Eurogamer: Where did your four main characters come from?
David Cage: You put a part of yourself into the characters when you're a writer, I guess. All of them have a part of me. I like to start working with archetypes. I like the fact that the entry point to the story and to the character is really easy, so when you see the character and hear him talk or see him move or how he looks, in five minutes you've got the feeling you know who he is. That's an archetype, and it can be done very simply and very quickly.
What is interesting is when you start building on the top of this archetype, adding layers, complexity to the character. Maybe you start to surprise the player; you thought you knew this character but, in fact, you've discovered he is more complex than you initially thought. This is how I shape my characters.
Eurogamer: You mentioned during your Developer Session that you do not shy away from real-life issues, stories, dramatics. Is there anything too controversial to be recreated in a videogame?
David Cage: No. Why? Why is it okay to write a book about something but not to make a game. As long as you do it honestly; as long as you have something interesting to say about it as your vision. You have something you need to share with people, whether you share it as a writer, a movie maker or game creator - it's the same thing. It's just different forms of expression. But at the end of the day it can do the same thing.
This is something I hope to develop in the future: to go to different topics and things that maybe aren't used as much in videogames. Games are considered media for kids, for teenagers, so there are things we don't want to talk about. But there is no reason for that. We need to work hard to explain to society and to convince people and players first that interactivity is just another medium. Yes there are games for kids and for teenagers, but there should [also] be games for adults.
Eurogamer: What about rape and paedophilia? Are you saying they can be tackled in videogames?
David Cage: Definitely, yes. If treated the right way and with the right approach, you can definitely talk about anything.
But would you ask this question to a writer? Can you write a book about anything? Yeah, sure, I can. It's the same thing for a movie director. Is there any topic that you never ever mention in your movies? Probably most directors would answer, "No, of course not, there's nothing - I can talk about anything." But to a game developer it still makes sense to ask this question, and I think that says a lot about where we are in this industry.
Eurogamer: What about when you consider a game like Manhunt 2?
David Cage: I don't want to comment on Manhunt 2 because I've not played it. But my feeling about some games in our industry is that some people just went over the top, just for the sake of doing it. When violence or sex become gratuitous, it doesn't tell you anything, it has no interest; it's sex for the sake of sex, violence for the sake of violence. It's then that I feel a bit uncomfortable. And the same thing with a movie. When you see a movie where there's more blood than is really needed and the movie doesn't tell you anything, then you feel like what am I doing here?
Our industry, we have a responsibility in the current situation. If we are considered like kids or teenagers doing these silly things with games... I mean there are reasons for this: we gave politicians reasons to think that way, because we were unable to behave like adults at some points. This is something I hope is going to change.
Eurogamer: You said you're not afraid to show nipples. Does that mean you're confirming nipples in Heavy Rain? [Good grief. - Ed]
David Cage: Haha. Why are so many people obsessed with sex? The rule I give myself is everything is allowed as long as it makes sense in context. As long as it is not gratuitous, as long as it tells something about the story or the characters. Do you know in real life when two adults fall in love they may end up making love? That's the kind of thing that happens. Why not in a game? Why should it be treated differently? I'm doing a game that will be rated 18+. What should I hide when I'm rated that way?
Eurogamer: Certainly not nipples.
David Cage: Certainly not nipples! Haha. That's a good answer. But again, it's not showing nipples for the sake of sex, it's just to say, "OK, does it tell you something about the character? Does it add to the experience?" It's not about creating this teenage feeling of, "Oh look, she's naked! It's so funny!" And then laugh like an idiot about it. It's really about her as a character: real, vulnerable. It tells you something about her.
Eurogamer: All three platform holders are trying to expand to mainstream audiences. Party and social games are the typical route, but could what these companies are looking for be a game like Heavy Rain? Something the intellectual masses can sink their teeth into.
David Cage: The market is not one big block of people having the same profile and the same expectations. There are kids, there are teenagers, there is room for family entertainment. We try with Heavy Rain to create some room for adult entertainment. Sony is doing a fantastic job at addressing all audiences. I also believe it's one of the very few publishers taking risks and giving chances to developers having crazy ideas. Look at LittleBigPlanet for an example.
Eurogamer: Another of Sony's innovations is the PS3 wand. What opportunities does that present for you?
David Cage: Well we're really interested in this, of course, because we have this close relationship with Sony, but also because we've had a chance to play with some prototypes and it's really promising and interesting. We think about movement and how it can reinforce immersion even since Fahrenheit. We use the controller in a certain way in Heavy Rain: we use the sticks, the Sixaxis motion control, trying really to emulate what your character does on screen, trying to make you feel like you are doing the movement. So we are very close to this way of thinking.
We would be interested to discover whether there is a way to use this device for more mature audience and for a more mature experience.