VIDEO GAMES WILL BE THE NEW ‘SOCIAL INTERACTION’ IN THE POST-COVID ERA
Numerous reputable figures praise the ‘social’ potential shown by digital entertainment during lockdown Phil Spencer, the ‘boss’ of XBox, highlights the need to approach players “wherever they are and however they want”
“We’re living in Cyberpunk”, says the creator of the dystopian universe, Mike Pondsmith Ina Jang (CEO of Smilegate) reveals that her company
will be opening a major studio in Barcelona.
24 June 2020 – Many creators and developers in the video games
industry have emphasised the sector’s potential for ‘social
interaction’. On the second day of Gamelab Barcelona 2020,
prestigious figures from the sector came together to discuss their
vision of post-COVID society. One of the points they all raised was
the sector’s ability to bring people from around the world together; a
key characteristic inherent to the nature of video games. “Games
allow people to gather and that creates bonds”, said Ian Livingstone
(Tomb Raider, co-founder of Games Workshop). This vision is
shared by Jenova Chen (CEO of thatgamecompany) and Ilkka
Paananen (CEO of Supercell), who added that “they make the world
The artistic component present in the industry allows people “to
connect with their emotional side and experience all kinds of
feelings”, according to Tim Schafer (Maniac Mansion, The Secret of
Monkey Island). Equally, virtual reality is a tool with huge potential,
which could play a much more prominent role in the future. Visionary
actor, musician and filmmaker Jon Neverdie and Philip Rosedale
(CEO and co-founder of High Fidelity) predict the development of a
‘metaverse’ via virtual reality.
During the various talks, speakers also emphasised the importance
of key concepts such as equality and inclusion as the industry
progresses. Brenda Romero (Wizardry 8, Empire of Sin) and Kate
Edwards (Global Game Jam) talked at particular length on this point,
praising the work that is being done to improve the situation but
noting that it has to be a collective effort. “We must maintain this
same level of awareness throughout the whole process”, said
XBOX WILL BOOST ‘PLAYER POWER’
The keynote speech for this edition was given by special guest Phil
Spencer. The executive vice-president of Gaming at Microsoft spoke
about what an important time this is, as it coincides with the launch
of a new generation of consoles. Spencer prioritises players, placing
them “at the centre of every decision”. The company works to meet
customers’ needs and to make it possible to combine different
devices at different times, whether alone or in company, even
“playing on your mobile phone too in the future”.
The executive also highlighted the ongoing work on the company’s
own cloud. Microsoft’s Xcloud isn’t meant to replace the PC or
console, but to act as an element differentiating it from other
companies. He expressed the importance of dialogue with the
competition, saying “it’s essential that, as an industry, we respect
our history and recognise that we have come this far together”.
In July, an exclusive event will be held to promote all the latest Xbox
games and software, with Halo as one of the brand’s flagship titles.
MIKE PONDSMITH: “WE’RE LIVING IN CYBERPUNK”
Renowned video game and board game designer Mike Pondsmith
analysed the situation currently facing society through the lens of
the universe that he himself created. “We’re living in Cyberpunk”,
said the game’s creator; a virtual world in which the great powers
control everything, but where “if you’re fast and smart enough, you
can lead the revolution”.
Pondsmith perceives the Cyberpunk universe as a warning for
players, rather than as something to aspire to; “you don’t want this to
happen, but you should be aware of what is possible so that you can
prevent it”, he explained. Influenced by films such as Blade Runner
and Mad Max and soon to be supplemented by Cyberpunk Red, the
prequel to Cyberpunk 2077, the saga doesn’t doom players to
failure. “You can have an impact on this universe and change
things”, emphasises the game’s creator.
With a career stretching back over 30 years, the artist expressed his
conviction that all art forms are inherently political because “humans
themselves are inherently political”.
THE KOREAN COMPANY SMILEGATE, CREATOR OF THE
MOST PLAYED SHOOTER IN THE WORLD, IS SETTING UP A
DEVELOPMENT STUDIO IN BARCELONA
Ina Jang, the CEO of Korean company Smilegate, took advantage
of her time at Gamelab to announce that her company will be
opening a studio in Barcelona. It’s an important announcement by
one of the most influential women in the video game sector, who
has turned her attention to the Western market and decided to set
up shop in the Catalan capital, where the company is already hiring.
Smilegate is behind Crossfire, one of the biggest first-person
shooters in the world. Launched in 2007, the game has attracted a
total of 650 million players and annual revenues of 10 billion dollars
over the last 13 years.
The news reconfirms the strategic importance of Catalan video
games producers, which contribute 53% of total annual revenues
despite only representing 28% of registered development studios in
Spain, according to data from the 2019 White Paper on the
Catalan Video Game Industry. This ecosystem is supported by
various institutions, making it possible for international companies
such as Ubisoft, Gameloft, King, Scopely and Riot Games to have
offices in Barcelona and providing a more extensive support network
for independent studios.
In 2018, the Catalan video game industry made a total of 429 million
euros, an increase of 17% on the previous year.
Gamelab Barcelona 2020 LIVE is supported by the Generalitat of
Catalonia via the Institute of Cultural Enterprises (ICEC), the
Ministry for Digital Policy and Public Administration, the Agency for
Business Competitiveness (Acció), the Spanish Ministry of
Education, Culture and Sport, Hospitalet Municipal Council,
Barcelona City Council and Barcelona Provincial Council.
The event is sponsored by the Fundación i2Cat, the European
Union and GAME and works in cooperation with Devicat, PROA,
DEV, ENTI, Native Prime and GBA.
Official media outlets: VentureBeat, Gamesindustry.biz,
Gamereactor and CineyTele.com