancer play this game are more like surviving kids who don’t you say this is actually fun like is this more sort of like a life process management Nelsen F.P.S. F.P.S. first person shooter. So if it’s going to be like personify the cancer’s like a dark villain to destroy yet how does the game you know you can reach back to a degree I mean the things are there to be fought. So I mean it’s not a completely accurate anatomical representation but they’re not humanizing the mothers of the Iliad right. Or or the rains ern they always humanize the disease. So yeah no I mean foreign is a disease and we are the cure. Yeah absolutely. But. But anyway it for the industry when we’re talking about our ethics we have an ethic we have a responsibility to our fans we have an responsibly to society but we also have an responsibility to our industry and this is too often the one that we overlook. We do need to push the boundaries of what we do just like Fellini had to push film and to some degree Deep Throat had to push the idea of film what can you do in films and slaves to the massive success Brando pushes the idea of filled both in on the waterfront and in Last Tango in Paris dramatically different films but trying to really push what you are going to accomplish in film so we in games need to also focus on how we push that industry in games that are more innovative that really take this. These tracks and into great things there’s been criticism of the larger companies for not really doing this for playing it safe or going for sequels etc in that Indies games like braid which is a wonderful look at that time are the ones that really start driving the industry on the other hand the bigger companies are really driving the interactive experience to a great degree now. So I love the sport. I mean the idea that people are making millions of dollars playing games I love just that but I also love the community that grows up around these the interaction with players and fans that grows up between Eve It’s not like major league baseball where you have let’s see twenty six on a bunch of different teams a few hundred people on that level and a few thousand on the minor league level than everybody else in competitive sport. You’ve got you know these these really high level teams doing a bunch of the other creatures etc are really good but everybody else can really aspire to get to that level and there’s not that huge differentiation between them a major league or minor league one that’s like blew my mind it’s like the entire fan base of. He is sports in general like this massive convention halls of people watching. Right I’m like freaking out how is he Sports Star Craft two and defense of the ancients and I thought those were real time they are out again. Except people know being professional competitors in these games. Wire County sports yeah crazy. Interesting we have e-mail we have e Sport and I think Larry and actually I like college scholarships they have in the US to know what colleges have some smaller ones. I’d have to look at the still not widespread in the U.S. but there have been a nice publicity about the schools that have started doing that and I as a gamer it’s hard to describe myself as a gamer anymore I’m basically piggybacking off of young Matthew who played games like all the time but I mean we had in the industry you lose any opportunities to play you have to force. Yourself to play well you know I stopped playing after law school and part of the reason is in a time crunch but like I don’t feel welcome in first person shooter games. The and the problem I have is that if you are an X.-Box that’s it you’ve got Halo or you get that feeling that called it in. Like everything else is kind of like you can tell that’s not really the creative money in the creative talent is being fed into like that industry and maybe that puts a lot of people on mad to make sure that comes out every year and then like when you’re talking about like Will Wright come out like some city or our city our civilization some of us more real innovative games they’re they’re not they’re not the big blockbuster tentpole games which I think that’s kind of echoing what you know did Nintendo want few Yeah I know I don’t know if I had a really good public sports you know it’s a very simian intend to figure that out that those those polled folks who thought that they were the hardcore gamers and not the audience for games anymore everybody is now the audience for games and if you only have a few hours to put into it give them a control system they can easily pick up and understand give them Smash Brothers and let them go crazy you know the thing is there’s a social component to it too. If you have a life outside of out of your job it’s there’s not that much YOU can happen to me once you’re grown up you’ve got a hobby and like a. There’s like I do one thing a thing of the day right. Yeah so I if I want to appear all over employed in play games I’m actually getting into board games now because it’s very simple to explain munchkin or card you know we were saying earlier we just got you into college through the D.N.D. knock off from calcium and I’m a jerk. Taylor Well I guess you’ll die first and best I mean we gave this gold to Lou is to either die the most spectacularly or go in thing with the most drama the only goals to the game. Why wasn’t anyone telling me before because first thing I do is punch my girlfriend the stomach and I got it good. Well I think math is often bring out like repressed anxieties in people’s lives now that they have an opportunity to express them in a new persona so they’re always sort of doing that. I’m like this is going to be a bigger conversation right. It’s very interesting because marketing people really like to say big games are about wish fulfillment and marketing folks will push this on designer’s nonstop this is about wish fulfillment people wish they had this power. That’s like porno. Honestly out to it to a certain degree but an A C. at the end and I to be honest games are rarely about wish fulfillment how many times is the game about your family’s died now if you don’t do something because of it no I want to be on Atlantis without the battery back to Lee and that’s not true. Nobody wants to be intimate and it’s a classic example I want to live that life. Punisher goodness gracious we know we want to actually be that so it is more in my mind sort of wishful feel it is about exploring different life dynamics and power dynamics are important part of that so people do want to explore this level of how can I impact the world in the virtual world how going to impact the world differently than how I do it. One of things I’ll often talk to the new game designers about they’re going on about how I make my game fun I’m really focusing on the fun is we realize in game design that fun is a part of the equation but it’s not always the main part people who are in World of Warcraft in a farming timber from one end of the world to the other will never say that they’re having fun but they’re having a faddish fine play experience they’re accomplishing the things they want to accomplish to greater goals that’s not fun. What doesn’t the speaker like the ethics of it like the idea of like the complete like consumption of before we get back into ethics or are you just sounded like mile high school band director he was a total no he was a genius I.Q. back out on the field you have five more hours of practice can do that he was a slave it is August but you’re not done what he thinks he’d be in my head. You never were successful that I never got this lesson until after high school but you know he used to be in our heads like not all music is made to just be catchy tunes like it’s not always pretty even you know like you know I was disagreeing I was like even the set had tunes should be pretty big last stand with an E. They all are just half of them I guess like maybe I was like I was going to have the inside jokes or the video games. Anyway no more they go and so what you’re describing there is a fundamental quality of our Like it’s not always supposed to be enjoying it right. But it’s interesting because the idea of how do we get me late somebody is another interesting perspective of the game industry is really only now stepping stones into I really pushed the idea of being a satisfying play experience needs to satisfy something. Art will often say we are not trying to satisfy We are trying to defend it by we are trying to create cognitive dissonance we are trying to break people out of their faith secure it’s just like if anything it’s just a confrontation. Change sometimes it’s pleasurable Zaveri and sure so the games who do that are very limited and relatively controversial within the if you do create that uncomfortable. Feeling in their players and currently there are any doubts there are big financial successes which is a problem because of it’s a lot do you have a lot more money to most games than you do in most paintings composing a piece of music I mean my father was a composer so I know what goes into it and I don’t watch with him again. Well you know what’s funny is you know one of things I really love the Will Wright is that he opened up my mind to what gaming can be because here’s the thing you know after she gave me a motto you know really just create a whole bunch of brilliant things with Donkey Kong and Mario you start to see a lot of clones come out they’re good ones too like Mega Man just another side scroller and a lot of ways building on Mario and then to get Sim City. What like how is that even remotely related to everything that had come before it was I mean it was as profound as like when Charles Darwin said like oh by the way here’s a unifying theory about how to actually do so well that a former like soil out of mana is like the origin of the species for video game like development where there’s plenty before me Moto but me a moto I think is the one who really focuses more on player experience than anyone had done before so much of the early work was on the technical accomplishment and the emote it was definitely more focused on that delicate incredible transcendent almost player experience and the idea of a frickin plumber battling a gorilla with barrels and it’s wonderfully satisfying at the same time. But. A you like will write mainly because he’s out of Georgia. We know that and I do know that you are no tech connection gave nobody comes back and speaks every now and again but do you know how Sim City came into existence you know that we’re going it so he did a game that I loved on the few sixty four is a kid called radon bungling beta helicopters Bertha ships combat game is very fun very well put together I put in a fair number of hours into it. So what right did this game and had more fun with a level editor for it than he did with the actual game putting together levels the ships all these things just love building with it and he said I need to make this a game so he turned that into this city building engine it became Sim City and as many people of the time argued it’s not really a game is that a toy is that a simulator what is it. Yeah you don’t have a a real big end goal and that’s why in Game one we now have all these different theories about the interactive play experience and things like that I have heard that will write some favorite game was go. Very likely I mean there are a lot of game design if you do love go like Oh where would you call your origins at least I’m like sort of board game strategy and what they describe. Go for that. Oh many many people who don’t know so much won’t go with a classic Japanese strategy game about conquest of territory so chess is very much about killing it’s very much the Western style of warfare and like there are classes of society as it matches sort of particularly in motion in the world. Right but the but the you have with the way you win it is you have to go through the hierarchy of pieces in chess till you’ve captured the king. He checked the King and King a do nothing in that into the game. Go is very much about territorial acquisition more than it is about taking pieces it’s about strategically placing your unit around a map to support each other and cut off the other side it is very much five rings as opposed to Charlemagne. Also I like the irony of goes it almost takes more time to figure out what the score is and who won but it is to even play RIGHT RIGHT ALL MY LIFE I LOVE go away scoring it it’s like it’s constant pattern analysis so you see like like. Three My three tile grid that looks like a whim but then that’s like defeated by the adjacent one like the entire story becomes basically it grows out of it’s a forest instead of the trees you know where ice chest is always the immediate battle in fact these two games are always used just like the press we describe games as artifacts of the cultural values versus the furniture and but part of the idea of go is it is very much a building game and support game so if you do support my bishop or has a line of sight in my pond so you’re less likely to take my pond but it go is all about building up those support networks. So it is very much exciting so that’s why you will hear a lot of game developers talk about enjoying go because the first time you played it you think oh I’m taking the other person’s pieces being their stones on the other hand you quickly realize now that’s not what I’m trying to do I’m trying to build a civilization here that will stand the test of time or at least. One game and it works out pretty factually that way and do you think that goes a superior game to chess or are they just different. They’re significantly different they’d They definitely fulfill different purposes they do have kind of an unfortunate tendency that I’ve seen because of how much history they both have. So that both of them the first time you play you start seeing these strategies and it’s eye opening you have a great time doing it but then to really get past a certain point you have to really see what other people have done and you have these chess books in debt got to play out all the classic games feel the classic moves go has some of that as well and I’ve never got a top level view these buy here that once you get to a high enough level you start seeing the new strategies beyond that and then it becomes I opening one more time but there’s this middle level of just grinding through the play experience you have to get level one to ten is great experience level sixty the grind a little seventy is all the great new content I’ve heard from co-workers that when men want to propose in Japan that they have to play the father in law to go. I’m going to study thoroughly the game and try to figure it out. Just be good enough and lose without embarrassing themselves or if you can’t beat the father. Still maintain honor for all parties. Not that those two games that was I mean I mean I’ve been on speaking a choir that they fascinate me and how you know many are chances and you know whenever you look at like are knights on the battlefield like that that I was very much like a reflection of our culture. They look at some like Mao Zedong who led a revolution he was a legendary Go player at least that’s what I heard and you know where what did he do he maximised guerrilla warfare. I mean like it’s like it keeps repeating itself throughout the ages. Any maximize present support. Yeah he really went for the present support I mean that whole longest march up to the nether regions of China and then surviving in building there was really so focused. On building those support networks that are trying to go I don’t know about Mao’s playing abilities. If I could beat me but it it does show that same thought pattern. Do you have like a source game like go is like sort of inspirational flavor from the past goes back to the roleplaying game side I would say that my my really favorite one that has a lot of my work with a game called rune quest that roleplaying game so we’re going to drag really pulls in the middle logical components in a very strong fast saying way desire that Greg Stafford and I’m glad to be able call a friend one of the say the talk on the industry where this is one of those industries where you play a game you just love it may gain if you realize you can know these people be friends with them be their peers which is a wonderful experience but I had this wonderful mythological basis for the world and the rules system really supported that a supposed it all kind of being slapped together. So give it like whenever you’re designing a world do you ever have that moment of like. Why does the speed of light the way it does that it doesn’t like our whole universe like us now it’s so precarious except upon these unwritten rules that we discover in physics like well it’s just like good software it’s all it’s all predicated on I guess it’s all back to the original and the object the first object he defined what kind of define a lot of the other things you do later on in the entire program. It often works out that way that emergent patterns and I think that actually the core principles you will focus on early on and what you’re doing will really define everything else later on and this is very true in games. You’ll say I want to game that focuses for the fading Thunder game as an example we want a really good lactic spanning game of conquest where military politics religion heavily but at the same time we need to find ways to constrict it so we’ve got to drive every one through. Like many ships all over the galaxy all of the universe like NASA Ryan we’re focusing them through Jumpgate in order to really streamline the conflict and forth the political dimensions and so forth. So these early constraints and desires then really ripple out to form the rest of the game the universe we design and so forth just like like the resource shift and like you say just set for a sort of rebalancing the power of a spot where you can spend on be it all over you and so this is what the universe is with suddenly deciding there will be a speed of light rule which we’ve defined troth very separately from how the universe is defined we’re going to we’re going to like a mule game a book now or like all the angles are discussing while I was working on Love the other day but then I really tore me to pieces. I blame it’s always old and small isn’t it. Any and every time you notice the support Odin around here. Oh of course I do and I’m going to on our own right now by spearing you in the chest and throwing you off the roof and realize you have left and they may have a role playing games are your thing I mean civilization is obviously being inspiration for me. Earlier before we start recording a song what do you call mule by Danny button which is an incredible multiplayer experience has a fantastic theme song to it’s actual Yeah yeah yeah it’s been right next to lights all over Pandora. Yeah so you’ve got the video game tandoor channel. I grabbed the ship to independent track I can’t listen I want to join in the car. Actually you were telling the band the other day about guilty pleasures and she was a kid he was trying to tell you there should be no guilty pleasures Matthew And it out and not everyone’s on board with that philosophy. Sometimes with all of the guilt makes it pleasurable Bapak So remember a man getting into the dark side of mythology. Yeah we’ve been trying to keep it from being controversial so it’s time to avoid games for the country if you can get into religion I think. Well but I do want to just like. Talk about role playing games and their explosion odds are against religion. Let’s do that first. Well there’s a lot of talk but went with role playing games and listen I was younger I kind of unsheltered but it just didn’t feel like they were big Final Fantasy is the one that comes to mind was on the N.A.S. It was always there. Nintendo Power loved it but that didn’t necessarily translate into sales and then number seven hit it was like No I mean like explode it and then after that the J R P G’s were all over the place in American the Westerner but you start to catch up. What I mean what do you think happened there. Some technological limitations is very funny so early on in in home computers there were a number of attempts at D.M.D. style games or various R.P.G. self is very hard to incorporate a lot of the elements to it I remember you telling card to do a great job of creating a progressive maps of you can do math be different every time but I still see very little stats all the monsters are going to be the same although if you can hack gnat hack Robey these things are all classic early things there were great ones or the remember back in when I was in college way back when in one thousand nine hundred eighty six when I was a freshman in college in my dorm I got a game called fantasy with a Ph D. and never let the fantasy star no no no no no. Completely different and we played four of us in the dorm during our final exams in spring. We’re then in quarters drink orders. I played it in shifts nonstop around the clock for that one week to finish it. So all we did was play fantasy go to take our exams and occasionally sleep and all of us ended up on Dean’s List at quarter past but it was it was great that my camera sixty four set up and there are always two people on it we had a map by hand and this automatic New Kids get these days. We had to get graph paper out map by hand uphill both ways in the snow. So if there were a fantasy dungeon that Dungeon Master if there was a good wizardry The Wizardry series was wonderful really well done by another N.G. Greenburg people often get emails when he still went to conventions we would get each of the fuselage you know it’s a huge one when I write there’s one guy here in town with work with both of the age of GREENBERG But it’s obvious that these were and S.S.I. one of one of all publishers also did the Dungeons and Dragons line of R.P.G. and try to figure out. Again these are very early how to make that we’re going to be pretty successful. It’s console side we had a hard time getting R P G’s to really break through and that’s when it took the Final Fantasy’s and like it’s hard to find console side really successful R.P.G. S. until then the P.C. side they did exist. Like all to my right my all to migrate Yeah yeah Gary It did great work with that one all the way through. Wonderful stuff and some people like one and not the other but I’ve enjoyed all of his games all the way through if they are just technological issues or was there a cultural undertone there. The publishers who are going to funny things didn’t think the R.P.G. market was really there for the consul health it took a successful title to prove it before they would do it. I you know I suspect I really don’t know what your thought on ages because when I was younger I was of the absolute youngest people to hit the N.T. Yes but I was definitely one of the introductory classes to it and there just there are a lot of kids out there where I think maybe the game is kind of over their heads and then as you see people grow up and there’s a larger market of fifteen sixteen twenty four year old people who are kind of salivating for something that’s a little more complex then you know you have a kind of a perfect blend of you know technology catches up at the right time for the population I think that the publisher viewpoint I don’t think that’s true I think that twelve year olds. In younger really can can access of ideas well and get into it very effectively one of things I love seeing in M M O’s is what we call generational play where you see a grandparent playing with a grandchild my kid might be eight or something even younger I played online games where there is an eight nine year olds are far more mature than a lot of the adults who are playing so much trying to play in their comments to text with better spelling. Nobody really presented it to them so as long as it wasn’t out there it was a self reinforcing idea that R.P.G. program be successful and consuls until the audience was more mature I think that is a concern that was out there and limited the growth of R.P.G. something what are we seeing sort of like a clash of clans. Well let’s say cultures and when it comes to as gamers kind of come together right largely from let’s say publishers have kind of tried to take a more maybe inclusive view trying to create like up opportunities for women or minorities or people less represented in games and yet a lot of people are saying very extreme sort of hesitate. I’m from that and many cultures within like kind of ingrained gaming things like they say that this is ours and you’re trying to like rewrite our environment for well the Sunnis the opposition it pops up. We always have the problem defining how much of this is real and how much of this is one person with ten fifteen twenty accounts yelling and screaming on all of them. What we see from market response is the games that reach out to broader audiences do very well Sam this I think is still the best selling P.C. line in history not just Sim City but Sims and Sims did a great job of reaching out to all sorts of audiences across gender lines across other demographic lines racial lines. Better was very inclusive in what you could play and do within the game and has the financial success to prove that that was desirable strategy in fact it is arguable that the less inclusive a game is a various cultural groups the less financially successful it will be him it’s a reason that you now see very few games where there is no female at all represented in it and it’s not just because people complain or why are there women in the game it’s because those games actually sell better than ones that are just have the male characters. OK Earlier you said you joked we could avoid the controversy of religion and games as they correspond earlier as we’re talking you’re describing like the rewriting of sort of a cultural I don’t know if those are meth or understanding of like the path of like the hero or the story as it comes as a byproduct of games like I had mentioned a strain that looks like a party in D.N.D. of sorts that was like building out and building the story based purely on that right. Like these nice accomplishments the conversation is nearly deep enough for your audience. So the conversation we had before was about some of the core mythological underpinnings of our society. I’m focusing primarily on United States of cyber somewhat Western the idea that for maybe a century United States culture has been strongly defined by the cowboy architect the idea of a lonely hero who has his own code of ethics that he lives by and succeeds because he sticks to this code of ethics in the face of extreme adversity extreme pressure to change those is very self-reliant and is often not tied to society can leave society and go on to the next town that at any moment. So in many ways this can be said to have started in the Daniel Boone Davy Crockett days. Pioneer you don’t need to be tied to society or create something new else or do it on your own and then really sees an explosion in the writing of the newspapers with the Wyatt Earp send the doc holiday’s and the rest who were huge cultural heroes of their time and continues to be an underpinning of society until we get into gaming with a co-operative play mindset. So all of these heroes succeed on their own with cooperative gaming. The party can no longer feed on its own though the world is set up in such a way that everybody has to do their specific job successfully in order for the party to succeed. In older T.V. shows you might have an I spy with Bill Cosby or mission impossible you would have people with. But they can all kick ass individually each one could break somebody’s neck without giving it a second thought on the other hand in the modern party especially let’s use the Animo idea in in video games. You’ve got a tank who have to hold the aggro and he’d better not be trying to heal on the side the healer needs to go ahead and keep that tank up the whole time and better not be trying to go do D.P.S. D.P.S. had better be doing the D.P.S. and I don’t hold aggro G.P.S. but the digital promotion. No damage per second so the idea everyone likes to show just how much they can kick ass and the best way to show it is how much damage they go up or second because some people will do it in one big hit. Others do it over time so they cast a curse on someone and slowly that damage builds and builds and builds to that same shift like reflect maybe like even further back math like like the American cowboy is sort of emerging out of like America right. Whereas like from before that you have sort of like the slaughterings ethos which seems to match where you’re describing is like needed roles to like bring. One thing most interesting because culturally we’ve had we’ve had book so we think of the defeatist myth and it’s his story. But instead the Iliad while it’s focused on Achilles is really requiring somewhat of a party. Jason the Argonauts is very much a party even though Jason is the guy. Perseus is a whole different example of the one guy out there most most of the Thor myths are about Thor but that a whole bunch of them are about him and Loki Loki is not the bad guy often requires Loki’s trick sternness to get him out of the situations and so forth so they both have had their play Arthurian legends. Everybody tonight everybody can just really well and the best of them but then when you come to the Grail saga it’s not about their ability to fight that matters it’s about who they are as a person and their willingness to sacrifice and so forth it really starts coming out and so you do see both playing through. I have a hard time really saying what I think the cultural underpinnings are of those other societies. The early Americans were talking about the founding fathers that our early American myth George Washington a great guy but it’s George Washington with the troops to really forge crossing the Delaware etc Our crew Harvard graduates making a country you know it’s own luminati kind of life up kick them but there’s a place now culturally across a history. Check us Con You know obviously he was he was a masterful tactician but part of what made him so dangerous is the fact that he could send out large you know what other people could sort of the entire armies out to the flank and they would encircle you know your people and he wouldn’t be in charge of them at all you know they all had complete knowledge. You know at least enough specialization there to be able to kind of run run an operation on their own. So instead of I guess again what what what you’re seeing is like the way that you know. Genghis Khan gets kind of glorified it totally aligns what you’re talking about with you know the great deal specialization kind of an anti cowboy myth coming out of the largest empire and whenever that met people have I’ve actually wondered like what would happen if changes convert or go up against European nights Roman. Well I happen it happened in Hungary the Hungarian knights were every bit as vicious as what they had in France and England and they just slaughtered me I mean did Genghis Khan and substance get OK died in his house and then the con just just destroyed it because the concept of having one guy in charge. I mean obviously you have to have a brain but the rest of that army operated like a bunch of locusts. OK And I have to say those well enough to really say what I would think the main architects or for them I would say that for America through the eighteenth one through the one nine hundred twenty century cowboy architects the one and I mean we see that with politicians we see that in T.V. movies the one hero I think Star Wars while there is a party involved it is very much. Luke Skywalker story in it he says that matters to the overall drama on the other hand are good when it’s really a story about Darth Vader. How do you say the founding fathers relate to their cowboy archetype. Well it’s pretty chaotic up work doesn’t really start being the dramatic underpinning story until later I mean the classic The Last Of The Mohicans yaps about folks going off into the wilderness to do their thing. But and it is about being the last of a people separate from society like so maybe we’re seeing the beginnings of that myth at that point. But founding fathers is before that there is a story or perhaps heart of darkness like and then we you know we do start seeing it really played out in the twentieth century I mean Shane which is a classic novel isn’t written during cowboy times is written the twentieth century and that really spells out how this is. Archetype works and you can say to a great extent that the most successful movies and books through that period really show this idea one person their own code of ethics succeeding because they stay true to that and are as a result a superior person. So who are what is the new American myth. So now we’re getting into the idea and it is transformer that is happening now so it’s not completely taken hold yet but I think it’s in process of the cooperative hero where nobody succeeds on their own you need people with their own skills and abilities to make things happen or this is the most classically dramatized by the recent movie six of the biggest movies of the past two years have been the Avengers. Nobody can succeed on their own they need the party immensely practical screen time who’s got the most billing and that it really depends what you think is cutest on the other hand and then we have garnered the galaxy against us we have one major hero but it’s not going to succeed without everybody doing their own thing really well which is coming out of that. That cooperative gaming that exact conflict seems to be like the Star Wars versus serenity. Right right right right right. Obviously in many ways a hero but I ain’t no way you can see when you look Skywalker will destroy the death star on his own because he is true to the force. Well are you developing anything right now working on a couple of projects we have a longstanding science fiction universe my capitalistic design incorporated we have a longstanding science fiction universe called Emperor the fading fading sun which is our main role playing line the first computer game with Emperor the fading suns in the miniatures line called noble or Mata and currently working on two different titles one which is the a new mobile version of our noble Armada spaceship combat game and maybe we’re playing around with the idea of a new era for the things that I also am president of the. George A Game Developers Association and within that I represent everybody who makes games within our state we become one of the ten largest states for game development in the country. We have some excellent studios here Ira studios tripwire interactive Zevi it Games it work. Cartoon Network has a game studio Adult Swim obviously make some great games as well. We’ve got a fair number of very good folks here working on games so that it’s been taking up more and more of my time the idea is to not only improve how games are seen in Georgia but actually to improve the industry to improve our connections with academia to improve the quality of people here a lot of focus on workforce development here work with public entities to ensure that gains are seen as the strong driver of a technological industrial sectors that really are it’s really interesting that you will see. How gain video game digital game development is so tied to strong tech clusters and no one’s going to say that game dev is the reason why San Francisco is a tech up but the fact that Atari started there is the reason there are so many game companies the fighters are making probably mean a lot of folks who want to go there even if they don’t stay in games they branch out into the major feeder into the rest of the tech interest. I remember there was like an early story of people who taught themselves basically vector calculus by designing asteroids. Oh yeah and then we see lots of stories like that people met each themselves coding because they want to make a game and we see those people are successful here. I mean the chairman of the association that I run is Chris going to started an Internet security company that got great fame and a class of class Class class computing and then I was right over here I have heard a very big building. He’s running a virtual reality studio now and loving creating tools for Game Design View things that he wanted to have he want to be. Tools for making gains and that means making them so what’s like are there any exciting trends you’re seeing in a video game industry like kind of going forward there are a lot right now we’re in a wonderful time for game def some of them are play are have already seen kind of their their initial stages in their explosion like the growth of indie gaming that’s been wonderful and all the digital distribution mechanisms we have I had most of my successes working for the classic publisher model where we were a development house the publisher would give us an advantage we make a game for the fading sun of Machiavelli the prince merchant prince small tycoon whatever and the publisher to give us money to do that and then we get royalties after that event has paid back. We did all right with that model we are very different from the recording industry in that we actually get our royalties and I don’t for the recording stars but. That model’s long passed and while it worked very well for me I don’t promote all these Indies do they come out with these great new games would never have happened under that old model. So India’s one each sport to the second I love the committee is coming out and we talk about the sport before my favorite thing about sports is that community that’s coming out of it. I love this we have this there are huge communities around traditional sports but when you see the focus on of my teams better than your team Atlanta is better than New Orleans etc etc Well I love seeing at the e Sports events or the top competitors go on about how much they respect each other. People the audience were fans of one team are also fans of the other team. Part of this is based on how the commercial pressures of this are set up if you can be successful each sports team you’re running a big You Tube channel and you will get big because other people are promoting you who’s pro sports teams so you get an office across promoting like mad but it’s also true that there’s a great deal of respect between players and fans because there is only a low level of skill difference between them. They are it’s not this dramatic difference between who can hit a eighty mile per hour fastball who get a ninety mile per hour. Our fastball it is that I can head shot any member of Team Dignitas in the right circumstances and possibly win a game against them and if I do things intelligently that can happen. So there really is a respectable knows what the level of ability is required. They like what the others do and like to think there’s a strong cooperative focus now building within that community. Yes you’re going to see people who are trolling within the game industry raising creating controversies unless they need to be any arguments can be made as to how significant those populations actually are or are they just a few people with a million screens are there actually that many people out there but for the most part you see a very co-operative group as a psalm not didn’t like how Eve Online. End of promotes invites grief thing as a mechanism to the entire system and then the flip side is League of Legends which is doing a beautiful job. I mean you leading every tech company from Facebook Twitter on in how to create a cooperative community that does not reward trolling behavior what so different. Man there are some great and one of the best there’s a game with converts come in San Francisco to be a march where every year they’ll kind of resent their latest findings on how to do it the main thing that I’ve really loved is level they’ve had not from banning folks but from rewarding the positive behavior and showing the negatives of the antisocial behavior of the of the behavior if you are one of their great findings is just how many people really do troll at some point it’s like almost everybody gains at some point will be a little bit of an asshole will be a grief or will be a troll or something along those lines. And there’s a recognition that that happened. So how do you ensure that’s like a one off and not their main level of play Satisfaction not their main way of enjoying the game and they come with a lot of different not. Philosophies on a specific task items can be done to prevent that level of grief. What’s his name. There’s one of the early writings on different types of players in the game. Before Richard Bach does this great breakdown of four types of players explorers achievers killers and socialism’s Yeah griefers are killers is the same idea and things Bartle said very early on is that it’s not that you have four types of players you’ve got four aspects that everybody is and it’s which are the more dominant ones overall which of them were not what I want to myers briggs came exactly so everybody’s agreed for everybody’s an asshole at some point but limiting that to being the minor part of their personality is very much money wise for the game to invite those different values right now exactly. You do want to fulfill those to some degree so in game design we have what are called four X. Games and this comes out of the strategy game. Tradition but really you see it in many tech types of games though and the idea is that in a game you should start with an expiration face now the Classic in civilization is you’re getting rid of the fog of war you find where the resources are you deciding where you want to put your city but it’s true in a lot of games you’re exploring the game itself from that what you can and can’t do as of those first levels of most platforms are here’s the earth easy things you know what you can do a jump see how you defeat an opponent to see how you get past obstacles etc Then there is a level of expansion and civilization you’re expanding areas control cities they’re taking over resources etc In other games you’re expanding your skill a billion of F.P.S. game you’re learning new headshots you’re learning how to do really targeted killing you’re learning to strafe. I mean the folks part of the reason so many people hate games they don’t realize they can strafe early on and they’re running up and backwards back and forth. Yeah. Then the third level is exploitation and not what you’d like it to be it just means exploiting resources to turn themselves into. Something so in Star Craft you’re getting the gas and World of Warcraft you’re going through the fourth to fourth thing a strip mining the world for your so you can build more research using the resources to make something else. Mario you someday become bigger so you can survive to learn if this is the way you have to do it you will have to take damage in order to succeed. So there’s that level exploitation the final phase which doesn’t work as well and a lot of the other games is extermination and this doesn’t mean you kill everybody else it means you take limit their ability to utilize their resources effectively. Clash of Kant clans and all these games online strategy games really show how that’s done where you’re raiding the villages really just can’t compete with you anymore. Before I came. So you’re giving each of those types of players really a chance to take a roll with it to have to have that part of their personality done exploration achieving socializing a little less so you can order the expansion phase of all that but not so much. But and the grieving is destroying everybody else so do you have her do you ever watch the You Tube Let’s play videos. Oh absolutely. How astonished are you when if you go back to again you know very well and you see someone rock it in a way you’d never thought of before we were to choose men who wants to like a guy just landed a bus on a skyscraper and the best thing in it for every game designer I don’t know a game designer who thinks otherwise is when players do things in the game they had no idea were possible this is actually one of the coolest things about each sport because that is happening so frequently and so quickly and then players left and then the designers have to hear Oh my gosh we’ve got to cooperate this immediately to protect what that sort of balance is going to be so that’s why juggling wasn’t straight fire. They had they they well the story goes that they did not plan the combos to work the way they were juggling is where you execute you know a series of punches and the. They have the opponent has no response and competitive lay competitive play in Street Fighter two the the arcade version. People started exploiting this and it was so popular that by Street Fighter two turbo or hyper edition they kept on the same when we concluded we did the Street Fighter roleplaying game way back when. But fun working on that I don’t know if that the truth or not but the tribe story is true one of the things people love doing in trying to skiing. That wasn’t meant to be in and so it’s only got this should be don’t run effect and it became one of the highlights of the game and any time you see that as a designer it is a wonderful experience to realize this is gone beyond what you thought it would be one of the one of the classic things for designers is that we do kind of have this ego that we know what’s fun and what’s fun for us and we’ll overlook a lot of other things and it really is kind of a wonderful moment when the game take on a life of its own and goes beyond what I thought was fun and it’s fun in more ways than I had thought it would be fun. So it’s very common for designers to design a game to be the most fun in the way I am thinking it’s fun when you play it other ways but the way I envision this is the fun path you’ll enjoy this passive mode most and when there are other ones that are great. As a game designer do you. So the example I’m going to get is that very recently I’ve seen days of my life kind of disappear when I was first exposed to incremental gaming. They like those little manipulate the the growth pattern of your cookies to in order to like explode into this and it almost seems to invite that mixed with the exploitation of perhaps micro transactions against children. You must imagine that. Is there a morality to design right. We talked earlier in this conversation about the ethics and responsibilities of a game designer. There is a school of thought within and then we also have a response to. Really to their financial wellbeing now and this plays out both ways especially in a free to play which means I will give people a satisfying free play experience. If you’re making a free to play that free experience should be satisfying for the player who cannot or does not want to expend those resources but should also create a satisfying play experience for that what are called wails of people spend a thousand dollars a month on a game I love the idea of people being able to play a game the way they want to play it first want to play that game for free. They should be able to do that well they want to pay a thousand dollars to be able to do the politically libertarian and my politically libertarian I work with every party I work with libertarian Democrat or Republican member of the greens because it’s sounds like the same way as like listen let’s people protect their gay marriages with marijuana and Firearms you know it’s like. It’s something somewhere sort of just giving people what they want to do they can figure out their own lives. Well we don’t want anyone actually shooting themselves one of the beautiful things about games is we there is no scientific correlation to violent behavior and that that’s been very well proven through studies and there is a good argument can be made a lot of the site backs it up at this stage that there’s a cathartic element to it but there’s definitely a correlation between the rise of gaming in our society and the decline in violent crime. There is almost a direct correlation with the explosion between the two. So we see a real crime wave in the mid eighty’s at the same time we’re seeing the decline then of the console market there is this fear that councils are going away and now in the ninety’s suddenly there’s the Wii booming of the console’s and we have a constant decline in violent crime sense that I’m not going to say that they are scientific. Because they should but there is a distinct feeling of what is it all is for the eighty’s crime wave it almost early ninety’s or whichever one it almost sounded like well we have seen a dramatic decline in Pirates which clearly corresponds to an increase in global temperature. But no I totally am on board with what you’re saying on the the idea that what you could to express rage right in ways that are suddenly like permitted and so it doesn’t become a socially exposed like you don’t see it taken that behave on the other side but don’t forget like people saw the Vikings like people live through Nazi Germany like there’s been plenty of violence like real not virtual violence or real violence and kids bounced back from that stuff. Maybe not all perfectly but like let’s get a little bit more credit like the human psyche to be able to bounce back as pretty horrible things so the idea that you know video games are going to lead to you know widespread violence is not scary tales no weight of jazz music that doesn’t know you know it well I know I was like oh well the poet. OK Plato had it nailed. So we’ve always had someone to blame. It has always been desire to blame someone else other than looking at the really deep issues that are about what the thing that I do hate when people blame games for violence is that they are ignoring the real root causes of what just happened especially when there’s a murder or something like that it comes out. They’re ignoring the child abuse and that person is I mean we do know what those those are common themes that happen in a murder has been in these these growth situations lies a mass murder whatever we do know where there is going to be some history of abuse of neglect etc and that that’s a common thread for all of these people violent video games is not one of them. I mean now we got a look at the fact that the many possibly the majority of our population have played violent video games and unfortunately they’re not murderers. So I know what game designers are not of our jobs are supposed to have done that by now. By the murder was a little bit there was another experiment where they’re trying to work and they were trying to test the effect of pornography exposure and may try to build a control group of men who would never find him. No In fact people describe it as like their store understand what that means. Well actually then this could be urban legend I’d heard they had found people who didn’t know who said that they did not look at porn are more likely to be sex offenders but OK But is there not like a social dysfunction of let’s say over indulgence of pornography. Like can you see like a sort of thing you know when you talk from personal experience what is it I don’t know about I’ll try to get that the only reason I get to that is a dimension and I have no I’ve never seen a scientific evidence to say that but I’m going to looking for thank you. It’s obvious I’m just and can is destructive. Well and I enjoy getting on they’re going to but it’s an addiction. OK So heroin is clearly an addiction are you going to say that pornography is like heroin. I have cigarettes Yes It fills a void and there is a level of if you did just hear from culture OK here’s a more general question what do you see as the general effect of like media as like an artifact upon the individual perhaps not to the strength of like a chemical connection but like how like life altering is like a story or even just like a gameplay experience that’s actually great argument right there. Yeah so the classic argument often used this way is if you want someone to be a Christian will you want them to read the Bible. If he’s going to have an impact on their lives. So yeah if you want to marry a Christian you probably want them to read a bible though yes historically lots of Christians could not read the Bible correct me evil times uttered so but yeah if you so obviously media. Can have an impact on somebody’s life. If someone going to be a better person just from reading the Bible I don’t think there’s any science that can prove that. So is that a part of being a better person. Some people can make that argument but no one can actually say that that literature that media is going to directly impact their lives in that way are they going to follow the golden rule because they are divided. OK finally I am going somewhere. Welcome to Comcastro. Viva La Revolution listening on my name is Maximus Groves and Matthew Queen as part two of our interview with Andrew Greenberg You might remember him as the president of the Georgia game developers association GGDA and this one is cute scale and again pretty much the same stuff we heard last time and just more of them keep it alive. You’re going to go on back and forth talking about what greening greens to culture and who gains we just members who are younger than racist. You know that’s that was isn’t it right to depart from the ethics just a little bit and you were talking about media. Let’s switch to medium. I think one of the most profound changes in the industry recently has to be sweet cell phones I mean you know the iPad the iPhone Samsung did you get a lot of Galaxy. Unfortunately I’m stuck with Samsung for a while. Long story short they are. Why did you predict that did you see all that color mobile the idea of being able to game everywhere has been a desire but there’s been a lot of thought that that would happen with with the car or things along those lines the games it did predict it was probably traveller if you’ve ever heard of this old science fiction role playing game where they everyone had their little handheld personal computer to do things. Shadow run is another better known game that predicted it in some ways but not really in the format that we ended up getting it. So the idea of having your personal digital assistant predate the smart phones pretty effectively the idea that would come out of our phone. And now that the phone component of our phones is a minor part of it is a pr