I've never met Peter Molyneux, but he's always struck me as a nice, well humoured guy. Sometimes he seems a little bit eccentric, but I believe that he's good at asking the right questions. I can't say I always agree with his answers to those questions, but at least he even thinks to ask them in the first place.
I have to say though, 22cans' recently unveiled project, Curiosity, struck me as odd for a long time. Molyneux always talks about emotion in gaming, something that I spend a lot of mental energy on myself, but this didn't seem like it was attempting to be a breakthrough in emotional gaming at all. If anything, the purchasable levels of chisel reminded me of the very worst examples of "Freemium" games.
Recently I wrote about
two of - what I believe are - the most important kinds of experiences you can have in a single-player game. Since writing that, a theory struck me as to what I think 22Cans are trying to do.
This time Molyneux and 22Cans aren't going for an emotional breakthrough, and no matter what's in that box, I doubt it will make that kind of impact on anyone. I've realised that 22cans have instead managed to find a way they can have their cake and eat it too. They've found a way to deliver a directed experience - the content of the box - that is also an experience that will be unique to a single person.
Problem is, most people are only going to ever get to interact with Curiosity's packaging, and tapping on a cube doesn't strike me as a very good game. Is it alright to ask a lot of people to engage in a boring activity so that one person gets to see something exciting? Yeah, probably, because they could always elect not to participate. Though I really do think that 22Cans should have considered having something fun outside of the box as well as inside. What do I know though?
I must admit, I now sincerely hope that when that box gets busted open, the person who sees it doesn't fire up fraps, doesn't share his discovery on YouTube and doesn't fill every forum with screenshots. I dream of a world in which it lives on as a whispered legend, a world in which I go to PAX and I hear a rumour as to what was in there, passed on from a guy who "knows a guy, that knows a guy that went to university with a gal...".
22Cans have a chance here to forge a place in gaming folklore, and to live on forever as a mystery debated at convention centers throughout the land.