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Feature: IP Reboots A Matter Of Cultural Knowledge

Former EA DICE IP development team member Marcus Andrews tells Gamasutra that one key element of revitalizing old IP is to "understand what the culture was like w
Franchise reboots have become a popular trend in recent years, in both the video game and film industries. Whether it's Tomb Raider or Prince of Persia in the games sector, or Batman and Terminator in movies, creators are digging for new ways to revitalize older properties to reignite commercial viability. Former EA DICE employee Marcus Andrews, who developed 31 intellectual properties in his seven months at the Battlefield and Mirror's Edge developer, said in a new Gamasutra feature that when planning a reboot, it's important to review the cultural bullet points at the time of the IP's creation, and contrast that against the current culture. "When thinking of an old IP and how you can bring it to present day you have to understand what the culture was like when the IP was created and when it got strong," Andrews said. "Let's say it's been 20 years since that IP made any noise. What has happened in those 20 years?" He continued, "You can begin by looking how your neighborhood looked when people first got excited by the IP and compare it with today. That should illustrate that things were different and that people had different mindsets and liked different things. A successful vitalization needs to translate what people liked back then to the present time; it must involve subjects we care about today, politics, economy and culture." Andrews used one relatively recent successful IP reboot that took place in film: Batman. The iconic comic book character has taken on many shapes and personalities in TVs and movies over the past decades. Christopher Nolan's 2005 Christian Bale-starring reboot, Batman Begins appears to have taken into particular consideration current events and worldviews. "What is really striking with Batman Begins in comparison to the earlier movies is how Batman now has to be believable to a degree." He added, "There has to be a hint of an explanation behind his person and powers, he has motives and depth. It could be argued that the trends have shifted and that people demand something that allows them to believe in the fiction and enjoy it." "In the original Batman movie from 1989 there is very little reference to the source of Batman's abilities," Andrews said. "You understand as much as Batman is just a man with advanced gadgetry, and that was probably enough of an explanation in 1989." "When looking at an IP over time, it's vital to learn to identify our own time and the audience we try so hard to impress today. Who are we? How are the 2010ers? Whoever can answer that has a great chance to make a great IP," he concluded.

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