‘In an industry full of violence, tits and misogyny we made something about beauty’: The Chinese Room on the Art of Video Games

As part of the London Games festival, indie developer The Chinese Room took part in a talk on the art of video games, giving an insightful glimpse into the behind the scenes development of their latest release, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Dan Pinchbeck, co-founder of the company said:

“The relationship between visual design and cinematography and how that influenced the role of audio and music was absolutely critical to the game. We ended up appropriating a lot of film language in the game whilst trying to fundamentally pursue the very unique things about storytelling in games which you can’t do in films.

“Historically games and story have always had big problems – we’re still at a place where those games which have very deep and resonant stories still generally opt for the model where the story begins when the game ends.”

While on stage, the developers walked the audience through the game, much like an E3 demo with both Pinchbeck and his partner and composer Jessica Curry commenting on the musical scores that accompany the game’s narrative.

“When we were making Rapture we said let’s make something which is genuine game storytelling, that doesn’t resort to cinema but uses the best of cinematic language in the way in which we deliver it to a tell a story we can only tell using video games.

“Games are amazing at creating worlds but usually terrible at creating story. We tried to get away from that in Rapture. If you believe in the world and the people, we believe it’s okay for more mundane dialogue because you care about the characters.”

Curry then took over to talk about the music saying:

“When Dan said he was making an open world game it was interactivity times a thousand, I had to completely re-think how I was going to score the emotional scenes of the players journey. I think that’s why a lot of game composing can be so bland, because you are trying to always accommodate the feeling of the player without intruding on them too much and the way I got round that was by sneaking unique music queues in.

“What you basically have is a story where you throw all the script pages up in the air and when you pick them up again it still makes sense and in that way it is very unique.”

As the talk came towards its conclusion both developers couldn’t resist briefly discussing the current political climate of the games industry.

“Part of the problem with the games industry is people who don’t give a shit about games control it. The more people that are independent and controlling their own destinies and making the games they care about the better the industry is as a result”, Pinchbeck concluded.

The London Games Festival concludes on the 10th April. For information about the other upcoming events click here.

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