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BioForge lead: grim games need a 'campiness pill' to succeed

"I don't think that anyone was or even now is ready" for a truly grim game, says BioForge lead Ken Demarest, who believes a touch of camp was what helped BioForge's subject matter seem palatable.
"The only way to swallow that kind of [dark game] is with the campiness pill... Otherwise, you're going to end up with a Schindler's List."
- BioForge director and producer Ken Demarest, in conversation with Giant Bomb. BioForge, the 1995 adventure game from Origin Systems, has seen a revival of interest thanks to online fandom. Giant Bomb caught up with the game's producer, director and lead programmer Ken Demarest to discuss the game's deep and frequently grim plot -- and how it uses humor to sustain that dark quality. "The story is extremely grim," says Demarest. "Though I do believe video games are art, I don't think that anyone was or even now is ready for a game to try and take on that kind of topic." While acknowledging some smaller developers have taken to platforms like Kongregate to create small set pieces of this nature, Demarest maintains that doing so it still "very, very tricky territory." "I want that kind of art to exist, but games are for entertainment, and so it's kind of a hard call to figure out exactly how to pull it off," he says. He continues:

"But I love the concept of games as art, I do believe that they're art, but I also believe the tools that we have to make that art are not as wide-ranging as physical art has these days. On the other hand, we have almost all the tools that the movie guys have, so if you consider a movie to [be] art, computer games could conceivably go there. They haven't for the most part, and nothing has ever risen to the level of, for example, Schindler's List, or anything like that. In the games industry, we have drama but the industry has not managed to touch people's hearts at the same level. "Now, having said that, we touch people in ways that movies never can. You're there and it's interactive."
The entire conversation is a worthwhile look back at BioForge and mid-1990s development. You should swing by Giant Bomb and have a look.

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