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IGF Factor 2014: The Stanley Parable

Something archly self-referential

As we continue our way through the interviews with the PC-focused finalists in this year's IGF Awards, we will of course have to include some barely known, minority interest games. So it is today, as we talk to the creators of something called "The Stanley Parable". Probably raising awareness about the dangers of knives, I imagine. Sounds overly worthy.

We spoke to creator Davey Wreden and his cohort William Pugh, about their little project.

RPS: First off, can you introduce yourselves, explain who you are, what you do, and why you do it?

William: I'm William Pugh, I did half of the design work on The Stanley Parable. Sometimes I go outside and wear a hat and glasses and pretend to be somebody else, but most of the time I'm inside working out how to do weird structural things in video games. I dropped out of art school to finish work on The Stanely Parable and when I'm older and have more "life experience" I expect I'll want to go to acting school for a spell. But for the time being I'm interested in making weird things so I'll do this for a while. No commitments! No commitments!

Davey: I'm Davey Wreden, I made the original Stanley Parable mod and did most of the writing on the new version. I actually didn't really know that video games were what I wanted to make, but then when I released the mod a bunch of people liked it and so I figured that maybe I was actually on the right path. That path has shifted and evolved constantly ever since. My devotion to it is some combination of the euphoria of artistic expression, being able to connect to others, and just having something immediately in front of me that just keeps me going, keeps me going, keeps me going.

RPS: Looking back at The Stanley Parable, after it's been eviscerated by a billion articles discussing it, what do you see of it now? What is the game to you now?

Davey: The more that people talk about it the less real it feels. And the reality is that I've thought about the game for thousands of hours more than anyone else, so it's not like most of the critical discourse says anything that really surprises me. So I basically try to tune the conversation out, because the more of it I keep up with the less I remember what the game means to me. I've begun to see that it's the story of my attempt to actually communicate myself to a world that I thought didn't understand me and had abandoned me, but that's one of many things I didn't even see in the game until after we'd released it.

William: It's kind of this big wrecking ball that's left my life in bits and pieces. I don't hate it by any means (I even like to watch a let's play from time to time in an act of perverted nostalgia), but it's become this big messy tangle of events and emotions that I don't understand. In terms of how I spend my time, it's just created a bunch of schedules that I have to keep to in terms of tax business and business business and event industry business. But as Davey loves to harp on about it's a bit rude for people who've enjoyed such success to start winging about their problems so I'll shut up now.

RPS: How has the experience of the last few months influenced your plans for future projects? You're presumably financially in a place to be able to create what you want to create, but does success make this easier?

Davey: Success does not equate to things being easier. And if it does, you should probably change that before you fall flat on your face. Finances might be taken care of for a while, but I'm trying to find new ways to make creative work that continues to scare me.

William: I'm basically making this game about this character called The Dota Dude. He's this angry fat guy who plays Dota 2 alot and he drinks this stuff called Dota Drink to power him up. I'm in talks with Valve at the moment to get them to put him in as a hero with their next update. Here's some concept art:

"Don't be rude to the Dota Dude" is his catch phrase. It's going to be great man. Totally awesome. (If you're concerned about this take solace in the fact that I'm probably joking).

RPS: How do you feel about getting the IGF nomination this year?

William: Davey's really excited about it because it means his life is now validated but I was never really aiming for the awards. I'm all about the cold hard cash. Oh and the BAFTAs. Can we talk about the BAFAs instead? If we win I get a golden face.

Davey: I'm thrilled to be able to share the honor with the many other nominees whose work absolutely blows me away. The awards mean nothing if they don't point to a strong community, and I feel pretty good about this community. (I also wrote a thing about my concerns with GotY awards.)

RPS: Which game would you like to see receiving the Grand Prize?

William: The Stanley Parable because if we don't win we just lost $40,000 of bribe money.

You already own The Stanley Parable, because you bought it from Steam.

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