Game developers should look beyond violence, says Quantic’s Cage

'Heavy Rain' creator says industry needs fewer guns, more imagination

The videogame industry might have taken in nearly $15 billion in the U.S. last year, but one of the industry’s more controversial developers thinks the industry needs to reinvent itself if it wants to ensure long-term success.

David Cage, founder of the Quantic Dream development studio and creator of 2010’s Heavy Rain and the upcoming Ellen Page starring game “Beyond: Two Souls,” accused the industry of having a Peter Pan complex during a seminar at this year’s D.I.C.E. Summit — and offered his own vision for the future.

Noting that the industry’s best-selling games were largely Nintendo titles and violent shooters, he chastised developers for reusing the same themes and worlds for nearly 40 years.

“Video games live in wonderland,” he said. “They’re not connected to our reality. They talk about things that are completely unrelated to all we know. We need to move from our traditional market — which is mainly kids, teens and young adults — to a wider market, where we can make anyone play. ”

Cage suggested several changes, including reworking the industry’s relationship with Hollywood.

Today, he noted, the relationship between filmmakers and game makers is largely based on licensing deals — which he noted don’t really benefit either side.

“The time has come for a new partnership,” he said. “We can invent a new form of entertainment. They mastered the form of linear storytelling. We mastered interactivity.”

Part of that change, he said, would involve bringing in new talent, as he has with Paige and his work with David Bowie on Quantic Dream’s first game, “Omikron: The Nomad Soul.”

Story, he said, is essential. While there’s nothing wrong with the adrenaline rush that many of today’s games provide, he dismissed those experiences as “toys.”

“Can we create games that have something to say?,” he posed. “Could we create games that talk about society? That talk about feelings and emotion? That talk about politics or homosexuality? Why not? We need to put games at the center of our lives. They shouldn’t be set in a separate dimension.”

More importantly, he noted, is for game developers to abandon the paradigms that have served them so well in the past — including violence, which has become a hot button issue again in the past few months.

“We need to decide that violence and platform games are not the only way,” he said. “We are in an industry that if the main character does not hold a gun, designers don’t know what to do.”