Dave and Ted
by Jessica Mulligan
"Oh, hi, Dave."
"Whatcha doin', Ted?"
"The VP wants a design treatment for a massive-multiplayer game."
"Cool! Gonna do a role-playing game?"
"Not sure, Dave; the market is flooded with those things. The only top-line concept I've come up with so far is The Sims Online Meets Tolkien."
"It's been done, Ted. Like, eight or nine times in the last five years ."
"Oh. Ok, we won't be going there, then."
"Do we even have the money to build a massive-multiplayer RPG? They are three or four times as expensive to make as a regular game, you know."
"I don't know about the money, Dave; not my department. I'm a designer, not a number-cruncher."
"I know what you mean, Ted. They tell me to build a shooter, I build a shooter."
"Is that what they have you on, now that Extreme Bloody Badmitton XXX: Hot Sluts with Rackets is on the retail shelves?"
"Yeah, I'm supposed to come up with a treatment for a new kind of first-person shooter. Something that breaks open the market to new players."
"Dave, wasn't Hot Slutssupposed to do that? Break open the market for teenage girls and get us out of this rut of selling to the same 500,000 kids with every game?"
"Yeah, but it isn't working, Ted; 99% of the units are being bought by the same teenage boys we sell all our games to"
"Wow, go figure. Who is buying the other 1%?"
"Hey, Dave, that opens the market a little bit, right?"
"I don't think that's what the Boss had in mind, Ted."
"So, he's worried about the women's market for games?"
"Yeah, he took me to the Red Garter Gentlemen's Club for lunch last week to try to figure it out. We're both stumped. We just can't seem to make a game that will appeal to broads. He was almost in tears about it during his lap dance. It was really sad, Ted. Even Brittany looked all misty-eyed about it."
"Let me guess; he tipped her $40."
"Yeah, he did, as a matter of fact. How did you know, Ted?"
"Never mind. OK, maybe we can help each other. I'm supposed to come up with a persistent world that appeals to both women and men, so maybe we can brainstorm a bit, feed each other some ideas."
"That's why I'm here, buddy."
"OK, Dave, so what have you got so far?"
"Well, the boss wants to reuse as much technology as possible, so it is going to be some kind of first-person shooter."
"Maybe we ought to aim for something different, Dave. Marketing keeps telling us that women don't buy a lot of shooter games."
"I know, but you know my budget is going to be less than $2 million, Ted, no matter what I propose, so I can't afford to build new technology."
"OK, let's go for a re-used shooter, then. Have any top line concepts in mind?"
"Well, a couple. I figure if we want to break out into the female market and still sell some units to our hard core audience, the game oughta have chicks in it, right?"
"Superior thinking, Dave."
"I thought so, too. OK, since we have to have chicks in the game, and chicks are always worried about how they look, then our female 3D models have to be really sexy, built like brick outhouses and dressed in the sexiest clothes our artists can draw, so the gals can feel good about their on-screen avatars. Check, Ted?"
"And girls like being buddies with other girls and talking about make-up, dresses, jewelry, getting married and boys, while guys like big guns, feeling like they have lots of power to make things disintegrate and getting laid, right?
"OK, so my first top-line concept is: Duke Nukem Meets Cosmopolitan Makeover II. It's multiplayer over the Internet. The guys run around Saks Fifth Avenue blasting aliens who are trying to take over the cosmetics department, so the babes can't buy make-up and will feel, like, you know, ugly and all. If a guy sees a girl without make-up, he mistakes her for an alien and shoots her. If she has make-up on, they go to the Lingerie department, she puts on something really lacy and sexy and he gets laid as an energy power-up. Cool, huh?"
"It's missing something."
"Like... I don't know what, but I just can't see it, Dave. I mean, would Brittany buy that game?"
"We could always go over there after work and ask her."
"Superior thinking, Dave."
"I thought so, too. I'll stop at the 7-11 and get us a bunch of one dollar bills."
"Excellent. What's your second top-line concept?"
"Well, Ted, I wanted to vary the mix a little on the second concept. Since chicks like talking and empathizing and tend not to like death matches and all that other cool stuff we know how to build, and guys like to hang out with chicks and pretend to give a crap about all that touchy-feely hoohah so the girls will let them hang out... "
"So my second concept is, roughly, Quake Arena meets AOL Chat."
"Eh? How does that work, Dave?"
"Ted, come on, work with me here! It's really simple: The girls hang out and talk about make-up, dresses, jewelry, getting married and boys while their boyfriends hang out nearby and try to look interested. When the guys get bored, they unlimber the BFG 10,000s and go to town on each other until their girlfriends are ready to go neck in some secluded spot."
"Yeah, neat, huh? Just like real life. What do you think?"
"If you think that's what dating is like in real life, you need to get out more."
"Well, it isn't like National Geographic writes cover stories about this stuff! I'm doing the best I can, man."
"Yeah, sorry, Dave. I didn't mean to criticize; I'm not doing much better. What was your third concept?"
"This one is weird, Ted. I was sitting around this weekend, channel surfing the tube and just kind of vegging, you know? All of a sudden, I'm watching this movie on some women's cable channel, and it's about this mousy, kinda dull woman romance novel writer who goes to South America to find her missing sister, and she gets involved with this soldier of fortune guy to help her. So they have all these adventurers and she starts out scared and all, but over the course of the movie she gets a little braver, a bit more daring and willing to take chances... "
"Yeah, and... "
"And by the end of the movie, she's as daring as he is, willing to try anything, and he respects her for it and they start a relationship based on mutual respect of their similarities and their differences in education, upbringing and moral values."
"Ok, Dave, so what does this have to do with your third top-line concept?"
"Well, call me crazy, Ted, I was thinking: What if we built a game from the woman's point of view and with a woman as the main character? The game would use our existing shooter engine, but we'd wrap a branching story around the danger points in which the woman makes choices and either grows as a person and learns lessons from it, or takes the easy way and just shoots her way to the end through a bunch of scantily-clad, buffed-out jocks and scores a lot less."
"Well, what would the top line be?"
"OK, get ready for this... "
"I'm ready, Dave, fire away. What's the concept?"
"The concept, Ted, is that there is no concept. This would be totally unlike anything we've come up with in the five years I've been in the industry."
"Whoa, waitaminutehere, Dave! You mean, the concept is that you don't compare it to two other games developed by other people?"
"Nope. We develop a completely original design, using the action sequences to move the story along."
"Oh, come on! What are you, insane? Who's going to buy off on that?"
"What do you mean, Ted? I thought it was kind of clever."
"You have got to be kidding. How is the boss going to buy off on it if he can't understand what kind of game you want to make? It's ludicrous!"
"You think so? I mean, I can see some real potential here, a game with some real meaning beyond just how fast you can strafe and pull the trigger... "
"Dave, I'm sorry about this."
"What do you mean... Hey, why did you slap me, you bastard!"
"To knock some sense into you! Snap out of it, man! If you walk in the boss's office with a stupid concept like that, you'll be cleaning out your desk ten minutes later."
"You really think so, Ted?"
"Hell, Dave, I know so! The old man has no sense of humor about these things. Go with Duke Nukemmeets Cosmopolitan Makeover II; it's safer. Even if it doesn't sell to women, we'll still sell to the usual suspects. Very little risk, you know what I mean?"
"Wow. I mean, I really thought I was on to something... "
"Dave, take it from your old buddy Ted; you were on the verge of making a humongous mistake here."
"Gosh, I guess I didn't think it all the way through. Thanks, Ted; I appreciate it."
"No problem, Davey my man. What say we cut out a bit early and head over to the Red Garter? Brittany starts at 4pm."
"Sounds like a winner to me. I'll go grab my stuff. Say, Ted... "
"While we talked, did you come up with any concepts for a massive-multiplayer game that appeals to both men and women?"
"Well, I'm kinda torn between two ideas, I'm Going In meets Barbie Fashion Designer and Battlefield 1942 meets Oprah."
"Go with I'm Going Inmeets Barbie Fashion Designer, Ted."
Yeah. It's fresh and everybody likes Barbie in a low-cut dress. Even Ken."