TE: How much do you play now - games like Gears of War, online, that sort of thing?
CB: I've been too busy playing Gears 2 to play Gears 1 online anymore. I played a fair amount of Call of Duty 4, played some Devil May Cry 4 ... Army of Two is solid, good game. Good game.
It's funny though. I'm at the point now where I want to make sure I have a good work/life balance. I'll play Call of Duty 4, but I might not necessarily get all the achievements; I might not get to the next level as far as leveling up in the online experience. I might not beat Army of Two. I'll give it a good five or six hours and be like, "OK, I get the experience. Now I want to check out the latest movie." Or I want to be outside taking my dog out or just experiencing life in general and meeting new people.
One thing I've learned throughout my life ... being tasked with creating new characters and new IP is, you have to have that pool in your head of experience in life to draw from. Gears 1, for example - a trip to London helped me inspire so much of what the architecture was in Gears, and some of the characters being people that I know from my life and work ... not necessarily directly riffing on but also inspired by. And everything that you experience in life is grist for the mill of your creativity. So I think it's good to have a good balance there.
TE: Do you find that to be kind of a problem for the industry, sort of the insular nature of the development community? Folks designing games without a lot of life experience to draw from?
CB: I actually got in a discussion with George Broussard from 3D Realms a few years ago, and he claimed that real life experience doesn't make you a better game designer, and I have always felt that's so not the case. I mean ...
TE: There's an obvious joke there.
CB: I guess there's a reason why there's strip clubs in Duke Nukem. There's a lot of those in Texas. Great buffets as well, I hear. And tater tots and ribs and things like that.
At the same time, man, I love this medium; I think it's the most compelling medium to ever exist in the history of entertainment. To be a good creative, you need to be a well-rounded person. You need to have life experience. You need to have your heart broken. You need to experience loss. You need to raise puppies and have a family eventually and know what it's like to put the top down and drive 120 mph on a beautiful day with the leaves kicking up behind you, with the music playing. Because if you don't know what that's like, how are you going to have a real-life frame of reference to compare it to when you try to bring that level of excitement into your games? I think it's definitely good to live life and be a well-rounded designer.