Would Shakespeare Have Been a Good Game Designer?

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Would Shakespeare Have Been a Good Game Designer?

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The Executive Producer of Dante's Inferno thinks that if the Bard were alive today, he would have been at the forefront of game design.

Shakespeare may have been one of the most influential people to have ever lived - and certainly one of the most influential penmen of all time - but there's really not a lot of Shakespeare in modern gaming, is there? We have bards, but we don't have the Bard. We don't have epic boss fights pitting Othello against Iago, and we don't have games based on Hamlet, either.

But not only does Visceral's Jonathan Knight - Executive Producer of Dante's Inferno - want to make a game based on Macbeth, he thinks that Shakespeare could have been a good game designer, too. Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, Knight mused on how the Bard would have done as the Developer.

Shakespeare would have been on the forefront. He was an innovator and not just a great story-teller. Arguably, he's more of a medium innovator. He borrowed heavily. "Hamlet" is a complete rip-off of a story on the prince of Denmark. Some people think he lifted it from a work that actually came between the two stories.

He was such a master at harnessing the new. For him, the new medium was open air theater on the south side of the Thames. He solidified a big portion of the English language with his plays much like Dante did with Italian vernacular.

Not only might Shakespeare have had some decent input on the field of game design, says Knight, but Dante Alighieri (whose Inferno provided the very loose impetus for Visceral's action game) might have fit right in too. In fact, the original decision to make a game based on Dante's Inferno came from seeing similarities between the poem and modern videogames: Dante's maps were like level design, and he even had "boss fights," too:

"He often has a guardian and that to me feels like a boss. It could be a giant or epic character who prevents you from making progress and you have to defeat this giant monster. There's King Minos at the end of Limbo, for example. In that sense, he's sort of laying out various challenges."

The full interview with Jonathan Knight is actually really interesting to anyone who's been intrigued by Dante's Inferno - or just wondered "wait, a poem about the Inferno? What?" - so give it a go.

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If the Bard were alive today he'd be writing award winning novels, plays, and possibly newspaper articles. He probably would cameo as himself in a movie or two and voice himself in cartoons and video games. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be designing games.

Hmm... if Shakespeare were a modern developer... at least we might be able to get away from the "five dollar writers" that the industry keeps using.

I disagree, if Shakespeare was alive I reckon he'd be in the television or film industry, hes very good at creating a scene and his plays are quite cinematic at times, more suited for the big screen

A Shakespeare game... yeah I doubt ol' Will would do something like games.

TheDoctor455:
Hmm... if Shakespeare were a modern developer... at least we might be able to get away from the "five dollar writers" that the industry keeps using.

And we would also get some pretty heavy storylines too, as well with great dialogue I bet

Paddin:
I disagree, if Shakespeare was alive I reckon he'd be in the television or film industry, hes very good at creating a scene and his plays are quite cinematic at times, more suited for the big screen

Also wrong.

Someone with the Bard's insight into the dark side of human nature, with his masterful grasp grasp of wordplay and of lyrical metre?

My friends, if Shakespeare alive today he would be at the top of the rap charts.

I dunno...Shakespeare could retell a story well, but could he make a new one from scratch so easily? (Or disguise one so well that it wouldn't be recognized?) I don't buy that. He was an awesome guy, but his craft was literature, not games.

Leodiensian:

Paddin:
I disagree, if Shakespeare was alive I reckon he'd be in the television or film industry, hes very good at creating a scene and his plays are quite cinematic at times, more suited for the big screen

Also wrong.

Someone with the Bard's insight into the dark side of human nature, with his masterful grasp grasp of wordplay and of lyrical metre?

My friends, if Shakespeare alive today he would be at the top of the rap charts.

Touché.

I have to agree entirely with this man

Ummmmm... What? What the hell could Shakespeare offer to gaming? I'm sorry, I just can't picture it.

oh but we do have the Bard, & we have his tale too.

Not really, his stories would be very generic.

How does being a famous story teller equal a good game designer? Telling a story and designing a game are two completely different things.
Now, if you said he'd write good game stories... I don't know. Interactive stories and non-interactive ones work differently. We can't tell.

In short? No.

Yes, Shakespeare, or Francis Bacon, would have been a great video game designer, because not only was he a famous playwright but an early scientist as well. The combination of the love of language, combined with his love of studying the empirical world I think would make him be brilliant at designing video games.

(JOKE POST)

No way.

If Shakespeare was a video game designer, we'd be looking at a pissing contest between Hideo Kajima's Metal Gear Solid: 20 BILLION, and Hamlet 5: Lydia's Revenge.

Both of which contain only a single Quick-Time-Event to signify "gameplay", and the rest long-winded supposition.

I don't think he'd be a game designer. Writer, definately, but either for books or for television/movies.

If Shakespeare was alive today, I'd hunt him down for giving us shitty plays to read in school.

I can think of some English teachers who would tear their hair out in rage if they read this article.

But yeah, if anything he'd probably make a good scriptwriter for movies or TV.

A videogame version of Macbeth=good idea. If he were here today, Videogames would be able to reach out the halo and MW2 players, and teach culture while actually having fun in the process! Genius!

Actually, Robert McKee's book Story suggests that Shakespeare was the sort that would've loved a camera. His plays have a lot to do with extra-personal conflict (culture, religion, environment, etc.), and he was working with a medium that didn't specialize in expressing that. The stage is better suited for expressing personal conflict (between two individuals), but Shakespeare did what he did anyway.

Unfortunately, as much as a shining example of theater Shakespeare is, I don't think the medium of video games is at the point where someone like him would know what to do with it. Unless he played Portal.

I suppose he'd make good romance/revenge stories...but the gameplay would have to be left to someone else. How would you play the end of Romeo & Juliet?

Leodiensian:

Paddin:
I disagree, if Shakespeare was alive I reckon he'd be in the television or film industry, hes very good at creating a scene and his plays are quite cinematic at times, more suited for the big screen

Also wrong.

Someone with the Bard's insight into the dark side of human nature, with his masterful grasp grasp of wordplay and of lyrical metre?

My friends, if Shakespeare alive today he would be at the top of the rap charts.

Heh, he's too middle class for rap music, he was even educated at a grammer school. I don't mean to generalise but most people in the middle classes in England go into rock or pop music.

Tbh, i see him more as a movie script writer.

"He borrowed heavily." "He was such a master at harnessing the new."

You, sir, are an idiot. You can't borrow heavily and be in the "new". This probably why you think that your heavily borrowed game of the Devine Comedy works. The thing that made Shakespeare great wasn't the stories he borrowed, it was his language. Language doesn't translate to the visual, and there isn't a chance in hell that he would skip writing plays or movies for a chance to make video games, the lesser story telling art form there is right now (because game stories can't compete at all with movies or plays). Someone who loves words would not cross to the interactive media of visuals and sounds. It's like saying Martin Scorsese is such a visionary director that if he was put back in Shakespeare's time he would want to paint.

God no, he would be making games with nothing but penis jokes and sex.

Um . . .
Shakespere did not write the Divine Comedy.

But while we're on the subject, I don't think Shakespeare would have been a good game designer. The skills for storytelling in theater is vastly different from how you do it in movies, let alone games. Shakespeare probably wouldn't be any good at game making.

Onyx Oblivion:
I suppose he'd make good romance/revenge stories...but the gameplay would have to be left to someone else. How would you play the end of Romeo & Juliet?

PRESS X TO NOT D- Nevermind.

If Shakespeare was alive to day he would be a playwright. There's really no reason to think otherwise -- plays still exist, and people still go to them.

Would you be happy if you fought the last boss in a game, then it killed everyone and the game ended? Then you found out that's actually the intended ending? No?

Then Shakespeare wouldn't have been a good game designer. :P

docbox1567:
... there isn't a chance in hell that he would skip writing plays or movies for a chance to make video games, the lesser story telling art form there is right now (because game stories can't compete at all with movies or plays). [emphasis added]

I call foul on account of Final Fantasy VII, Mass Effect (1 and 2), Bioshock, Final Fantasy VI, Okami, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy X, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and many, many more games that have surpassed all other forms of storytelling due to their use of interactivity.

In short: no offense, but I disagree. Strongly.

Jaredin:

TheDoctor455:
Hmm... if Shakespeare were a modern developer... at least we might be able to get away from the "five dollar writers" that the industry keeps using.

And we would also get some pretty heavy storylines too, as well with great dialogue I bet

Ok, my good man... where would we find the voice actors good enough to pull off Shakespeare level dialogue. Actually pay good people? Nothenkee. Beyond that... his games would be massive wall o'texts every time I turned a corner and stabbed a sentry to death. he can stay dead, or at least writing things more suited to his (admittedly brilliant) style.

sidereal_day:
If Shakespeare was alive to day he would be a playwright. There's really no reason to think otherwise -- plays still exist, and people still go to them.

True plays are still in existence, but they are in no way the populist medium that plays were back then. The play nowadays is considered much more for the middle and upper classes, whereas everyone watched plays in Shakespeare's day.

God no. He would have been horrible! He's a playwrite he wrote things that made good plays and set in motion crucial ideas that we wouldn't be at the stage of how to tell a story with out him. I mean maybe if we can zap him threw history, but even then he'd still be writing like he would in the 1600s
EVEN THEN! I dunno. He was born at the right place at the write time. We want shoot 'em ups now. Not "much ado about nothing: the videogame"

John Funk:

Shakespeare would have been on the forefront. He was an innovator and not just a great story-teller. Arguably, he's more of a medium innovator.

And that, kids, is why you don't do drugs.

Shakespear was a penniless writer who arguably stole his best work. Hold on...are there still places going at Rockstar?

He borrowed heavily. "Hamlet" is a complete rip-off of a story on the prince of Denmark. Some people think he lifted it from a work that actually came between the two stories.

Sounds to me like Jonathan Knight is trying desperately to justify his stupid excuse for a game. "It's okay that I ripped off The Divine Comedy because Shakespeare ripped off an old Danish legend!"

Earth to Knight: no one is complaining about Shakespeare ripping off anything to create Hamlet because the drama he created offers one of the most compelling insights into the human psyche ever written, and he did so through a language which is almost unmatched for its command of rhythm and imagery. Whereas by comparison the Dante's Inferno videogame kicks all subtlety in the head and officially loses any credibility as a medium capable of telling a serious story at the point where Dante kills Death with his own scythe, and frequently spews the kind of banal dialogue that even action movie producers would think twice about.

If games be the food of life, play on sir, play on.

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