Yesterday, news was floating around the web about a possible game based on "Antichrist," a new movie from Lars Von Trier which has received a boatload of controversy. The film, which revolves around a couple staying in a cabin in the woods, is filled with extremely sexual and violent imagery, ranging from the graphic death of a child to close-ups of vaginal insertion and genital mutilation. It's not, shall we say, for the kids.
Today I had a chance to speak with Morten Iversen, the Game Director behind "Eden," the title based on "Antichrist." Iverson is not new to the video game world. He worked at Io Interactive as the writer of the "Hitman" series for six years before forming his own company. When that company went under he joined up with Zentropa, Von Trier's production company.
"Von Trier has been extremely fond of video games for ages, and has been an avid player of 'Alone in the Dark,'" explained Iverson. "He's been circulating the idea internally…that making games would be a good idea."
But is "Antichrist" really the one to start with? Iverson admits that it's a challenge.
"[The movie] goes against all the conventions of how you make games and what you can do in games. Dead kids, nudity, graphic violence. It will be a very controversial game, and it'll be a game that doesn't really compare with anything else."
Clearly there are going to be issues with such themes with certain retailers, but Iverson takes those in stride. "We don't expect Wal-Mart to roll in crates of this and put it on their shelves. Absolutely not available at Wal-Mart!"
"Eden" is actually planned as a download-only game, which Iverson hopes to get on services like Xbox Live and Steam. In style, he describes it as a "nightmarish version of Myst."
There are some very unique gameplay concepts at work, though. When you queue up the game, players will have to upload a profile, describing what their biggest phobias are. For example, are you afraid of spiders, loud noises or the dark? Based on that profile, certain themes will be loaded into the game to challenge you on those phobias.
But what about interational ratings boards? Recent releases of "Fallout 3" and "Grand Theft Auto 4" have had to be edited in order to see shelves in certain territories. Is Zentropa willing to make changes to the project?
"Yes, of course. Just like the movie, they made two versions so they can get released in countries like Italy and the US, [countries] that view things differently than we do in Denmark." The game's release will be edited, as well, depending on the region.
Despite all the controversy (to which Iverson replies with a warrior-like battle cry: ""Bring it on! Controversy!"), the game's release is still a ways off, planned for sometime next year. Currently the team at Zentropa is just four people and the game has just finished the design phase. Next it's a matter of staffing up and getting the title playable. Iverson seems pumped at the prospect.
"I admire Lars von Trier's work immensely, and look forward to developing this game based on his work and hopefully with his creative input. He's an extremely creative, condescending, misogynist genius with a shipload of phobias rattling him every day, so we're like kindred spirits."
Now the only question that remains: Where's the Project Natal version?
"Of course if Microsoft is interested, they could bring us an offer. Chopping of axes and stuff like that, I'm not sure Microsoft would be extremely happy to have a nihilist game with their technology."