Art & Design Magazine

The People Behind the Video Games: David Cage

By Americanart

Cleaning the canopy

Screen shot from Heavy Rain, 2010, Written and Directed by David Cage. Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC.

Exhibition coordinator Georgina Goodlander and curator Chris Melissinos conducted interviews with video game designers, developers, writers, and composers for the upcoming exhibition, The Art of Video Games, which opens March 16, 2012 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Clips from the interviews will be featured in the exhibition. In this series, Georgina reveals some of the things she learned during these interviews. This month, she takes a look at the creative force behind the ground-breaking game, Heavy Rain.

I have been playing Heavy Rain for some time now. It is taking me a long time, because I have to keep taking breaks! The entire game is compelling, but there are certain moments where the emotion triggered by my participation in the story is so powerful that I have to stop playing for a while. If you had told me a few years ago that a video game could convey empathy, terror, guilt, and relief in such a forceful and tangible way, I’m not sure I would have believed you. But that is exactly what Quantic Dream CEO and founder, David Cage, achieved with Heavy Rain.

Here is an excerpt from our interview with David Cage during this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.

Georgina Goodlander: What was your main goal in Heavy Rain?

David Cage: I had one and only goal. It was to make the player feel something. All the experience of Heavy Rain was designed with emotion in mind, and I wanted – you know in video games you feel emotions. You feel fear, you feel stress, tension, frustration. But I wanted to explore more complex emotions, more subtle emotions that you usually find in movies or in books. I wanted the player to feel sad, to feel depressed, to feel uncomfortable, to really care for what’s going on on-screen and forget that this is just a program moving some pixels on a TV screen, but truly believing in these characters and paying attention to them.

Georgina: Heavy Rain is unusual in that it reveals a story as you play. The story is told through gameplay rather than cutscenes (in-game movies). Why did you decide to do it this way?

David: The narrative structure of games has always been a problem for me, because usually games are really articulated around action scenes. With Heavy Rain I was looking for a way to make the player play the story. Not watch the story [in between action scenes], but really tell the story through his actions. And that was the main challenge from a conceptual point of view, to make this story fully interactive.

Georgina: Why did you choose video games as your medium of expression?

David: I guess what is really unique about games is the fact that they put you in the shoes of the main character, and you make choices that will have consequences. What I enjoyed and discovered during Heavy Rain was the fact that the game could behave like a mirror [for the player]. There are some moral choices at some points, some things where you really wonder, “What should I do?” You need to decide what you want to do and who you want to be. It’s not about writing one single story, or one character, it’s about writing multiple stories for multiple characters.


Heavy Rain has many different endings and an almost infinite number of pathways to take you there. How will my story end? I don’t know yet. Time to take a deep breath and dive back in…

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