The Indian Interview


~ March 2010 ~
When I released yet another spiritual game with The Making Of A Prophet, the backlash
was predictably fierce. But the sentiment wasn't lost on one of my Indian players,
Mr Centurian, who gets to the heart of the matter in this brief interview...

Will Mat Dickie ever jump back into the gaming industry, taking it as a hobby or part-time work? The fans have played Wrestling MPire many times and now since you quit from game development, we are looking to others. But once again, is there any chance of updating or releasing a new wrestling game?
I still can't figure out how I feel about game development. Part of me knows it's over and that I have nothing left to contribute, but the other half of me feels I have a talent for it and that I was born to do it. It's hard to turn my back on something that was my childhood dream - especially now that the art form is taking over the world and will only get bigger. But that's also the problem. Games have become so big and sophisticated now that it's very difficult for an independent to make an impact and stay relevant. The games industry still hasn't settled down the way music and movies have. It's hard for anybody to see their future in it, and I'm tired of gambling my life on those waves. It was fun while it lasted and I don't regret a thing, but it's not what I choose for myself now. The bottom line is I worked very hard and did my very best, but my time in the sun is over. That doesn't have to be a bad thing! It's OK to move on. Your favourite TV show didn't run for 10 years and your favourite wrestler won't be around in 10 years. Why does your favourite game developer have to exist for eternity?

Your games were spectacular and were the first to go into such depth with the career mode. Encore was the best. Wrestling MPire, though new, somehow lacked the gameplay of wrestling. They were like just hitting and hitting the opponents. Can we hope for some new gameplay with better camera angles?
Everybody has their reservations about a revamped game, but I personally felt that Wrestling MPire 2008 was better than everything that came before it in every single way (with the obvious exception of performance). I wouldn't have made it the way it was if that wasn't the case. I'm not sure what you mean about more "hitting"? I'm a wrestling fan and I worked hard to put that at the forefront. Maybe you're talking about elements from the boxing game Reach, which Wrestling MPire 2008 was largely based on. I was happy with a lot of those and was interested in keeping them. That's what got me excited about a new wrestling game in the first place. I'm really not as interested in remaking the games as people think, because that's as good as it gets for me. If anything was left out, it was left out for a reason. People will discover that as they set about customizing the games themselves. They'll have a lot of "Eureka" moments where they realize why I did things a certain way. That was one of the reasons I wanted to go public with the code...

Many people are asking why you're releasing games (and mods) based on religion? And by doing so, can people of other religions (or none like atheists) expect their own game of some sort? Are you willing to make a version for them, or do you only cater for the religions that are true in your opinion and which you have a good knowledge of?
People sometimes read too much into those projects. As I warn in the disclaimers on The Making Of A Prophet, "This is primarily a work of entertainment and does not necessarily reflect my beliefs." These games are works of entertainment and have to convey a message within the constraints of an interactive experience. It's not a suitable forum for me to convey EVERYTHING I believe in. You just get snippets. Half of it I subscribe to, the other half I shoehorn in there to drive the story along and make it work as a game. It makes me laugh when people run around assuming I must be a devout Christian (or a Muslim now). One of my fellow Blitz developers even dismissed me as a "priest" who was "preaching" to the kids I had brainwashed with wrestling. If he had spent more than 5 minutes at the site, he would know that the whole point of The You Testament was that it CHALLENGED orthodox beliefs! It's a shame that sceptics are so opposed to the projects and feel slighted, because the whole point of the games is that they put spiritual principles into a realistic context. The metaphor has something to offer everybody. It's no secret that I have a spiritual side, but I'm not the "religious fanatic" that people have me down as. I guess the weakest links are the easiest to make. I just have a deep understanding of these things and used that knowledge to create a unique piece of work. Nothing more, nothing less...

When you spoke of Christ and Muhammad in Hindu terms, I was really impressed by your knowledge because only few people know about this and even many Hindus don't know because their original holy books (like the Vedas) have lost their glory since they were first written. How did you come to know of this, and who guided you in it? I came to know of it because I live in India, but how do you as a westerner know of this?
Thank you. After 12 months of ill-informed abuse, it's good to receive praise for the efforts I made to connect the world's various cultures! It wasn't easy and I had to work extremely hard to turn these concepts into a coherent gaming experience. I was buried in books for months. It required a sound understanding of the issues at hand, so it was odd when people accused me of getting things wrong and not knowing anything. I'd love to debate with them! People often wonder whether I'm "religious" or not. All I can tell you is that I see the truth in ALL the world's major religions and respect them accordingly. Some people think that makes me VERY religious, others think it doesn't make me religious at all (because I don't subscribe to any one in particular). I've studied them all intently and I honestly don't see the difference between them. The differences are few and trivial, whereas the similarities are plentiful and profound. My take on it is inspired by an Indian guru called Paramahansa Yogananda who dedicated his life to pointing out the similarity between Hinduism and Christianity. Once you "get" that, all of the other belief systems fall into place - including Islam. It's all about putting this physical life into perspective and seeing it for what it is. That's exactly what my games are about, as the characters discover how and why their world was created. As Muhammad remarks in The Making Of A Prophet, "Until you know what life is, you can't hope to live a good one."

Copyright MDickie 2000 - 2010