Naughty Dog’s creative director and writer Neil Druckmann is of the opinion that triple-A developers can learn a thing or two from indies, especially in the way in which characters are portrayed in games.
Speaking with GI International, Druckmann said he’s been particularly impressed with some of the storytelling techniques independents have been using, specifically Gone Home and Papers, Please – both of which he was “blown away” by.
“With big AAA titles, it’s sometimes hard to make these gigantic shifts as far as what a game is or what kind of story it could tell,” Druckmann said. “As more and more examples come to light, I think more people are pursuing better narratives, and I hope criticism of games and game narratives is becoming more sophisticated. I think before you would have had a hard time talking about tropes and how women are represented in games, or how characters of color are represented in games.
“But now I’m kind of excited by the discussion and the kind of criticism games are getting. I think that change is going to happen much more rapidly going forward, and people who don’t engage in that discussion, who don’t try to appeal to audiences that are coming on, are going to be left behind.
“I feel like AAA games… we’re on this cusp of at the very least seeing strong, non-sexualized female protagonists starring in games. You’re going to see a lot more of those, and a lot more that are commercially successful.”
Druckmann feels that in many cases, triple-A developers feel they need to play it safe due to there being “so many parts of a giant corporation” working on releasing a game; therefore, companies become risk adverse.
“But once you have enough evidence to say ‘Hey look, this is actually not a risk, this can succeed commercially,’ then creativity can flourish and new avenues can be pushed,” he said.
The Last of Us is the latest title to be released from Naughty Dog and it’s currently developing a PlayStation 4 project which has yet to be announced.
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