Must we always save the world or preserve the existence of humanity in our video game role-playing games? Must the stakes always be so high? I recently asked one of the principals of RPG super-studio BioWare about this.
Between discussing the impending launch of Dragon Age: Origins or teasing the features of Mass Effect 2, BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk has devoted energy toward convincing gamers that it will be exciting to grandly save humanity once again.
When Zeschuk and I spoke a couple of weeks ago at the Penny Arcade Expo, however, I asked if there was any reason BioWare couldn't or wouldn't make a role-playing game about something more pedestrian. Must the preservation of all life always be the motivation?
"Like you said, it's almost like there's a formula," he said. "Save the world: Check." Zeshuck and I both know that a lot of gamers want that feeling of being a hero. That's a big draw.
Half-joking, I said to him: Why not have an RPG just about having a good week?
"You've got to go to work," Zeschuk riffed. "You've got to finds your clothes." As he threw these ideas out, I realized they didn't sound that appealing. But Zeschuk liked the idea of making an RPG that's about less pressing matters than the preservation of all life.
"We have had conversations about having a game that would have much more intimate moment to moment experience, not so much like saving the world," he said. As a means of loose comparison, he brought up Milo & Kate, the virtual person project showed by Peter Molyneux at this past E3. "It's not quite like the Milo stuff, but taking the character technology and taking something like — mundane is the wrong word — but something like sitting around the table." His idea sounded more like indie games I've played or heard about that center on the simpler moments in life, like the dinner part in Facade.