The KGC Interview: Define the Future


These interview questions were sent to me by the organizers of the Korea Games Conference in 2005, to be answered in advance. At the opening reception as part of a presentation, and in the conference brochure, many if not all of these answers were reproduced for all to see. I figured, why leave all the fun only to those who were there? So here they are.

Define the Future: the KGC speaker interview

With the Korean Online Game’s spirit of challenge and innovation, which has already brought the global revolution to the game world, the Korea Games Conference would like to be a starting point to foresee and debate the ‘NEXT REVOLUTION’ of game industry.

We, KGC Organizing Office, look forward to welcoming a new paradigm of video-gaming through your insight and vision. As a future strategist in the game industry, what is your future like?

What do you expect a revolutionary change or a paradigm shift in the global game industry in five years time? Also, what would be a hero or a driving force for that?

I think that we are experiencing that shift in the game industry today. Everyone is hitting the wall of rising costs and technical barriers, and the responses we are seeing are many. Sony and Microsoft are emphasizing online andmicrotransactions. Nintendo is moving towards new forms of control, to try to break out of the hardcore game market. The Serious Games movement in North America is gathering a lot of steam, with more attention than ever being paid to ways in which games can teach or train. The independent game movement is also a major new trend, moving the industry (finally) onto the Internet for real, embracing digital distribution chains and unique gameplay. Europe has become a hotbed of games scholarship, developing games studies into a true academic discipline. And Korea, of course, continues to demonstrate the cutting edge of a true gaming society, where the legal issues and cultural issues of mainstream gaming are confronted on a daily basis.What do we have to prepare for the upcoming revolution in gaming field?

It is more critical than ever that our game developers be educated: educated regarding not only the making of games, but their implications. Everything from the development of legal precedents surrounding online worlds, to the cognitive and cultural impact of games on human society. Game design no longer occurs only in a vacuum, and it’s too big to be thought of as mere entertainment anymore. We have to take it seriously, and demand the same level of skill as we would from other prominent jobs.

Dear Speakers,We sincerely welcome you to the KGC2005 and would like to extend our deep appreciation to your support to our event. Many media and industry professionals in Korea look forward to this year’s KGC thanks to your participation. As we have been requested lots of questions from the press already, here we got a list of them as below. Please feel free to choose one or more questions in each category and let us share your bright ideas on them.

Sincerely Yours,
KGC Organizing Office

Simply, why do you make games? What does make you to keep doing your job? I have said before that I make games because of my personality, who I am. I am fortunate enough (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) to have a wide array of talents, and little patience for repetitive tasks and mundanity. Because of that, I enjoy a job which demands constant context-switching, moving from one discipline to another, confronting difficult problems in writing, art, music, math, sociology, psychology, and so on.

What do you think of ‘an ideal game’ is? And why?

There is no real “ideal game” for the world. There are ideal games for individuals, and those will be the ones that keep the player operating at the peak of their ability whilst teaching them new things, especially new things that they are perhaps not necessarily talented at or trained in. That’s the real value that games can bring to the table–they can teach in ways that schools cannot.

As far as your career is concerned, what is your philosophy on games that you want to keep?

I want to make a positive difference in the world–fun is one such positive difference. I want to create understanding between people.

What does a game mean to you? Is it an Art, a Technology, an Entertainment, a Fantasy, or something else?

It is all of those. It is an entertainment that can aspire to art. It is a fantasy created with technology, but it is one with real implications for our lives.

Would you tell us your know-how to keep getting an inspiration for every new project?

If I could explain it, I would. The trick to creativity, I think, is that it’s not about originality. It’s about old ideas bumping into other old ideas in new, unexpected ways. To encourage that, the best thing to do is to get exposed to ideas, as many and as different ones as you can. Falling into a rut with your mental exercise, your reading, your watching, your cultural experience, is the easiest way to end up uncreative.

What kind of technology would be possibly used for game’s further evolution?

The future is procedural. The days of handcrafting are coming to an end, because nobody can afford the handcrafting of everything to the bar that is being demanded by the new hardware.

How seriously do you think the virtual society in games influences on our real life?

It has a lot of influence and in many different ways. People learn things like organization, responsibility, and coordination from playing in guilds and doing castle sieges. They learn web design when they run their guild. They study statistics when they search for optimal equipment. These are all real impacts.

They also provide an entertainment, an escape, and that isn’t something to denigrate. Throughout history, stories and fantasy and entertainment have served as both a refuge for us, and as a powerful tool for learning, for continuity, for human development.

Do you believe that games can change the world?

Sure! In many ways, they already have.

As a game developer, what do you think of the range of your social responsibility?

I think that we need to take our art and our craft seriously. What we do has a real impact on people. We need to be aware of what those impacts are, and use this powerful medium for good.

I also think that we should avoid doing things with our medium that then result in damage to the entire industry. It’s easy to create a reprehensible game and hide behind notions of freedom of speech, and thus jeopardize the freedom of the entire industry.

How do you communicate with gamers and get a feedback from them?

I try to stay in touch via online forums and blogs as much as I can. Losing sight of what the audience is playing and what they enjoy means that you lose sight of what games are being played today. You have to be able to put yourself in other people’s shows.

What would be the role of U.S and Japan in future game industry?

Right now, the US seems to be a hardcore gamer’s haven, with fewer wacky ideas and original concepts being tried out. We see Japan being highly innovative, but many of the more adventurous ideas don’t necessarily find market acceptance worldwide.

Over time, everyone needs to move towards a healthy ecology of gamers that includes hardcore players of all styles. I don’t think we’ll ever see regional styles going away, but as the gaming audience develops, it’ll come to embrace a wider array of types of games.

Continuous supply of the best brains to the game industry is a critical issue. Do you have any program or ideas on that?

Already, the profession of game developer seems to be one of the most desired jobs among youth. I am not sure we need to do anything to make it more appealing, other than make sure that the best minds don’t burn out from a lack of creativity or challenge in their roles once they are working in the industry.