Andy Serkis, everybody’s favorite digitally enhanced actor, talks about the future of storytelling:
We put so much into the writing of film scripts and plays, but not into games. And games are where the audience is going to be. In the next generation of kids, you’re going to see a lot of storytelling in games. And I think it’s important to invest in that. I absolutely think that gaming is a massive storytelling arena in the making and now the technology has arrived to do that. It’s a fascinating time.
As it happens, I’ve been thinking along the same lines. I will soon shop around a proposal for a Wii game in the mold of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, called Freelance Writer. Players will use small plastic PCs (or Macs) to take turns manipulating an avatar that sits at a computer and stares at the screen. Through a series of steps of escalating intensity, players guide their avatars through checking e-mails, making phone calls to sources, checking e-mails, doing “research” by Web-surfing, checking e-mails, making another pot of coffee, checking e-mails, going to the bathroom and checking e-mails.
As the game’s popularity expands, I’ll follow the example of Guitar Hero and introduce special edition versions of Freelance Writer with new playing controls.
Freelance Writer: John Steinbeck will have an avatar that writes with a pencil, does some gardening, gets drunk and wins a Nobel Prize.
Freelance Writer: Harlan Ellison will use a manual typewriter into which the avatar must insert a paper-carbon paper-onionskin sandwich through the platen, then leave the house to file lawsuits and verbally abuse fans. (The Gold Edition will come with a store window in which the avatar sits and writes.)
Freelance Writer: Celebrity Whosis will, I suspect, be the most popular because its avatar will simply hire a ghostwriter and go clubbing.
I’m still deciding what to do with the riches that will come rolling in once I get this game on the market.