Score one for video games.
At the DICE gaming summit in Las Vegas, "Pirates Of The Caribbean" Wednesday night, director Gore Verbinski told a room full of video game developers and executives that it's their medium -- not his -- that has the brighter future.
Clad in a jeans, a long sleeve black T-shirt and dog tags, Verbinski was delivering the keynote to the annual Design Innovate Communicate Entertain, which attracts many of the gaming industry's top men. and women. PlayStation lead inventor Ken Kutaragi, BioWare co-chief Ray Muzyka and and a few hundred other attendees got to hear the successful filmmaker basically say, hey, you guys are the future.
"I feel like gaming has so much more depth than cinema has, potentially," Verbinski said as he praised the immersion of games as disparate as "BioShock," "Halo" and "flOw."
The director, who talked about owning all three major consoles -- he double-checked with moderator and friend of Multiplayer N'Gai Croal to make sure, yes, there are three major consoles -- professed an excitement for gaming's possibilities in between sharing some Hollywood horror stories.
Verbinski said he's thinking about narrative and something called anti-narrative in games; he's wondering why we just play as avatars (characters) and why we can't also play as objects.
He expressed excitement about games and made it clear he was at the DICE summit to network and get involved in the industry. He made no effort to apologize for the ignorance he sees in Hollywood, a blindness both to games' potential but to creativity in general. "In my industry, instinct is nearing extinction," Verbinski said.
He criticized "Pirates" studio Disney for what he described as their initial disinterest in making a massively multiplayer online game about the world in the movies, a project that he thought would extend the experience of the first "Pirates" movie for big-time fans. It wasn't started for years and then was made without his direct involvement. He suggested that may have been "a breach of contract." Of the "Pirates" action games released for consoles, he said, "They are considered merchandising. The same as a poster or a little wind-up doll."
Studios are missing the value of games, Verbinski said. But hey, they were missing him, too. He wanted it to be clear to the game makers that he's with them and to caution them not to be like the stiffest members of the studios.
"We must make executives uncomfortable," he said. He recalled that Disney executives first reacted to Johnny Depp's acting in the first "Pirates" movie by asking: "What is he doing? Is he drunk? Is he gay? What's the whole thing?" It's quirks, the awkward moments, that make a creative work the most interesting, Verbinski said. He urged all of the creators in the room to fearlessly exhibit them in their work."Let's not make games that remind us of a better version of the same thing," he said. "Gaming breaks all the rules. It's obvious to players and the creators. Why not live in that realm of broken rules for a while?"