Not so long a go we featured a bit of news about a game called Last of the Patriots. A fairly inconsequential article about another low budget indie game. The only reason it really got noticed was due to the lead man Paul Davis. Now for those of you who don’t read the credits of computer games (and to be honest who does!), he was involved in a few games you may well have heard of. GTA San Andreas, Man Hunt, Man Hunt 2 and a few others. So a man with an impressive CV!
Having played Last of the Patriots I was left very confused. With appalling graphics (by today’s standards), low quality sounds and simplistic game play I could not understand why this game had been made. Sure it was fun to play and had a decent narrative, but what was the point. So I headed back to the website (www.last-of-the-patriots.com) and had a read. The site spoke of a game that was based on a movie script, a game that provided the player with new game play features, such as flashbacks and moral dilemmas. As I dug deeper into the site I saw reference to a deeper meaning in the game, that it was a statement about the games industry as a whole.
Not satisfied I contacted Paul and asked simply Why? Why produce a game that looked like it was made on a Commodore 64? What was the point?
Games are teaching devices, like movies, and as an adult I didn’t feel that games were teaching much for adults, so I created LOTP.”
Now I was hooked. I had to find out more. How could a man who was involved in some of the biggest and most controversial games ever made be talking about meaning in games! With that in mind I asked him for an interview, and luckily he was up for it!
YARS – Paul, thanks for this opportunity. First of all can I ask you to give a brief history of Paul Davis and the gaming industry?
Paul Davis – I started like anyone else does in this industry, with alot of naivette and a dream. I think like most people I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, if anyone had said I would be making games, I would have laughed at them! I used to look up the credits for games and hunt the people involved, using ICQ, so I could pick their brains, which they were nice enough to let me do. I worked my way up from some pretty horrendous studios in London, up to Rockstar, it was a long arduous journey, but I haven’t regretted it.
YARS – As mentioned in the introduction, you have been involved in some huge and very controversial games. How did you feel at the time, especially with games like Man Hunt 2.
PD – I loved working on the Manhunt series, Rockstar are like the Tarrantino of the industry. Without games like GTA and Manhunt, think how the industry would be?. So I can only truthfully say I feel pride in having worked on those series. Rockstar were one of the few companies willing to push the envelope, which is something very close to my heart, the industry needs more companies like that.
YARS – With your view on the purpose of games in modern society, what was your reaction to Man Hunt 2 being banned?
PD – It wasn’t very surprising, I think Rockstar were expecting it, the truth is violent games sell because it’s what the people want, so who’s really to blame here. Games are a reflection of our societies, and violence is anger, so our societies are very angry, and I think that’s the real problem. I think we as a people have alot to be angry about. It’s a very complex issue though, but I think we need violent games.
YARS – As a man who is interested in the moral core of games and what they can offer to adults, how do you feel when you see the critics blaming games for tragic events.
PD – Truthfully? it’s just witch-hunting isn’t it? Like I’ve stated before the problem lies within society, obviously. Our media is just a reflection of ourselves, and I guess some people just don’t like what they see.
YARS – Ok, on to the main reason I wanted to talk with you. You appear to be a man who is trying to a make statement about the gaming industry today. I remember the days of games that were trying to make a social comment (“Winners don’t take drugs”), but have to admit that there has not been much evidence of that recently.
PD – Do you remember playing ‘soldier’ as a kid? we all did, we were the ‘good guys’ and we’d shoot the ‘bad guys’. Maybe your seeing the connection here?. Games haven’t really evolved much from ‘Soldier’, and personally I’m not interested in playing children’s games anymore, I’m getting too old. I think a question people should ask themselves is, what is this game teaching me?
YARS – How do you see the role of games changing as we progress through the 21st century?
PD – Hopefully towards teaching us how to live our lives better, in a realistic way, Life isn’t black and white, we all know that bad things happen to good people. I truly believe that games have the potential to become the most powerful medium available to mankind, given it’s interactive nature, How many times have you wondered in your life, what if I took the other road? Well you can find out in a game.
YARS – How did you come up with the idea for Last of the Patriots, I read on your site that it started life as an adult game!
PD – There’s a huge market for Pornographic computer games, I could see that but while I was making it, I realized that making a game for money wasn’t going to be of any use to anyone, so I started Last of the Patriots. The game was originally a pretty fun shooter game, but there was nothing there, it had no meaning. Last of the Patriots is very much a reflection on us, and how we sell our souls for money, Johnson is a man whose lost meaning, and is looking for death, and only in hell does he find salvation. It’s also very satirical, the whole game is very much tongue in cheek, the beginning is a total cliche, the marines going down to the planet to kill the evil demons. The game then sees you changing sides, to fight with demons eventually against the corps. The game idea is basically a game that showcases meaning, which is why there is no gameplay or graphics. The whole concept was very much a parody of the games industry and a reflection of our corporate society.
YARS – How big is the team working on the game and do they all share your vision of games with a moral core and a meaning?
PD – The team consists of one person, myself! The game is just a prototype and took a year to develop. The advantage of making a game by yourself is the consistency of the vision, whic
h was required for this production.
YARS – What do you hope will be the reaction from gamers to Last of the Patriots?
PD – The game intention is to hopefully demonstrate that games can be fun without graphics and gameplay and that the underlying meaning is very important to the future of games. If games want to be taken seriously and respected as a medium, they will need deeper values and meaning other than ‘Shoot the bad guys’.
YARS – Once Last of the Patriots has gone gold, what will you do next?
PD – I’ve really gone out on a limb with this prototype, but I think it’s worth it. I intend to continue making prototypes with the intention of bringing new life to the industry. I have some ideas of making a non time sequential game, similar to what Tarrantino did with Pulp Fiction, but currently I’ll be finishing Last of the Patriots2.
YARS – If you were able to play just one game for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why?
PD – It would have to be Final Fantasy 7, for excellent story-telling, and characters you really care about. Which is pretty rare in this industry!
YARS – Well thanks again for taking the time to talk with me. To finish off, what would you like to say to the gaming industry powers that be if you had them all in a room for just 10 minutes?
PD – If games want to be taken seriously, they first need to take themselves seriously. If games want to be taken as art, then they need to have some sort of message. We have a power to help shape the world for the better, why aren’t we using that power?
If this article has got you interested in Paul and his vision of gaming, head over to www.last-of-the-patriots.com and give it a go. Open your mind and let the game take you on a journey like no other.