Developers pay tribute to Bradbury at E3
If there's one place where Ray Bradbury's legacy is tangibly omnipresent, it's the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
While he denounced video games as "a waste of time for men with nothing else to do," it's impossible not to glimpse at the flashing flatscreens, ubiquitous cameras and people wearing extraterrestrial costumes inside the Los Angeles Convention Center this week and not be reminded of Bradbury's high-tech foreshadowing and otherworldly visions, detailed in literary classics like Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Martian Chronicles.
"I definitely read his books when I was a kid," said Peter Molyneux, creator of the role-playing Fable series and studio head at developer 22 Cans. "I think with those worlds that he created, he inspired all of us. There are games and scenes in this very hall which have probably been influenced by him - both consciously and unconsciously."
Bradbury, who died Tuesday night at age 91, foretold of much of the technology powering the gaming industry's annual trade show and inspired many of the games' storylines being hyped at E3: cut-throat capitalism, interactive TVs, intergalactic affairs, handheld doodads and clandestine conspiracy theories, just to name a few.
The Martian Chronicles was just "mind-blowing at the time," said Adrian Chmielarz - creative director at Gears of War: Judgment developer People Can Fly - of Bradbury's short story collection about telepathic aliens. "The way (game developers') brains work, we read everything - anime, comic books, everything - and hope that someday our work will result in similar greatness."
Corey May, writer of Ubisoft Entertainment's Assassin's Creed series, cited Bradbury as one of the inspirations for the time-bending, stealthy series. The third instalment of the franchise is set amid the American Revolution.
"His influence his undeniable," said May. "I would credit him with getting me interested in a dystopian future and the idea that you could project ideas forward and play with them in writing. Obviously, it's something we've been doing a little bit of with what we're working on with Assassin's Creed III."
While some designers in attendance at E3 were not fans of Bradbury or familiar with his work, those that were seemed certain he indirectly affected the entire gaming industry.