One thing about video game developers: they always want to know what the other guy or gal is playing. That's no different at DICE 2011 where the big guns at the Keynote talked about what has been occupying their time. There's probably an intrinsic need to know if someone has been playing your game.
- Dr. Greg Zeschuk - BioWare: I was telling the guys backstage, I play all of the big social games that come along: CityVille, FrontierVille … I play them all to see what's new. Normally what I do is grab one of our senior designers and pull them in and go "This is the future of gaming!" Not in its essence, but what it represents. What I mean by that is the ability to reach so many people so fast. Now, with my iPhone, it's a disaster. I download every possible game on my iPhone to play it. It was hard to play games back in the day, but it's very easy to sit on the bus or wherever and play games on the iPhone. (Later during the Keynote, Greg interrupts to talk about how he got everyone in the office playing Restaurant City which ended up disrupting productivity - the system guys wouldn't fix problems in the games because they were too busy playing.)
- Dr. Ray Muzyka - BioWare: I play a lot of games and it's hard to pick out just one, but I'm a big fan of Red Dead Redemption. I was surprised how much I loved it. I finished it, and I did all the endings and all the extra content. Even the mini-games, I mean you could play those for hours. The story itself is great, and there's a lot to learn there about how they brought the story to life. I think that's an example of how even in this time of change, there's a chance for larger teams and larger studios to do something that is just magnificent and craft something that just draws you in and demonstrates that video games really are an art form. I think that's true of big games, small games, it's going to be true of social games … we're starting to see a lot more richness in the depth of projects.
- Mark Cerny - Cerny Games: It's not really a recent game, but I just love Flower to death. It's so fearless, and it's a total commitment to an idea. After Flower came out, Kellee Santiago from thatgamecompany has been kind of drawn into this whole Roger Ebert "Are Games Art?" debate. She had an hour lecture on this topic, but I feel like she could have just put her the game on display and said "Case proved." For me it operates as art: it is the dream of a flower. You play the wind. It's not relentlessly goal-driven in a way that would interfere with its ability to function in other ways, plus it's beautiful as all get out. Pretty much every screen of that game you could put a frame around and hang it on your wall. I'm really looking forward to their next title Journey, a lot.
- Bruce Shelley - Zynga; Last year, the game that really affected me was FrontierVille. I know I'm working for the company now, but I wasn't about the game. Brian Reynolds and his team built that game, and it's a real game, and a serious game, and it really opened my eyes as what could happen in this space. I remember how fun, and how engaging, and how addictive it was. I finally got it. These social networking games are reaching an audience, and delivering gameplay experiences that are way beyond Solitaire and Minesweeper. I could feel the passion in that team, and I realized they were unlocking a lot of new stuff. They were getting people interested in entirely new types of games. I tried FarmVille was pretty simple, and it didn't hold my interest, but FrontierVille I found much richer: the stories, the quests, the characters. There was a foreshadowing of future events that was intriguing. It really opened my eyes to let me see that this is just the start.
- Mike Morhaime - Blizzard: Well, when I'm at home I'm mostly playing our stuff. But, I am very happy that, finally, it's kind of a long time coming, that the mobile phone is finally a gaming device. The promise for that was there for years. I'm sorry to have to choose this one, but Words With Friends is what I spend the most time playing on my iPhone. I play with friends who live out of town that I don't get to talk to very much, and now with have this daily interaction and competition.