The brilliant game director Fumito Ueda has given us the beautiful, emotionally-challenging games Shadow of the Colossus and Ico. These are games that are held up as the pinnacle of expression in the medium, the brightest examples we have of art. With his unfinished project The Last Guardian and breakup with Sony, Uedo presents himself as the tortured artist-type.
So what does the auteur of Japanese games want to do next? Speaking with Edge, he announced, “I’d like to make a game on the theme of zombies.” Wait a sec. Zombies? Those slow and staggering symbols of brainless virtual grindhouse? This is like Terrence Malick saying he wants to shoot a film about cute Labrador Retrievers.
This isn’t that unexpected. Ueda has a tradition of deflating his reputation as a creator of high art, such as when he claimed he wanted to make a first-person shooter. Perhaps to play up to the interviewer’s expectations (there are a lot of questions about art and artists), Ueda went on to describe his hypothetical zombie game very elegantly. “With a zombie motif, in terms of AI and motion technology and the operability of the player character, there are many elements that interest me and that are suited to in-game expression. Especially if there is a way to use [zombies] not just as a convenient enemy for the player to shoot at, but in a way that allows me to express a character in a lyrical way. There are always possibilities,” he says.
This may be the first time the terms “zombie” and “motif” have been used in conjunction, the best thing to happen to the zombie genre, and the worst thing to happen to games.