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The Interview Song

Gregor Eigner is CEO and founder of Mi’pu’mi Games. In the last 8 years the company grew to 25+ employees. Mi’pu’mi’s latest projects have been the port of HITMAN: HD Trilogy for PS3 and Xbox 360 for Io-Interactive, Anno: Build an Empire for iOS and Android for Ubisoft Blue Byte and a technology partnership with Io-Interactive supporting the new HITMAN. Recently Mipumi started a partnership with Red Bull on the innovative game series Mind Game Challenge.

Gregor studied law and economics and has 15 years of project management experience. He previously worked for Rockstar Games in Vienna and Ubisoft Mainz, former Related Designs on well-known titles such as Max Payne 2 and Anno 1404. Gregor teaches law and production for game developers in Austria and speaks publicly from time to time, e. g. at Quo Vadis, BGF.

What’s wrong with Jonathan Jones?

We don’t think anything is wrong with Jonathan Jones. Actually, the article reflects the journey video games completed in the last 50 years. Games arrived in mainstream media hence new discussions about the medium we love started. Our industry became very diverse, similar to books and movies, games can’t be simply categorized anymore; this fact should be embraced by everyone, not criticized. Our industry offers mainstream entertainment products, comparable to Hollywood blockbusters and arty games located in niches and different genres.

Are there video games you wouldn’t consider art? If so: Aren’t there just two categories in the world – good art and bad art?

Following the logic above, we would consider entertainment products more like a craft than art. Picking up Mr. Jones’ argument that art is considered “… a series of personal visions. A work of art is one person’s reaction to life,” games from smaller teams reflect more the vision and emotion of an individual. As said before, we would not split in good or bad art, but in commercial entertainment products and more nichy art games. Which doesn’t mean that those nichy art games can’t find their commercial audience. In the end, the experience of art is always a subjective perception and it is an individual choice which painting you put up in your living room.

Does the aspect of interactivity & fun make games more or less artistic?

Interaction is the core of our medium, something older media like movies and literature would like to copy. Hence we don’t see a segregation there. In regard to fun, that is also a core element of consuming cultural and artistic experiences hence fun does not exclude art in any medium.

How important is weirdness for art in general and video games in particular?

Art can be appealing or controversial, trigger interesting discussions and hopefully help our society and us as an individual to move forward and evolve. Being weird is one way to fit in the aforementioned categories. It definitely helps to draw attention though. In regard to video games, we tend to forget that the most important part is a good game mechanic. Literally ONE good mechanic, perfectly balanced, is enough to create an excuse for players to spend time in front of a display.

What are some of your favourite strange/avant-garde games?

We are proud to say that the Austrian game developer scene recently published a few very good-looking indie game gems that were also commercially very successful. Broken Rules’ Old Man’s Journey and kunabi brother’s Frost, to name a few. Looking further ahead games like Kentucky Route Zero and old-time classic Monkey Island have been a huge inspiration for The Lion’s Song.

Where are video games today, evolution-wise? What could/should the future of video games look like?

As mentioned before, video games have entered the mainstream market and awareness. The current generation of younger political leaders has grown up playing video games. Mainstream blockbuster TV shows like House of Cards show the US president who actually plays video games. The average age of players worldwide is constantly increasing and we are confronted with the interesting fact that many smartphone players don’t even consider themselves as video game players.

Last week GTA V was announced as the biggest entertainment franchise in history. Therefore, video games are in a good spot at the moment. Similar to other media in the past, we will see more diversification and more categorizations in the future. Moreover, our industry needs to grow up even further and show proud in what we have achieved past the obvious genres the mainstream public thinks we are defined by. Our industry is so much more than ego shooters and sports games.

“Hitman” could also be a slang expression for a “young, highly promiscuous woman,” right?

Our long-term collaboration with Io-Interactive represents a huge milestone in our company history. In addition, you have to admit, the current Agent 47 looks as sexy as ever!

Subversion can be a protagonist in its own right – what are some of the subversive strategies you would like to employ in your next project?

Isn’t being part of the video game industry creating games for a living subversive enough?

Why did you make an almost disappointingly non-weird entity like a beetle Thumper’s hero?

That’s not entirely true, our actual hero is a goose!

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