Life, The Universe, And Gaming: Why I Admire Peter Molyneux
In almost two years of having this column I have never once missed a publish date. And so it is that this week, against all odds, I continue this trend. Some background: I currently have no internet thanks to an ailing exchange that has seen fit to suffer nightly relapses in which it causes my router to blink wildly in the search for a stable DSL connection.
As such, I have resorted to typing this column out, in its entirety, using my Android smartphone (version 2.3, I believe) which I lovingly call my Pwndroid, using the standard web browser. Because I can.
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Coming back to the reason I’ve asked you all here today, I’ve been meaning to talk about this particular topic for a while now and after recent events it would seem the time has come.
For those who don’t know, and how can you not, Peter Molyneux recently gave an interview in which he broke into tears while discussing previous gaming projects and how they failed to meet the high expectations that he had created by talking them up prior to release.
The interview in this case was for a KickStarter project in which he hoped to revive one of his first games, for the current generation. But mostly everyone just remembered it as the Molyneux cry-fest.
Now at the risk of a few “Leave Peter Alone” parodies, I wish to spend today’s column, my dear readers, dearest of all the gamers in the world (especially those who don’t read these), explaining why I think the ‘Neux is not all that bad. In fact, I would go so far as to say I admire the man.
Let’s get some basic stuff out of the way first. Peter Molyneux is one of the nicest guys in gaming despite also being one of the busiest. He always has a smile on his face and speaks in a respectful manner, yet he is constantly attending meetings and focusing on the business side of the industry. Amazing then that he, much like the benevolent Gabe Newell, reads and responds to every single email he receives. Quite something when you consider how busy he is, and how many people he could pay to do such a thing for him.
Peter Molyneux is a man who cares about games, and sees gaming with an almost child-like wonder, evident in any of his interviews or presentations. He hasn’t been corrupted and changed by the industry, he isn’t in it for the money. You can see it in his every word, gesture and expression that he is in it for the love. Of gaming. Of storytelling. Of experiencing new worlds through technology.
A few years ago, prior to Fable II’s release, I watched an alpha gameplay demonstration headed up by the man himself. Having played Fable: The Lost Chapters, this sequel was always getting my money but I had a gander at the video anyway. In it, Molyneux spoke with a passion and excitement that could be felt, to the point that if it really were just marketing strategies, he would have been an unparalleled salesman. In twenty short minutes he got an entire room of usually cynical press ooh’ing and aah’ing, and having actual attachment to the digital rendition of a dog. Dale Carnegie himself couldn’t have done it better.
Of course having now sampled both Fable II and Fable III, we know that it was a case of promising more than could effectively be delivered. But take nothing away from the man who saw his games be received with disappointment yet still remained positive for the future, trying further new things and allowing his mind to run free.
Of critical successes, the industry has many. But of visionaries? John Lennon certainly wasn’t the only dreamer. Unfortunately dreams don’t always translate that well into reality. Story of Peter Molyneux’s life.