EA's Guildford-based Bright Light studio has a focus on creating games for kids and families, so it was only right that studio VP and GM Harvey Elliott was on hand at the recent Shine Week - a seven day festival to celebrate creative talent among young people. We caught up with him to discuss Boom Blox, potential sequels on other platforms and if we'll ever see any games based on the classic Bullfrog IP EA owns.
VideoGamer.com: The Boom Blox games have obviously both been very successful, but it must be nice to see so many kids getting involved creatively?
Harvey Elliott: Yeah, I mean it really is. It's quite interesting, because this is quite a young age group, so these are between 10 and 11. We've been going for about 45 minutes or so and they've already created some levels. Within 10 minutes one group had made a chair out of the blox. I never thought about building furniture from the Boom Blox - that's really, really cool. As we go round a little bit further you see some of the challenges people have put in. They've really thought about it; they haven't just gone for a pretty pile of bricks. "This one's about knocking this gem on the floor, so I'll wedge it in behind these boxes". It's great. We test games a lot with kids during development, but we don't often see them play with the finished product. Actually seeing the finished game in the hands of people is pretty cool.
VideoGamer.com: Do you think it's possible that we could see Boom Blox on other formats?
HE: Yeah, I wouldn't rule anything out, never say never. Why I think Boom Blox has really worked is that it captured the spirit of the Wii. It's about the motion control, it's about throwing a ball or throwing an object. I can't imagine that on other devices at the moment. There's something very physical about it. Right now I'm really proud that it's stayed focused on the Wii and I think it's the right thing. Who knows for the future.
VideoGamer.com: The big thing from E3 was obviously Project Natal and Sony's motion controller. How do you feel about Natal? We're you pleased to see it?
HE: It looks awesome. I just think it looks lovely. I was really impressed by what they had to show and I'm positive we'll be making games for it. Anything like that where you can broaden your audience or the way people access games, I think is perfect. We'd love to see stuff on it. Whether it's this [Boom Blox], I don't know.
VideoGamer.com: Could you imagine that Boom Blox could work on Natal?
HE: Yes, I could imagine games like this playing on Natal. But I also think that Boom Blox really captured the essence of the Wii, and I think it works for the Wii, it's designed for the Wii. I think for Natal there are things out there that would do the same job that Boom Blox did for the Wii, that we could do for Natal.
VideoGamer.com: The Wii really started something for motion controls. It seemed to bring a lot of people into the hobby of gaming. Do you think motion controls will have a big part in gaming's future?
HE: I think where motion controls really work is making games more accessible. I would never have imagined my mum playing a bowling game, she's in her late 60s. I couldn't imagine her bowling, I couldn't imagine her doing exercise in front of the TV, I couldn't imagine her knocking down a tower of things with a control pad. The Wii and the motion control makes it accessible. I think that's what motion control does - it makes games more accessible to people. I don't think they replace typical control devices or typical interfaces, but they do definitely augment them. The right games work on the right platforms. They're definitely here to stay and they're definitely cool, and through the accessibility they're bringing more people into gaming.