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Sopranos' Creator Doubtful of Game Meaning

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the never-played-ico dept.

Television 48

Stephen Totilo, over at MTV Games, has up an article talking with David Chase, the creator of hit HBO show The Sopranos. Mr. Chase believes firmly in the creative and dramatic potential of television, but isn't so sure that videogames can mean all that much. Despite the new 'Sopranos' game, you'll never see the TV show bleed into gaming, or vice versa. In his mind, games have very specific goals. From the article: "'Games have a function,' he said. 'It's a physical function. The character has to go from here to there, has to shoot that, has to drive this, has to knock that down, has to jump up here. ... That's how a game works. So cooking dinner, going to Lamaze class, there's no way to figure that into a game at this point. Maybe somebody else can do it and maybe somebody will, but that wasn't really what this game was about. It was supposed to be a story about a kid who wants to be a gangster -- a punk who wants to be a gangster -- and so that's what we did.'"

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48 comments

what??? (1)

bazmail (764941) | more than 7 years ago | (#16307535)

this sucks. completely.

Re:what??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16311123)

love your sig btw! lol

Oh no? (2, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16307729)

So cooking dinner, going to Lamaze class, there's no way to figure that into a game at this point.
Someone get this guy into "The Sims," or at least "Incredible Crisis." Hell, get him a Tamagotchi from the bargain bin.

Re:Oh no? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16307851)

So when will someone make Sims With Guns: The 2nd Amendment or some other life similation with violence as an option?

-Rick

Re:Oh no? (3, Insightful)

ArmyOfFun (652320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308539)

In a show like the Soprano's cooking or Lamaze would be an action characters perform for either some hidden meaning or to give the characters something to do while the story is advanced via other means (like dialogue). In a game, you're either totally involved in a cooking or Lamaze mini-game, or its carried out in a non-interactive way. So, for the interactive cooking segment, the narative (if any) has to come to a stop while you focus on the task at hand. Another character could talk to you while you cook, but most people will only be able to focus on cooking or listening, or do both poorly. Not to mention the outrage your typical gamer would have at having to cook or go to Lamaze with his pregnant mistress in a GTA or Soprano's game. Whereas most viewers probably aren't bothered when Carmela is making something to eat for Tony.

Re:Oh no? (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319505)

"Not to mention the outrage your typical gamer would have at having to cook or go to Lamaze with his pregnant mistress in a GTA or Soprano's game. "

And the typical viewer would be pissed off if the typical Sopranos episode was 50 minutes of cooking or Lamaze. That's what cut-scenes are for anyway. Skippable cut scenes.

Three words: (1)

ZakuSage (874456) | more than 7 years ago | (#16310501)

Metal Gear Solid. Kicks the shit out of anything I've ever seen on the Sopranos.

Don't dispair (1)

kernel_pat (964314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16307751)

"So cooking dinner, going to Lamaze class, there's no way to figure that into a game at this point." - I've figured it out Xtreme cooking (like Xtreme ironing) and Vitrual Lamaze where you have to balance the mothers breathing and all the other fun that comes with virtual lamaze, buy it now at walmart, only $5.99

Re:Don't dispair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16307817)

If you want to learn how to cook, get Cooking Mama [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Don't dispair (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 7 years ago | (#16318767)

If you want to learn how to cook, get Cooking Mama.

Not sure if you're serious, but in case anyone got the wrong impression: Cooking Mama doesn't teach you how to cook. It's a game along the lines of Wario Ware with cooking-themed microgames.

You don't actually learn how to cook.

But yeah, Cooking Mama is a game where you cook stuff, so David Chase is kind of wrong.

wow--what a lack of clue (1)

JackBuckley (696547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16307767)

Now there's a guy who clearly knows nothing about gaming. Can't work cooking dinner or Lamaze into a game? Is he serious? Has he ever heard of...Japan? Has he played a game since 1985?

Re:wow--what a lack of clue (4, Funny)

Zardus (464755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308073)

What is this ... ja..pan?

Is it a cooking utensil?

Re:wow--what a lack of clue (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308321)

You go to a Japanese family home and, when they offer you a bowl of rice, stick your chopsticks straight up into the rice. Then run like hell if someone pulls out a sword and screams, "Stupid American!"

Re:wow--what a lack of clue (1)

chrnb (243739) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308715)

Somebody buy him Cooking mama for the DS or the Wii.
Btw. check some Wii screens from the game here: http://www.gamesarefun.com/news.php?newsid=6950/ [gamesarefun.com]

Crappy games aren't as good as good TV (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308791)

Wow, news flash. Crappy formulaic games aren't as meaningful as ground breaking dramatic television. How much do you want to bet that movie producers said the same thing about TV when it first came out? Video games are about where TV was in the late 50's. At least he's not saying it'll never happen, he's just admitting that he's not talented and/or experienced enough in the medium of video games to pull it off.

Each new media changes society through it's innate characteristics. Books, by putting you in your head, are like a daydream. Movies, with 24 frames per second flashed on screen, are like a regular dream. TV, with it's rapidly scanning raster beam is hypnotic. Video games by their nature are interactive. All of them, however, follow the same rules of drama: you must raise dramatic tension by asking interesting questions and lower it by answering them. But what questions are interesting to an audience is at least somewhat inherent in the media itself. Questions that raise dramatic tension in book form may not do the same thing in TV or movie form, and this holds true for video games as well.

Seeing characters cooking dinner or going to lamaz class may raise dramatic tension while watching the hypnotic medium of television. That does not mean they would (necessarily) do so in the interactive medium of video games.

Re:Crappy games aren't as good as good TV (1)

vega80 (852274) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309697)

In other words, "the medium is the message."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_McLuhan [wikipedia.org]

Re:Crappy games aren't as good as good TV (2, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309977)

I guess I should have mentioned my sources, yes. The name of the book is The Medium is the Massage , by the way. It was a printer's error, but Marshall McLuhan thought it illustrated his point better than the original title.

Re:Crappy games aren't as good as good TV (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#16310329)

Oh, and the other source is Poetics [wikipedia.org] , by Aristotle, in regards to the essential elements of dramatic tension. Interestingly, these theories apply to media such as painting, sculpture, and music as much as they do to theater, literature, and poetry.

Re:wow--what a lack of clue (1)

jkauzlar (596349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16310123)

I think he's talking about the dramatic portrayal of cooking & eating (which makes up 65% of the Sopranos), and I'm not sure why he said Lamaze(?). It would make a boring game if the characters were sitting and eating spaghetti with other gangsters most of the time, which means the game needs to focus on the action & violence, which is not, really, per se, what the Sopranos is all about. It's far more of a character drama than say, CSI or 24.

Re:wow--what a lack of clue (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16311781)

There are games that have dramatic dinner-table scenes in them, actually, check out any game in the Grandia series, where over half of the interesting character interaction takes place during dinner table conversations. Granted, these are only mildly interactive, so some may rightly point out that they're simply an extension of cinema/television stuck into a game. However, videogames ARE exactly that, a melting pot of media, just as cinema and television combine theatre with music as well as some new elements (such as the ability to instantaniously change the time & space of actions). Games are simply another melting pot media, only this time cinema is one of the included forms. Games are no different than cinema in the regard that they take previously explored media, put them together, and in doing so also bring some new elements to the table as well, "interactivity" being one of these.

I really like what a poster wrote a few posts up, when he compared the current state of games to the infancy of television (during its first 30 or so years), if you think about it, until Luciel Ball came around, TV was pretty piss poor, it took a long time for TV to get off the ground. Now, we have shows like LOST and Law & Order that can hold its own compared to its cinematic counterparts. Similarly, Cinema was little more than recorded theatre - sound for quite some time. It takes time for a new media to recognize it's unique elements and to properly figure out how to exploit them. I think we're doing that now with games, but it's still in its infancy.

I think what the Sopranos creator is refering to, specifically, is HIS game, the Sopranos game. And OF COURSE its going to be a lesser. A large majority of all arts/entertainment that takes a piece from one media and attempts to translate it to another FAILS. Cinema only started getting it right with literature in the past 30 or so years, and still they fail much of the time. I can probably count, on one hand, the number of TV shows made from movies that were equal to or better than their counterparts (Stargate SG1 is the only one that comes to mind, actually). No game movie EVER has come close to being as good as its respective game.

Re:wow--what a lack of clue (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314081)

(Stargate SG1 is the only one that comes to mind, actually)
And that was only achieved because Wright and Glassner made a lot of changes to the movie storyline.

Re:wow--what a lack of clue (1)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319207)

Can't work cooking dinner or Lamaze into a game? Is he serious? Has he ever heard of...Japan? Has he played a game since 1985?

Yeah, you could bake bread in Ultima VII! That's an epic role-playing game. Released in 1992. And that's an American game! Bet the Japanese figured how to integrate cooking even earlier...

go figure (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16307769)

You mean there's a difference between passive and active entertainment? Who ever would've guessed?

Oh wow (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16307865)

Stephen Totilo, over at MTV Games, has up an article talking with David Chase, the creator of hit HBO show The Sopranos. Mr. Chase believes firmly in the creative and dramatic potential of television, but isn't so sure that videogames can mean all that much.

Oh wow, old guy X doesn't believe new technology Y is as good as the good old days!
That's so shocking! What a great coincidence that we age and die, so new generations with more open thinking replace us.

Honestly: the guy may be talented, it doesn't mean he's adaptive. So deal with it.

"...at this point." (2, Insightful)

Gregory Cox (997625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308905)

" there's no way to figure that into a game at this point. Maybe somebody else can do it and maybe somebody will, but that wasn't really what this game was about.

He deliberately left open the possibility that maybe in the future someone will make a game with the kind of depth and narrative he's talking about. That seems pretty open-minded to me. (OK, so he ignored the possibility that there might be a game like that already that he just didn't know about, but that's a minor oversight.)

I think he did a good job of being diplomatic about the possibilities of computer games, while trying to explain why, in this particular case, he doesn't want this game to end with Tony Soprano walking out as the final boss and you having to dropkick him, becase it will make his drama look ridiculous. That's his real point.

Re:Oh wow (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16310421)

He gets 40 rods to the hogshead, and that's the way he likes it!

Actually... (2, Insightful)

RumGunner (457733) | more than 7 years ago | (#16307969)

I guess I'm in the minority here, but I completely agree with that. I prefer games that have specific goals and an end. I like the feeling of accomplishment I get from beating the final boss, jumping over the flagpole, etc.

Waiting around a game for something to happen, aimlessly collecting money, fighting endless boring monsters to gain experience, none of these things really feels like "fun" to me.

Re:Actually... (1)

Aglassis (10161) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308111)

Just like in TV where there are very few 24s or Battlestar Galacticas, there are very few Baldurs Gate 2s or FFVIIs in the gaming genre. If I were like this asshole and judged the entire genre by a quick glimpse without knowing anything about it beforehand, I could easily understand how he could come to that conclusion. But I could come to the same conclusion watching TV and movies as well. Unless you search really hard, all you are going to find is shit, which is apparently what he found.

Re:Actually... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309159)

Just like in TV where there are very few 24s or Battlestar Galacticas, there are very few Shenmues or Panzer Dragoon Sagas in the gaming genre.

There, I fixed it for you!

Re:Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16310627)

Shen Mue sucked. In that case, there's tons of Shen Mues.

Re:Actually... (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 7 years ago | (#16311403)

I thought that was the point. Although I haven't seen an episode of 24 or played Baldur's Gate 2, I know that FFVII was 100% pure crap and that while BSG had a run of pretty good episodes in late season 1 and early season 2 it's gone back to the overly self-important space soap-opera it was in the miniseries as of late.

Cooking can't be a game? (1)

spitefowl (786321) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308029)

Someone get this guy a DS and Cooking Mama [wikipedia.org]

Re:Cooking can't be a game? (1)

spitefowl (786321) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308065)

Oops, sorry, bad link! Cooking Mama [wikipedia.org]

Not using his imagination (2, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308113)

I don't think Totilo has really used his imagination with this one. Think about a movie about, say, an underdog football team, or a champion chess player playing a computer, or a boxer, uh... boxing.

The human drama, which is what the story is, can play itself out in the context of a game, just as it can play out in the game-like atmosphere of a business or a relationship.

In a nutshell, the story theory is that the protagonist faces a challenge that shatters his world -- he can't go back to his world they way he used to live it. Think Luke after his parents were killed by stormtroopers. He can either hook up with some crazy old man or wander around Tatooine, but he just won't be helping Uncle Owen farm moisture tomorrow.

Same thing when the star quarterback steps out onto the field for the championship game or the chess player sits down in front the the computer. They are either going to become a champion, or blow the biggest chance of their life. Either way, they can't go back to the anonymity they used to live everyday. What a better set up for the human drama?

Us here on slashdot have seen this played out a million times in almost every game. The crisis might be a little hoakey or even flat out weird -- resucing Dr. Light from Dr. Wiley, or eating all of the pellets without getting caught by a ghost. It is a challenge, and there is no rest for the protagonist. They must make their way into a brave new world.

Re:Not using his imagination (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309869)

"Think Luke after his parents were killed by stormtroopers."

Try aunt & uncle - though they were parent figures.

Sorry to nitpick! :D

Re:Not using his imagination (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16311853)

You are right! How did I miss that? I have to turn in my geek credentials now.

"TV show bleed into gaming, or vice versa." HUH? (1)

Some_Llama (763766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308133)

Star Trek the new generation made a great game with a lot of TV series references. So did it's sequels.

Simpson's hit and run and "crazy taxi" take were both fun consolers.

Band of brothers was a very successful Made for TV movie port to game.

That's off the top of my head. What is this guy talking about?

Doesn't every soprano's episode have a plot and something the characters need to do for the episode to progress?

Sounds like another person downplaying the importance of the gaming market because they just don't know what they are talking about.

It probably shouldn't make me mad that what he says feels like a personal attack on one my of favorite past times.. but it does.

Game == violence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16308163)

It seems as though most games are action or violence oriented. There's also a nonviolent video 'game', called the internet, whereupon a person may learn lamaze, cooking, or whatever via web sites. Perhaps the very definition of video game is action or violence, and the other computer 'applications' are the nonviolent 'games'?

yah ok (1)

Some_Llama (763766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308247)

GTA 3, same premise, small thug works his way up through the mafia, failed miserably.

He's totally right.

Do Lamaze classes and cooking have a place in TV? (2, Insightful)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308313)

Honestly? no.

If they show up in a piece of fiction, I would realy hope that the focus was on the characters AS they are involved in these activities, not on the activity itself.

For a nice quick example, take GTA:SA. You have your characters, and you have the character advancment they go through, most of it is take up by cut sceans between missions, and the random commentary durring missions. I would not be that hard of a streach to have CJ walk into his brothers house and get a mission from him when he is making dinner.

Meh, I personaly think that a video game CAN be just as great a piece of narative as a TV show can be.

Re:Do Lamaze classes and cooking have a place in a (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309311)

"Meh, I personaly think that a video game CAN be just as great a piece of narative as a TV show can be."

I'm surprised they didn't look at Liberty City Stories and derive some inspiration.

Oh well. Sorry, I'm not trying to dry-hump your 'Insightful' post. I'm just surprised. If it weren't for the cut-scenes in this game, I doubt I'd have the interest to keep playing it.

Another clueless relic (0, Troll)

QuantaStarFire (902219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308877)

He may be a smart man, but he's a damned fool.

I mean, he's right; games can't provide the same narrative as TV or films, but then again, films and TV are also distinct in narrative, so it hardly matters because they're supposed to be different.

I mean, why'd he use cooking and lamaze class as examples? Are they somehow more significant than other mundane events, like brushing your teeth, or taking a shit? There we go! In order to be accepted by clueless, geriatric jackasses, Half-Life has to have a sequence where Gordon Freeman has to stop running from the Combine chasing him, find a secluded spot in the wilderness, and just squat, and he has to do it before the patrolling Strider nearby notices him and rains death upon him. To make it even more intense, he has to run around the woods looking for leaves to wipe his ass with!

In all seriousness though, it sounds like he has a narrow-minded perspective as to how games are. I mean, the fact that he hasn't even touched them since the NES days because he sucks at them speaks volumes.

Perhaps sometime in the near future, someone will make a game so good and rich in narrative that EVERYBODY will just stop watching television and movies altogether, exchanging their satellite receivers and DVD players to get a Wii or an Xbox 360. Meanwhile, this guy will be looking desperately for a job, or maybe he'll just say "Fuck it." and retire. Who knows?

How would he know? (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308993)

Mr. Chase believes firmly in the creative and dramatic potential of television, but isn't so sure that videogames can mean all that much.

Pot meet kettle. Everybody knows that Television is a low-class form of entertainment for the masses, and doesn't have the same cultural significance as books or stage plays.
Pretty much what he says was also said of television 60 years ago.

Short Version (1)

QuantaStarFire (902219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309129)

void History()
{
History();

return;
}

so he doesn't know games.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16309487)

....big deal, what puzzles me is why anyone is talking to him about games. HBO put the game idea out there. He doesn't seem to know squat about games. I bet I can find other people who don't know much about games and interview them.
 
No narrative, gimme a break, although it sucked Enter The Matrix tied in with the movies and gave people a narrative that expanded the movies (or made them suck at a larger scale depending if your a fan or not). Cripes, even the mundane stuff that he doesn't think would make interesting gaming is all over the place in games - Sims, SimCity, Sim blah blah blah, any city building game, a ton of little games i don't care about. I'm not so much into those games myself, but they exist. hell, look at Second Life, although you could argue that isn't really a "game" it has wonderfully exciting crap like visiting a museum and sitting in halls listening to people give speeches on topics like CC. This man must never have seen Final Fantasy, where I spent time signing autographs for kids for the mundane side and epic stories for the narrative side.
 
Article could be shortened by just saying here is the Sopranos main writer, he doesn't know anything about games, he writes TV and nothing else, the end.

Judging a book by its cover... (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 7 years ago | (#16310825)

From the article: "Games are the new frontier, the way to enlighten an audience and immerse them. How can a guy like Chase be so disinterested in that?
Well, he's not a gamer, he admits."

So someone who doesn't know much about games can judge them? Fine. I've never seen the Sopranos but I can tell you I think it is boring, lame and cliched. Oh Italian-Americans, they must be in the mafia, right? How original. And I bet there is lots of killing people when they make each other mad. Wow, how ground breaking. Television is a vast wasteland which simply recycles plots and cliches from other television shows and movies.

As I said, I've never seen the Sopranos but I've seen the dvds sitting on the shelves at the store and Goodfellas was on cable the other night. Television shows and movies like the Sopranos have a function. It's a sedentary function. You watch a mobster go from here to there, shoot that, drive this, knock that down, jump up here. That's how the Sopranos works. So cooking dinner, going to Lamaze class, they can figure in. Maybe somebody else can do it and maybe somebody will, but that wasn't really what a game was about.

The act of watching a movie or a TV show or reading a book, God forbid, you're seeing someone else's story and you can go through their story and learn from it or feel with it or laugh at it without having to go through any of the pain or the adventures. The game is different: There is accomplishment, really, any emotional sense of accomplishment. You do feel the pain of failure and the feeling of adventure. Where in the Sopranos is the sense of accomplishment that you get at the end of a game? Where is the challenge in playing? Where is the skill?

See how easy it is to criticize something you don't like and don't know anything about?

Cooking and raising children... (1)

An Ominous Cow Erred (28892) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313437)

Have been done in Japan looooooong before the U.S. release of "Cooking Mama".

In Japan just about ANY aspect of life has been explored in a game. From graduating high school to bathroom functions to driving a train.

It really makes me wonder why there's so little creativity in the U.S. gaming market. The Sims touches broadly on lots of things, but it doesn't give you an in-depth simulation of anything.

I wish I could somehow zap the world's population with instant Japanese language skills, so everyone would be able to easily see what they were missing. ^^;
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