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Critical Path project provides introspection and institutional memory to game design

Newly-launched interview archive hosts hours of clips from gaming industry luminaries

By Dave Gilmore

6:46 AM EDT, July 25, 2012

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Aspiring game designers have just been handed the motherlode of thought and wisdom with the Critical Path project, a series of short interviews from virtually every big name in gaming.

Freely hosted online, the elegantly designed interface allows video game fans to sort through clips by tagged topics or interview subject to experience what ultimately amounts to a few hours of footage in a sort of hive mind around the state of gaming and design.

At launch, the site hosts 121 clips ranging in length from 30 seconds to two minutes.

The roster of developers and designers in the archive is already impressive, with more slated to appear as the project grows. Todd Howard ("Skyrim"), Sid Meier ("Civilization"), Will Wright ("The Sims") and Peter Molyneaux ("Fable") are just a few of the notables who have contributed to the archive so far.

The site will be updated with interviews from new developers, as well as revisiting topics with luminaries already represented on the site as the industry evolves.

The interviews themselves harken to an Errol Morris-style documentary format, with simple black background and subjects speaking directly into camera. In fact, the goal is ultimately to take some of the footage and to shape it into a feature-length documentary, though the projected release date for such a film is unknown.

Artifact Studios, the production company behind the Critical Path project, is used to documenting what goes into making games, producing behind-the-scenes footage, commercials and developer diaries for games like "Skyrim," "Just Dance" and "Toy Story 3."

"We're at an amazing point in history where digital entertainment is emerging and changing our culture,” said the documentary's director, David Grabias, whose films and series appear on outlets such as PBS, HBO, and National Geographic.

"We are interested in documenting the minds, thoughts, and inspirations behind the evolving medium to try and translate its meaning today, and potential to be a leading artform tomorrow."

In addition to providing introspection and dialogue to the art of making games, the project may also bring to light the personalities behind such well-loved titles as "Gears of War" and "Halo."

While the lead designers and creators of these games are well-known in the communities that worship them, big-time game designers are still generally unrecognizable to the public at large. By putting such a direct, humanizing focus on the people behind the games, Critical Path could shed more light on the masters of their craft.