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Rockstar's Houser Down On Transmedia, Games As Art Debate
Rockstar's Houser Down On Transmedia, Games As Art Debate
April 5, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

Ahead of Team Bondi-developed L.A. Noire becoming the first video game ever to be featured at the Tribeca Film Festival later this month, Rockstar Games creative VP Dan Houser downplayed the idea that the move somehow validated the medium artistically.

"We try very hard to avoid the debate as to whether games are art, as it tends to attract people with too much time on their hands," Houser said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. That said, he admitted new technology and production skill were helping games "move towards creative maturity."

Though Houser acknowledged that games are increasingly using the same kind of talent as Hollywood, he said the production processes between the two media were still rather divergent, owing to the very different nature of the experiences being created.

He also dismissed the obsession with "transmedia" properties in certain corners of both Hollywood and the games industry, noting that most attempts to launch a franchise across the game and movie worlds have ended up "pretty horrible."

"If you feel the property has something about it that is universal or could work in another medium, and it is not simply about making easy money, then that is something worthwhile," he said. "Too often, however, the aim appears to be to cash-in on the success of a particular game, book, pop singer, website, etc., and that usually produces mediocre results."

While Houser admitted the company has explored movie deals for many of their popular game properties, he said the amount of effort it would take on Rockstar's part to do it right would divert from its main focus on video games.

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JB Vorderkunz
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Word, Stephen! Transmedia differs significantly from traditional 'cross-media' approaches in that audience collaboration is central to the concept.

Jack Garbuz
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I liked this interview with Houser and particularly his statement that new technology and production skill were helping games "move towards creative maturity." Words long overdue in this wonderful medium.

Luis Guimaraes
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What does he mean by "move towards creative maturity"? Because it seems to mean that video games are creatively immature. The only meaning I can get for "immature creative" is something like a cheap spin-off of other creative works.

Banksy One
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Creative maturity in this article has to do with the Motion Scan technology, and how it has brought us accurate facial motion capture so that CGI actors look so similar to their real life models. That allows games to delve into a whole new area of creative expression that wasn't possible before, even with the best lip syncing animation. Its a bold new frontier and even David Cage is working on a similar project to be released maybe in 2013.

Luis Guimaraes
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I wanna play these games as much as everybody else, but wouldn't call everything that came before as less mature in the creative realm. It's also strange to say that more realism means better creativity. Had them find a way to get the same impact without that technology I would call that creative. But a sad face is hardly something we didn't seen before.

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Agree with Luis on this.