Wes Craven And Video Games: From the MI6 Game Marketing conference

By Dean Takahashi
Thursday, June 29th, 2006 at 12:18 am in Dean Takahashi, Nooch on Gaming.

Wes_craven I’ve never been a Wes Craven movie fan. “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream” were scary enough. But I just don’t handle horror well. Most of it doesn’t seem like high art to me, particularly by the time you get to the 6th Freddy Krueger movie. But what do I know. Craven’s movies have generated more than $1 billion in sales. And he spoke at the game marketing conference. Craven had some very interesting things to say about directing movies and telling stories. He had encouraging words about how games would come into their own.

Craven feels that marketers have underestimated young audiences. He taught college classes for six or seven years and concluded that young people are smart. They’re doing things, he said, like riding Motocross bikes in ways that show their creativity in inventing new sports. He felt marketers and artists should respect the audience.

He mused about why kids went to his movies and came out of them smiling and red-faced, not scared out of their wits. He said that movies put you in the role of the protagonist, allowing you to test how you would feel and behave in impossibly horrifying situations. It’s like practice for the real thing. You feel good when you come out because you have an idea of how you would handle that kind of experience. This seemed to be a perceptive thought, and he extended it to playing video games that simulate an experience.

What is interesting is that I’ve heard the same thing from Will Wright, the creator of “The Sims.” He happened to get a Hall of Fame award from the MI6 game marketing group just before Craven took the stage. Wright contends that even in games such as Grand Theft Auto, people are simply testing the possibility space of the game, rather than practicing for the real thing. You play it to know what it feels like, but not to go out and do it after you play it. Real art, Craven said, is reflective, not directive. If you go see a horror movie, it’s because you have these fears deep inside you that are seeking release. Not because you need the horror movie to tell you what to do in real life. You do go through the horror film experience as if you were going through a boot camp, to see how you’d react in that instance, and you come out ready for combat.

“If you scare the hell out of someone, maybe they don’t have hell in them anymore,” he said.

In an interview later, Craven said that is why he feels that criticism of games and horror movies is off base. He thinks that anything with deep stories, characters, and narratives ought to be considered forms of art. He mentioned how the story for Nightmare on Elm Street came to him in 1979. He remembered that when he was five years old, he had a nightmare. He asked his mother to help him, and she said she couldn’t. He realized he had to fight that battle, while he was sleeping, all by himself. He later read a story about a kid who died in his sleep, after he had tried to hold off sleep for four days and kept telling his parents that his nightmares would kill him.

As for games, Craven didn’t seem hardcore. He said he played Castle Wolfenstein, Doom, and SimCity. He said that becoming a brand name was a blessing and a curse. It helps that people recognize his name, but it doesn’t help when they pigeon-hole him as a scary movie maker. He said he was in talks to create an original game, but wouldn’t elaborate.

I asked him what he thought of the Hollywood-video game convergence. He said that it was true that the people who invest in movies have now realized that games are a big business. They’re no longer a side business, but something that can generate a big return. He said it was easy for people to criticize the games business rather than pin the blame for things such as Columbine on the failings of family or society.

I also asked him how games could elevate themselves to the level of movies. He said that it would be good for games to embrace a wider array of topics beyond those that “appeal to the 14-year-old males with too much testosterone.” Rather, he would like to see games that can teach something, like a simulation on how to combat world health problems.

“I haven’t found many educational games, but a lot of things, like world politics, could be done in a really funny way,” he said.

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5 Responses to “Wes Craven And Video Games: From the MI6 Game Marketing conference”

  1. Kotaku Says:

    How Scary, Wes Craven Making A Video Game

    Director Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream) tells The Mercury News journo Dean Takahashi that he was in talks to create an original game. Full stop. For better or worse, Craven, a casual player, seems like an ideal…

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Wes Craven via Dean Takahashi & Game Marketing Conf

    Dean shares his take on his recent Wes Craven Q&A in his blog including comparing some recent comments by Will Wright to Mr. Horror.

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  5. Sebastian Mosley Says:

    Wes Craven is brilliant as far as I’m concerned. I like how he said anything can be done in a funny way. You should check out the video for the Twisted Terror DVD Boxed Set( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0tHnViXpEQ )it’s absolutely hilarious!

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