Over the past year, Star Wars: Battlefront has boasted one of the most unique marketing campaigns in the video game industry. Electronic Arts has not spent its time attempting to sell the game based on either its features or its gameplay. The monolithic company attacked the campaign with a fresh set of eyes. EA chose to display the inner workings of Battlefront through numerous developer videos and blogs from developer Dice. These videos communicate Dice's enormouslove of Star Wars as well as the immense honor bestowed upon them in developing the next iteration of such a beloved franchise. EA clearly emphasized showing Dice's passion for such a project so that gamers feel secure and confident in the future of Battlefront.
Why does EA need to show how much Dice cares about the franchise? The company is not alone in this need to show a developer's love of a series. Nearly every time a new developer takes over an established franchise such as Square Enix and developer Crystal Dynamics with Tomb Raider, the representatives of these companies deliver relatively similar speeches at shows and in online videos.
However, Media Molecule is one truly unique developer that ignores this strategy where the developer shows the love of their craft. It's strangeness makes them one of the more special developers in the gaming industry. Media Molecule shows its love for making games through its work in development. The games speak for themselves and show the love poured into tedious development, so the Media Molecule's love manifests itself most in little aspects that other developers seem to forget nowadays.
Media Molecule's games always revere one's creativity, especially rough the use of the English language. The British developer's ingenious use of language fosters a variety of approaches to the use of dialogue or text in games, from the purely functional (instructions) to the purely aesthetic (the poetry of Dear Esther) and all the in-between strata of storytelling and communication. Many developers like to use a lighthearted tone to their language like Popcap, for example, or treat any text prompt as a chance for a joke whereas they often miss healthy opportunities for wittiness that really can give a game its soul. Humor is 'cheap' - it's silliness and pop culture references: it works fine in the context of Peggle or Plants vs Zombies, but this humor needs no substantial or critical analysis.
On the other hand, Media Molecule rarely uses lighthearted text to exploit a cheap joke. In fact, the company tends to shy away from jokes altogether in the traditional sense, though certainly the games can be quite humorous despite this approach away from the norm. Each game's text and dialogue celebrates the English language itself. For example, both LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway drudge up interesting and archaic words and make them commonplace in their stories - the Sackboys, for example, are described as "gadding about", and the critters of Tearaway go "wassailling". Likewise, the names of people and places in Tearaway are also drawn from folklore and old-English custom rather than being just plucked from thin air. Just a taste of these names includes mummers, wendigos, the green man, Gibbet hill, St. Swithin's Moor, etc.
The most obvious reason for this resurrection of outdated language is for the sheer aesthetic joy. These words possess a quaintness and whimsical nature, which adds to the tone and develops a humor far more natural and endearing than the crass pop-culture references of PopCap, for instance. Aside from this imaginative strategy to incorporate quirky language in games, Media Molecule's games embody the values the developer aims to promote within its core audience. The company seems to know better than anyone that true creativity is not just making things from scratch, but stitching together the old and new. And this method, after all, is what all tellers of myths do. Media Molecule strikes that perfect balance between timely and timeless, and this sort of attention to detail demonstrates the genuine love that everyone at Media Molecule holds in his or her heart for the craft itself, far more than larger developers like Dice, or publishers like EA and Activision.
In today's industry, the theory that whether or not the creator enjoyed making their craft or not heavily influences the end result of the craft is a testament to the outstanding and unique quality of Media Molecule's games. The idea of creating something lovingly is a real concept, but that idea is much more than claiming in a video that your game was crafted with love simply because you like the property. Development must be a true passion, rarely seen, that really shines brightly in the final creation. Media Molecule's love of what they do has allowed them to forge something special with the English language and with the video game community in a way that most other developers have forgotten how to do.
Media Molecule's next game, Dreams, looks weird and quirky. Not many gamers understand what the game is or tries to achieve, but many gamers surely cannot wait to play it, because the final product will be a labor of love and care not seen in many games today.
If you're as excited for Dreams as I am, let me know on Twitter @johnmsmith15, and while you're at it reach out to Media Molecule @mediamolecule and let them know why they are such a special developer. Follow the site @nerdcavenetwork as well as the YouTube channel Nerd Cave Network.