Grantland’s Tom Bissell interviews BioShock writer and creative director, Ken Levine:
Bissell: When it comes to atmosphere, your games are extraordinary. It seems to me that a lot of narrative stuff in games is put to better use as atmosphere than as exposition. Do you agree that atmosphere in games is really its own kind of story? I mean, if the atmosphere’s good, who gives a shit what the story is? The player’s already there.
Levine: When I was working on Thief with Doug Church, way, way back in the day, we always said that vibe was more important than story. I think that’s the same thing as what you’re saying. Put the player in an interesting world and make him feel like there’s interesting things around the corner. That’s way more important than specific details about what’s going on.
This section jumped out at me because it reminded me of issue 1 of Kieron Gillen’s ongoing run on Young Avengers. The title of the arc is “Style > Substance”
The assertion that what you say might be less important than how you say it might seem a little heretical, but Gillen’s writing and interviews about what he’s trying to do with Young Avengers, which he has often described as a pop song, helped me understand what he’s getting at here: that “body language” matters. That posture and presentation and attitude are information.
I think it also ties into Maya Angelou’s advice that “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Mood/atmosphere/vibe/attitude are information. I need to keep this in mind for creative projects.
I’m wondering if there are any good pieces that focus specifically on pre-20th Century “fandoms”, like the devotion to 19th century theater actors, or Byzantine chariot racing gangs. I feel like there is a whole rich pre-history of fan-like practices that could give us a lot of insight into the way in which contemporary fandoms are or are not organized, as well as the things that lead to them coming about. I mean, some of these were really *intense*—people killed over that shit. Clearly the phenomenon of peoples strong investment in popular culture is not new. However, it seems mostly untapped by contemporary Fan Studies, so someone should get on that.
Of course, I could easily be looking under the wrong rocks here. Maybe there *is* a big literature and I’m just bungling everything.
File this under “things I didn’t know I wanted, but now I really, really want.”
Possible places to look into:
- The cult of personality around sumo wrestlers in Japan
- Griots - nomadic West African oral historian/musician/royal advisor/storyteller. I imagine certain griots developed a following during their wanderings.
- Were there fandoms around mercenary companies?
Anyone have other examples of pre-20th century fandoms?
As a founder, your job isn’t to make a great product. It’s to build a great team that makes great products. You are who you hire…To maintain your psychological health, you’ll need to learn how to shift the fufillment you get from making to the fufillment of enabling a team to make. You’ll be making vicariously, not making directly. You’ll have to come to terms and internalize it or else your lack of emotional fufillment will trickle down to your team.
Great piece on the shift from creator to founder.