EA Criterion designer Richard Franke on zombies, gamers, and “shiny brightly coloured things”

Richard Franke, besides being an all-around gentleman and perfect host, is a 13-year veteran of the game industry. Startopia, NFL Street, Black and Burnout 3: Takedown are just some of the titles that have known the pleasure of having his name in the credits. He’s currently working on an undisclosed project at EA Criterion, on a frigid rock in the North Atlantic known as Great Britain. He was able to take a moment out of igloo construction to answer a few questions:

Thea: Zombies versus Triffids: who wins?

Richard: From what I know of them, Triffids will eat rotting flesh, but Zombies aren’t really interested in vegetarianism, therefore the Triffids win. But I like to think they could live in peaceful harmony in a world free from humans.

Thea: What could games be doing more of?

Richard: Thinking about bottom line quality of controls and user experience. And just taking more pride in themselves in general. Big or small. Hopefully with the public being more picky nowadays the quality level will improve and shovelware will not be seen to be profitable. That sounds a little idealistic in hindsight though.

Thea: How do you see the position of game designer changing over the next five years?

Richard: I think game designers will need to be more in tune with how people in general want to be entertained and not just your stereotypical gamers. ‘Games’ are user experiences nowadays, and need to cast off the stereotypes and lazy expectations of the past. But at the same time not be ashamed to look at the old school games and see that simple mechanics are more relevant than ever.

Thea: It’s come to my attention that you suffer from Bejeweled addiction. Why Bejeweled? Isn’t your life worth more than that, Richard?

Richard: I hate to be pedantic (actually I love it) but I’m a Bejewelled Blitz addict. I just love the combination of quick thinking, bite size gameplay, depth of discovery, elegant simplicity and shiny brightly coloured things. I used to be a snob about Bejewelled when I first saw it but having played Blitz on Facebook I have a lot of respect for Popcap. Peggle is also a masterpiece if you haven’t tried it.

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