Spielberg on Video Games – Pong, JAWS, Rock Band, Boom Blox


“I was making Jaws and living on Martha’s Vineyard. Somebody plugged in a coin op game called Pong at the merry-go-round in Oak Bluffs. I remember Richard Dreyfus and I, playing Pong together, got hooked. After shooting every day we’d come back and unwind by playing Pong. That got me into the whole videogaming world.”

One of this year’s best games is Boom Blox for the Nintendo Wii, which was conceived and designed by Steven Spielberg in collaboration with Electronic Arts. We got the chance to talk with the famed director about his motivation for making a game that didn’t tell a story, his own experience playing videogames, and his first glimpse of the videogame industry 35 years ago.

Can you tell me about the genesis of the idea you pitched to Electronic Arts that became Boom Blox?

After one of the meetings on our more complicated game I’m making, I was walking to my car with the team leader and I said I’ve got this idea for the Wii platform. I’d been so impressed with the interactivity it gives you, the rush where you’re the cause and you get to see the effect. So I pitched a game of just knocking blocks down. It’s a staple in every household, with three dimensional physical blocks. But it’s in all homes with kids and I thought it could be almost a sporting activity for the Wii. You would get awards based on a point system based on your skill.

I understand that you’ve been a Boom Blox household since your family was able to try a prototype early on. Is that correct?

That’s correct. My kids had a chance to not only tackle it, but to give me input.

What was their reaction when they first tried it?

They were late for dinner. We had to call them like five times to get them out of the family room to come eat. I figured at least I’d sold my family because I couldn’t get them out of the room.

In Boom Blox, some people are more inclined to knocking things over by throwing balls, and others like the mounting dread of the Jenga-like mode where you take out one piece at a time until it falls over. Do you have a favorite mode yourself?

My kids like to grab pieces and very carefully pull them out. But I like the knocking stuff down. I’d been playing blocks all my life with all seven of my kids as they were growing up. That’s how I came up with the game. That was going to be the draw, to get parents and kids in the same space together, finally playing a game together that would appeal to adults as well as kids…

Read the rest of the article here:  A Close Encounter with Steven Spielberg

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