Storytron’s Chris Crawford: “Screw graphics”

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It seems as if it was a bit rowdy-going at the opening of this year’s Austin Game Developers Conference. The notorious author and game developer Chris Crawford – currently famous for his work with his program Storytron – said that today’s games have shifted towards the wrong way. The open spaces, the brutal graphics and the detailed plots we think of as natural in current-gen titles are evidently ruining what games are all about – people and interaction.

Crawford said that interactivity should always be the top priority. To make it very clear how wrong today’s focus is put, he said “Screw graphics,” and added that “without interactivity, you ain’t got nothin’.”

Basically, Crawford thinks that graphics, plot and space solely exist to support the interactivity. If developers focus more on the eye-candy than the actual interactivity, the previous will just get in the latter’s way. First you should design how the player will interact (a good way of doing that is to define what goals there are and then define all the verbs required to achieve those goals) and then start the engineering.

Most gamers will agree that a lot of games of the 21st century lack in story and gameplay, and that the focus has been too heavily shifted towards stunning graphics and cool nonsense features. But at the same time (this will upset retro gamers), don’t we live in a super-awesome time for gaming? They’re beautiful, have multi-million dollar production budgets and many designers have been around since the dawn of gaming, and I dare to say most of them are pretty damn interactive.

Now, everything can be improved, and according to Mr. Crawford, his own program Storytron can be the way of the future. What do you think, should game designers listen to this or are we currently riding the right wave?

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