To be honest I’m a bit dissapointed by the EIF. I came expecting to find some passion for the subject of games, interactivity and culture, when the majority of the speakers have been focussed on the market and how they can cash in.
Yves Guillemot was a great dissapointment, his talk focussed mainly on how Ubisoft plans to exploit the greater convergence between various forms of media to lower their costs and increase their profits, very dry. As we are beginning to see with Assassin’s Creed Ubisoft’s plan is to develope an IP across a variety of formats almost simultaneously, re-using assets and benefiting from each other’s marketing. There has already been an Assassin’s Creed movie mooted and there are aleady books ready for publishing alongside the game. This dilution of games across other media will, in my opinion, lead to lower quality games as the development cycle is compressed to tie in with other media’s cycles. I may just be being cynical and it might not turn out that way at all, I do think that Ubisoft are going to have a very painful time of it in the future if it doesn’t work.
I had grave misgivings about Endemol’s involvement in this festival, when games are fighting to be recognised as being worthy of consideration as a genuine art-form, all thats needed is for the makers of Big Brother to come in and produce content on a similar intellectual level as their TV output. Mr Cowley did have some interesting things to say about the TV industry as a whole though, in that it seems to be run by people who don’t understand the new forms of technology and the opportunities they provide. The prevalent attitude he said was that interactivity was often something which was bolted on as a afterthought and not develped in tandem with the actual TV product. Things to keep an eye on from Endemol are iLand and Signs of Life (more about Signs of Life in te coverage of Simon Nelson’s Talk). There was another talk about the business side of things which I didn’t attend, but was told later on that it was very very dull.
The best talk of the day had to be Hilmar’s potted history ov EVE, I’l be running down more about that in another post, but suffice it to say that he had the audience laughing quite a few times. The last talk of the day was from one of the founding father’s of the games industry. Ian Livingstone has been around since the 70’s, he was responsible for bringing Dungeons and Dragons to the UK, the Fighting Fantasy books that I grew up with as a lad, interntational table-top gaming company Games Workshop, and EIDOS, now one of Britain’s foremost games publishers and responsible for internationally loved characters, Lara Croft and Agent 47. His talk was about what makes a memorable character, in or out of games, and I’ll be looking at it in greater depth in a later post. Though he did seem to be using his address to push Kane and Lynch, IO’s upcoming cinematic action shooter, which looks very goob but doesn’t seem to offer anything new in terms of gameplay, I was talking to another member of the press and we agreed that it looked as though Kane and Lynch was pushing for a movie deal.
The final event of the day was the Edge award, but I’ll be talking more about that in a later post.
All in all, I found the day a bit nerveracking, I had too much coffee, spoke to a couple of interesting people. Got some business cards, handed a few out, and at the networking party afterwards got drunk on three beers and met more interesting people.