Barker: Games a 'playground'

Touts creative potential at summit

(Originally published June 28, 2007)

Innovative creators like horror mastermind Clive Barker testified Tuesday to the crumbling walls between entertainment and gaming at the second annual Hollywood & Games Summit at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.

Sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter and the Games Developer Conference, the event brought together luminaries from both industries like Barker, the writer-director who unveiled his upcoming video game "Jericho."

In his keynote one-on-one discussion with Gina McIntyre, managing editor, features, at The Reporter, Barker expressed his confidence in the future growth of the video game sector.

"This is an area of work where artists of every kind have huge potential," Barker said. "It's a wonderful playground. We have just begun."

He delved into the origins of "Jericho," a gory horror piece set in a remote desert outpost. Originally conceived as a novel by Barker, the concept soon took hold in his imagination as a game, which will be released in the fall.

"Maybe if games hadn't existed, I would have said, 'Make it a movie,' " Barker said. "But I much prefer the idea of having 20 hours to play this world, to enter this labyrinth."

Barker dismissed critics of the genre who consider video games beneath an art form, noting that with just two decades of history under its belt, the equivalent of a "War and Peace" game might be on the horizon.

"We can't be highhanded or condescending," Barker cautioned. "This is a very important area right now, and not just because it's making a lot of money."

Themes from Barker's discussion echoed in other panels on the first day of the conference, including an exploration of the "digital divide" that no longer divides films and video games.

"I started as a programmer of games back in the days when video games had nothing to do with mass entertainment," said Jordan Mechner, creator of the video game "Prince of Persi," which is being adapted for film. "In the last few years, that has completely changed. Now I'm feeling like I work in one larger industry."

The Reporter publisher John Kilcullen opened the day's sessions with a brief rundown of statistics that unite the two industries. "There is a tremendous amount of convergence between those who play games and those who want to see movies," he said.

Hollywood and Games summit Web site