Game Development Reference
Interview with Richard Garriott: The Three Grand
Eras of Gaming—cont'd
design no longer matters; all that matters is doing A/B testing of using
pink cows instead of brown cows.” Then you have a great monetiz-
ing game. There is clearly a science to what I will call slot machines.
You want to use every trick in the topic in order to maximize your
engagement and ultimately monetization, but I would argue that the
same science influences a filmmaker. You must have your correct cre-
scendo of highs and lows to keep your audience captivated and keep
them wanting to come back. Let's make you watch the sequel and the
next sequel. Their monetization events are longer periods. You see fran-
chises die because someone does a bad movie. No one will touch it
and it comes back a decade later because someone is doing a good job
with it. The property has not gotten any better or worse. It's the same
And so yes, I do think the designer has greater responsibility and is
closer to understanding what it takes to create good game design, but fun-
damentally it is just another tool in his arsenal.
Q: How do you see the eras of gaming evolving as we move forward? What
do you see as the next game era?
A: I think we will eventually get to a true virtual reality. If not The Matrix ,
at the very least the personal pod or headset motorcycle helmet that plugs
pretty darn deeply into virtual reality and allows you to live there. That is
ultimately a future that I believe we will see. The question is: how many
steps and how far away is that? It could be pretty darn far away as far
as I'm concerned. It is not around the corner, but there will be another
iteration. I would not have foreseen this one, so I do not think I have any
insight into the next one; what I can tell you is how quickly this one is
going to shake out. This has happened before. We are in our third era.
If you look at the first era, it took twenty years. Solo play started in
1980 and ended really in about 2000. For the first five years, tons of new
companies were created. For the second five years, the second quarter of
that, lots of those companies flourished. Any of those that did a good job
of producing top-quality product and were marketing and distributing it in
a top-quality way got their fair market share based upon their quality.
After about 10 years, halfway into it, the consolidation began to happen.
The big retailers—whether it's Target, Electronics Boutique, or specialty
retailers—they do not want to talk to 20, 30, or 40 individual publishers
because it's too many relationships to manage. They really only wanted