Interview: It’s an unfortunate irony that as the tech behind videogames allows for richer, more vibrant game worlds, we spend less time than ever truly admiring them. KAIRO is Richard Perrin’s attempt to slow things down, to shift the focus back onto the journey and not just the destination, to capture some of the magic that has perhaps been pushed aside of late.
How did Kairo come about?
It originally started as a really simple prototype, I took some images of some abstract architecture and thought, ‘I want to make a world I can explore’. From there it evolved out and I decided which things I wanted to draw from. ICO was the game I drew from most. I really wanted a game that had that feeling of wandering around these huge monolithic landscapes, these whole places decaying that once had purpose but you don’t know what that purpose is anymore. At this point though, because of how the game evolved, people tend to compare it to Myst. That’s not intentional, that’s just how the elements came together.
Would it be fair to draw comparisons to games like Proteus and Dear Esther as well?
I think we’re all interested in similar things. We’re all doing it in a slightly different way and we’ve all got a different take. I’m just glad that if people are exploring similar spaces it’s not a problem. It’s not like you’re all competing with each other. Enough people have enough time to play these games that as long as you’ve got your own spin, I think that’s fine.
What is it about games like Kairo that appeals to people?
I like exploring in videogames and one of the things I think is that the developers of AAA games make all these beautiful environments but you don’t see them and the reason you don’t see them is you’re running through them. Your mind is on, ‘who am I shooting here?’ or, ‘what am I doing here?’, ‘how am I getting to the next section?’ It’s a shame because even when these games are at their most beautiful you don’t see it and all you have to do is slow things down and let people actually enjoy what you’ve made.
Is that perhaps why games like Kairo are becoming more popular, because AAA videogames are becoming more and more restrictive?
If you look at the whole market, if you look at Facebook games and mobile games, a lot of people want to play games and the problem is the main games industry is doing the comic book thing of focusing on a tiny chunk of the market and exploiting it and mining it out as best they can and really it’s not appealing to everybody. As soon as you start making games that do different things you’ll find an audience. As long as it’s well made, there’ll be a niche. The advantage indies have is you don’t need that niche to be millions of people, it doesn’t even need to be hundreds of thousands of people. If ten thousand people bought this game, that’s enough for me to carry on making games.