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GDC Europe: Samyn On Why Indies Will Help 'Failed' European Biz

During a heated panel discussion at the Indie Games Summit at Game Developers Conference, participants such as Tale of Tales' Michael Samyn and Frictional's Thomas Grip covered a wide range of topics on how to push games "beyond fun."
"Video games are ready to become a real medium," suggested Tale of Tales Michael Samyn (The Path), "but the only thing that is a little bit awkward is that we always seem to be doing the same thing over and over." Belgian developer Samyn (pictured, left) was talking as the compere during an intentionally provocative panel discussion concluding the Indie Games Summit at GDC Europe in Cologne, during which the participants covered a wide range of topics on how to push games "beyond fun." Samyn suggested that while video games are capable of presenting all kinds of emotions and feelings to players, many developers are not yet fully exploring the possibilities properly. He did, however, note that he felt indie developers in Europe were moving towards this more quickly than other regions, putting it down to his claim that Europe has "failed as a commercial [games] industry." Thomas Grip of Frictional Games (Amnesia: The Dark Descent), also part of the panel, followed Samyn, discussing the relationship between games being fun, and being seen as simply toys. When video games first came about, they were essentially in toy form, utilizing game cartridges and the like, argued Grip. Hence, publishers were forced to market games in the same way as toys. However, even though games are now far more expressive and cheaper, the toy mindset is still there for publishers, he said. He used bulletpoints on the back of a video game box as an example -- publishers use bulletpoints to show the value of a game, with these points usually showing quantities and the like, rather than what the game is actually about. You wouldn't see these kinds of bulletpoints on the back of the latest 'Die Hard' film, such as "10 more weapons than the last film", he mused, suggesting that there should be a way to move beyond that and describe the intent of the game. However, when Thatgamecompany's Kellee Santiago asked Grip during the Q&A session what single first step he would take to change the relationship between the press, developers and publishers, he agreed that it was difficult to find a singular starting point - other than changing the entire paradigm.

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