Game Eaters

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Doing the "right" thing in the games industry, Part 2. just posted an interview with Clint Hocking, lead-designer, head-writer of Splinter Cell 3. I spoke to him at GDC and he was really friendly. We didn't talk much, so I didn't know some of his more complex opinions until this article.

I didn't conduct the interview myself, but as a writer at Gamecritics some of the questions were mine. One of my questions was about--surprise surprise--what the politics of Splinter Cell 3 were. I was struck by the game's contemporary political setting, where enemy soldiers curse you as an American imperialist before you either knock them out or, more satisfyingly, stick a knife in their back.

Clint's answer was much what I expected--that he wasn't trying to make a political statement so much as populate his world with people whose motivations and beliefs seemed real.

I can respect this. I also respect (and actually agree with) Clint's assertions that it isn't helpful for people to whine about "evil corporations" squelching creativity in the name of profit. He's right that there are plenty of hard working creative people expressing their personal visions in this industry right now, some with more success, some with less. That's just the reality of any artistic medium involving big money and multiple investors. Art has always been commercial, and anyone who doesn't see the art in the current commercial landscape of games doesn't know what art is.

That said... there's a part of me that is disappointed with Clint's answer about politics in Splinter Cell 3. Maybe it is because I think compelling artistic expression exists in games that SC3 feels lightweight to me. It's not that I necessarily want the game to be more leftist and more anti-American (although that's certainly how I would have made it.) I guess I just want more depth to its ethical and political subtext and I want that woven into the interaction in a more meaningful way, regardless of whether it leans left or right.

For Clint, it seems like the real world politics and the ethical dimensions of Sam Fisher was just the spice of Splinter Cell 3.

If I had my way, they would be the whole meal.


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