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World of Goo co-creator reveals why he left EA

By: Muhammad Qasim Hassan

  |   December 5th, 2012   |  
Spike TV's 2008 "Video Game Awards" - Arrivals

Electronic Arts (EA) is without any doubt one of the giants in the gaming industry, with the publisher finding an immense amount of success through its renowned franchises over the years.

That, however, has not made the company immune to criticism. Instead, the publisher finds itself getting grilled by analysts on one issue or another.

While EA has been facing external criticism for quite some time now, it has remained pretty much of a mystery what the internal team of the company thinks about it.

That curiosity has been put to rest as the company’s former employee and renowned physics-based puzzle game World of Goo co-creator Ron Carmel recently opened up about the reasons that forced him to leave such a thriving company.

During an interview with killscreendaily at the XOXO Festival recently, the game designer conceded that his creativity was being curbed by his former employer, which he likened to that of a machine or factory.

“The reason I left EA was because it really was a machine,” Carmel said. “There was the designer/producer who came up with the design document–it’s literally this packet of paper that’s 50 pages deep–and it was handed to me.”

Carmel went on to add that he was hardly given an opportunity or space to exercise his own creativity. While he continuously felt that there was a lot that there is could have contributed to the design process since he was an engineer and had the responsibility of implementing the design document, the company neither encouraged nor allowed him to do that, thus compelling him to feel that he was nothing more than a factory worker.

While the game designer came down hard at his former employer, he made it clear that such an environment was not exclusive to EA, but is something that prevails in other big companies as well.

“It’s inevitable that when you’re at a large company, you are a specialized tool,” he said. “That’s kind of how the work gets divided. It’s the exact opposite when you go off and do something independently in a small team.”

It has been months, if not years, since the analysts have been stressing on the need to inject creativity into the gaming industry in order to keep it from crumbling, something that is already in the process since the surge in popularity of smartphones and tablets.

However, companies such as EA and Activision have not shown a lot of interest in deviating from the formula of churning similar content into the market as long as it is selling, since it’s the sales that eventually determine the profitability.

It is believed that the established publishers will show greater amount of creativity once Sony and Microsoft launch their next-generation consoles.