A lot of people love Randy Pitchford. He’s open, friendly, engaging with gamers (be they fans of his work at Gearbox Software or not) and he likes to talk a lot. He’s deeply attached to the Duke Nukem franchise, and is almost as charismatic as the ass-kicking alien-killer himself.
So inviting him to a BAFTA discussion panel focusing on the exhausting final approach of Duke Nukem Forever
makes a whole lot of sense.
During the hour-long presentation, Randy covered a lot of ground in regards to Duke, Gearbox, his feelings to the franchise and the state of the industry today. Here, we present you with some choice quotes from the evening, along with a bunch of photos detailing the event. We’ll just step to one side and let Randy speak for himself from here.
Duke as an Icon
“The internet’s great. We can see where the trends are, and what people are interested in. And it was very obvious that Duke Nukem
has somehow become important to the game industry. He’s become an icon. He has become a meme! There’s the Ventrilo Harassment
video for example, which has had an insane amount of hits on Youtube.
"But I wonder where it’s all come from - the fact he’s become an icon certainly has nothing to do with all the great games that have come out. There hasn’t been any! So there’s something else about this character that’s made him such a lasting memory for gamers.”
The Generation Gap
“There’s this really interesting tension happening right now. Video games are now mainstream - back when Duke Nukem 3D
came out it was more of a niche hobby. Today, if you’re not playing a game you’re at least aware of games as an industry. We’re facing this really interesting generation gap.
"It’s probably the biggest generation gap in the history of all media, period, in the history of the world. Our parents had to deal with the ‘problem’ of rock and roll, and the idea of their older generation was that rock and roll was going to bring down all of Western civilisation. That the Beatles were going to turn us all into corrupt horrible individuals.
“Even that generation gap had an interesting component though, which was that they at least understood the value of music. Sure, they had their own ideas about what music should be, but at least they understood it - they just didn’t like the content. They disapproved of the tempo, the pace and some of the lyrics and themes behind the music. But they understood that music was art.
“Today, the older generation gap has no such point of reference with video games, and the policymakers today tend to be those who were not raised in a video game culture, and so there’s more prominence in trying to prove that games is a form of expression, is absolutely art and entertainment, and that it’s cool.”
Other Game Heroes are Pussies
"Duke definitely has the biggest ego in the world. He wrote a book called 'Why I'm So Great' - who does that? But in his world, everyone loves him... He’s part of this crazy, fun house hall of mirrors universe where he is the centre of all of that goes on.
In many ways, it’s a similar thing to Iron Man’s
Tony Stark. How awesome was that character? This guy’s super-rich, crazy-smart guy who can do whatever the hell he wants and he's loved for it.
"What a wild character, and one of the reasons why I think that worked is the reason why Duke is kind of sticky right now. We are really in a time when most of our heroes have become pussies. Most of our heroes have become emo, and they take themselves so seriously.
"And we’re guilty of that too, I mean look at what we did with Brothers in Arms
. With that, we really wanted to treat the subject matter with so much deference and wanted to get so real that we took a tone about sacrifice and real human emotion. These characters have real emotions and real problems.
"Duke doesn't have any problems. He just kicks ass and so we have this world where heroes now are trying to be so human and so believable, that it's actually surprisingly fresh to have this guy show up again and doesn't give a crap. He's just badass, wins, and that's fine."