Every month an industry leader wraps up MCV/DEVELOP with their unique insight. This month, we talk to Blazing Griffin managing director, Naysun Alae-Carew
Unusually, Blazing Griffin makes both films and games – how did that come about?
It started young! I grew up reading books, playing games like Zork and Monkey Island. When I was ten, it was natural to watch a Star Wars movie, read a book in the extended universe or play Jedi Knight on the PC. I never felt like format was a barrier; a story could transcend any medium. I started in film, but I found like-minded individuals in games and TV who saw the same thing – we could make something greater than the sum of its parts by bringing our industries together. At Blazing Griffin we’re storytellers first in the widest possible sense. Platform comes second.
Attempts to blend the two mediums have struggled, but that looks to be changing, why do you think that is?
I think the appeal is that it’s a challenge. The rise of indie gaming over the last decade and the ability to control your deadlines define your approach to IP, and taking bigger risks on format means you can increase the chance of successful projects. When you’ve got a huge budget, fixed dates and companies protective of their brands, innovation can be stifled and you become risk averse. You accept that and get excited that blending media is risky because it’s innovative – if you approach it timidly the chance of failure is high.
What was the greatest moment of your career to date?
The moment that stays with me is the first time my short film played in a cinema. I was at university and had made this awful stop-motion animation. Genuinely terrible. There’s a bit in the middle where a character did a martial arts kata for no reason, it was bad. But at the festival it got huge laughs, there was something magical in that moment, hearing a sold-out cinema laughing at all the bits you wanted them to. I think because that was the first time, it’s stuck with me over the years.
There’s a new wave of gaming platforms coming, do you think they will generate growth in the medium term?
I think there will be growth in the short term, with a high likelihood of a dip in the medium term, as the shopping spree of new platforms comes to an end. What needs to happen for long-term growth is expansion of the consumer base – we can’t just be fighting for smaller slices of the pie. We need to make games accessible for wider audiences. How do we show games can be of value to every demographic and income group, and solve discoverability? I feel like Apple and Nintendo are the only ones that are meaningfully looking at that.
Is the games industry headed in the right direction?
It’s hard to say what ‘right’ is when talking about a consumer-driven industry, but the last few years have shown that games as an art-form have something to contribute. Like any storytelling, they can help us understand ourselves, each other and the world, or just help us feel part of something bigger. In that sense games are headed in the right direction – there’s a desire for excellence in art, to engage thematically, and increasing consciousness around the issues of representation and diversity, in which all media is slowly improving. I think games have a place to explore things like mental health because interactive and user-driven experiences can be powerful for personal stories. I suppose I would say we’re headed in the right direction, in fits and starts!