David Cage: Games should be more than fun, are niche

Fun. Any of the writers here at Nightmare Mode will tell you that we have a serious problem with that word. It could mean anything, and yet it’s often considered the most important metric when judging games. Aside from this, we here at Nightmare Mode are of the belief that games should–on occasion, at least–aim to be more than just “fun.”

In an interview with Develop, David Cage has proven to be like-minded in regards to our philosophy when it comes to the idea of ‘fun.’

“What gets me upset is when people say videogames should just be fun. Fun? What does that even mean?,” he asks. He applauds his latest game for bucking the trend, too. “I’m delighted that Heavy Rain is in no way ‘fun’ in the classic game sense.”

Cage further critiques the industry by saying that “The problem is that everyone’s doing the same thing. This is the industry; racing, shooting, jumping….My thoughts are, what about adults, what about all the people who don’t play because they have no interest in shooting other people. We’re pushing the whole market into a niche.”

This notion goes against the commonly touted belief that video games have become mainstream. Cage doesn’t believe that games, for the most part, have actually become mainstream.  “You’re not mainstream, you’re a niche. You’re a very small niche. You are nothing. Look at Farmville. Look at Wii Fit. They’re both closer to being mainstream.”

I suspect that most people will have major issue with those statements, if only because of how strongly the community pushes against the “casual” market and the industry around it.

via Develop



  1. Eduardo Vaz de Mello


    Although I was expecting a bit more depth on your article I liked very much what you say here.

    And even surprises me a little the way you say it so (hm) ‘carefully’ about the subject, I always had the impression that ok, huge majority aims for the fun factor, but many games (mostly independent or almost there) seems to [want to] achieve more than that.

    Maybe it’s because I’m really a fan of these kinds (loved HR btw) since I was a kid. No-purpose bashing and killing and running never were my things before and now.. I must say I played 80-90% of mainstream games 10 years ago, now not even 20%, you just get tired of seeing same thing all the time – but I guess it’s the same thing with life overall.

    Nice article.

    • Glad you liked it, though this wasn’t really meant to be an article…that’s why it’s labelled as news!

      I would definitely say I own less mainstream games now than I did years ago, for the same reason. They’re very samey when you get down to it.

  2. B.M.

    Really I think “fun” is the wrong word to use. Enjoyable seems to me to be the best metric for judging games. I can have a ton of fun with a game like Kirby, and then equally enjoy L.A. Noire, without equal amounts of fun.
    Also, while it is still very true that “mainstream” games are niche in the grand stream of things, it’s not because of their content, not because they’re not “adult” enough, but rather because the nature of games make them harder for adults to pick up and be interested in. The gaming industry is still very young, only a small portion of the population has grown up with them. For those that haven’t there is a large barrier to entry other than subject matter. It’s simply difficult to make an adult care to learn how to play. Suffice to say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
    Now, as the gaming population ages and (hopefully) matures, more adult themed games will start finding success. It’s already happening in fact; just look at L.A. Noire, Catherine, and Heavy Rain. So sure, right now it’s a small niche, but the industry is still growing up. Just as peoples interests broaden as they age, so too will the games.

    • Enjoyable eh…I lean toward ‘engaging’, though I realize it’s just as nebulous in some ways, at least the word doesn’t undermine the medium at the same time. But you’re right, there is definitely an influx of mature games with mature themes lately, so things are changing. It’s a niche, but a growing niche (hopefully!)

  3. Cosmo

    The main problem is that we still use the word ‘fun’ which is every bit as exact as saying the weather outside is ‘ok’. Fun means different things to different people and that’s where the disassociation happens.

    A better word would be engaging. Think of it this way. You’re in a room with another person which you don’t know and start talking about mundane things… politics, weather, sports. You are talking, but you are not engaged in the conversation. The moment a common passion comes up or a point of debate, we get engaged. We start actually working those brainwaves and deriving pleasure from the activity.

    Same goes for video games. A game is good if it is ‘engaging’ for the player.

    I might be engaged by swinging my Power Sword around in Space Marine and causing immense amounts of havoc, but i can also be engaged the moment i am challenged to survive by breaking outside the rules of the game in Portal.

    Being engaged and thus ‘challenged’ in one way or another is what games should strive for… For those particular moments where we go ‘oh wow’. Sadly, calling this ‘fun’ causes a disfavor to the media as a whole.

    • You read my mind, because ‘engaging’ is EXACTLY the word I prefer over fun! 😀