Game developer Barry Meade: "The games industry supports the uninitiated"

Video games are like movies: if a streak succeeds, everyone tries to imitate it. No more, says Fireproof Games co-founder Barry Meade.


BarryMeade is the creator and co-founder of Fireproof Games, a video game studio known for the hit series The Room. The Spielentstand 2012, after four years of saving and commissioned work for other major projects. "The Room" was an agreement with its interactive, tactile puzzle boxes in the early days of the iPad - the touchscreen finally did not feel like a compromise. The tablet rather became a kind of portal into another world.

After more than twelve million games sold and three sequels sold, Barry Meade is today one of the select circle of game makers who can demand money for a mobile game. His tip to other developers: try something new. The games industry should stop copying itself all the time. What does that mean? And why does his biggest hit have three sequels? We asked Barry Meade.

TIME ONLINE: Barry, you said the game industry loves to do the same game over and over again. Is there really a difference to other media? That happens in the film industry, too.

Barry Meade: Games cost less in production than movies, which is of course a difference. But of course you can make a lot of money with games. Here millions and billions in profits are possible, clearly that makes people crazy.

ZEIT ONLINE: Why is this tendency to copy a problem?

Meade: As a creative player, you have to grab and move your players. If you do something great, then the players give you their money for it. Anyone who copies makes it too easy. Investors are well-received by market research data from other successful games that purportedly explain "what people like". On the other hand, teams with new ideas have a hard time. In the end, our industry supports the uninitiated. And since 95 percent of all games fail anyway, I think the entire strategy of risk avoidance is wrong. This will convince publishers and investors, but not the players.

This article first appeared in the current issue of the magazine "WASD," which deals with games in essays. This issue is about fraud in computer games. © WASD

ZEIT ONLINE: In your game The Room was especially the intuitive control on the touchscreen new.

Meade: A bunch of lousy console sports has driven us to the decision for this game. A console game feels great because a good developer uses the control mechanism, the joypad, meaningfully. We wanted to realize a similarly good control in a mobile game.

ZEIT ONLINE: But you have already resorted in many ways to what "people like".

Meade: As an artist you can reinterpret something and you can marry the old with the new. Plagiarism might look alike, but it's something else. A copy evaluates the original, an own interpretation takes it to a whole new level.

ZEIT ONLINE: And the three sequels of The Room are not copies?

Meade: Sequels are something completely natural. First, as an artist, you have finally found something that people like and of course want to continue. Second, you can use it to pay your bills. And third, you usually have lots of ideas lying around that have not made it all your first game. After the first sequel, it's all about asking if you can add something new. One could, of course, argue that a sequel is the same as a clone. That would be idiotic, but of course you could say it anyway.

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REF: https://www.zeit.de/digital/games/2018-12/spieleentwickler-barry-meade-videospielindustrie-videospiele-nachahmung