Jonathan Smith Interview

Exeposé 539

We’ve all gone a bit mental about Lego Indiana Jones this issue, as you can probably tell (you don’t see us giving Emergency Mayhem the full-page treatment, that’s for sure). But it is all worth it, as it’s arguably the best platforer since Super Mario Galaxy. And so we wanted to find out a little more about the making of the game, turning to VP of Publishing over at Traveller’s Tales, Jonathan Smith, for the answers.

VIDEOGAMES: What is it that attracted you to making a game based on the Indiana Jones franchise? Are you a big fan of the series?
JONATHAN SMITH: Of course we’re all Indy fans! We grew up seeing his original adventures on the big screen, and it’s a huge thrill to be able to revisit those stories in lego form. Lego games need varied landscapes, lots of action, cool heroes, and great supporting characters. Indy gives us all that, and much more.

V: The Star Wars universe is massive, populated by innumerable characters and worlds. Did you face any difficulty when handling with the comparatively smallerscale Indiana Jones franchise?
JS: Not at all. Indy’s adventures are all on one planet, it’s true; but across three actionfilled movies, he travels to a huge variety of surprising and different places. From Egypt to Shanghai; from India to Arizona; Nepal to Venice; overground and underground, Indy is a relentless traveller.

V: Do you know what George Lucas thinks of the Lego games series? Did he have any direct involvement in their development at all?
JS: We were all very proud to be told that George Lucas enjoyed Lego Star Wars. 

V: The Lego games are generally regarded as some of the best “children’s” games around. Do you approach development with a specific audience in mind? Do you think there’s a specific formula in making good games for a younger audience?
JS: We certainly make a special effort to make our games accessible to the widest possible audience, including young players. There are some basic rules there – but it mostly comes from experience and instinct now.

V: The series seems to take a particularly comical, light-hearted approach to on-screen violence. Do you have any personal opinion regarding violent content in videogames (particularly after the publication of the Byron Review)?
JS: In-game context makes a huge amount of difference, and I fully support ratings as a key tool to help people make informed choices about game content.

V: Are there any games or companies working at the moment which you have particular respect for?
JS: Nintendo are the masters, obviously – but there’s lots of other great work being produced across the world. And we’re particularly lucky to have a lot of very strong teams here in the UK.

V: In what direction do you see the industry moving towards at the moment? Where do you think it will be in 10 years time?
JS: More and more people have grown up playing videogames; more and more people are able to enjoy playing games with more and more of their family members, both younger and older. Gaming brings people together.

V: We’re all looking forward to Lego Batman, but do you have any plans for future Lego-branded games? Is there any chance of seeing other Lego movie licenses like Jurassic Park or Spider-Man being given the Traveller’s Tales treatment?
JS: We’re very excited about Lego Batman – and, yes, we do have plans for future Lego games. I can’t reveal them at the moment – but I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

 V: Jonathan, thank you.

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