Interviews

Duke Nukem Forever: Feminism, fellatio and the funnies

Interview: Randy Pitchford discusses Duke's revival, his thoughts on a sequel and the game's opponents...

Chucklesome delay announcements aside, the fabled path of Duke Nukem Forever into retail has been smoother than ever of late - and it's all thanks to Randy Pitchford and Gearbox software.

Releasing a game that's been in limbo for so long is no lightweight task - and Pitchford fully appreciates the gravity of his responsibility.

He calls the game's release - now coming in June - a "historical" moment for the industry when we sit down to chat, as he reassures us that his team has updated Nukem 3D's polygonal strippers...

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Duke Nukem is doing this '90s revival of tongue-in-cheek humour. Among mumblings of the FPS genre becoming a little stagnant, do you think this is the direction the genre needs to go down?

I don't know. I know this is a lot of fun. Maybe what you're feeling there is that there's been a kind of pacification of our heroes and Duke's kind of like the antidote to that. Honestly, great games are fine. It's like a movie - you can go from watching The Hangover one night and the next night watch Saving Private Ryan and everything's fine.

So you don't think the genre is getting stagnant...

I think that boring, stagnant games are stagnant. I think games that are fun and interesting are fun and interesting. So I wouldn't make a blanket statement like that. I think there's plenty of stuff that we're seeing that's really derivative, but I also think that there are a lot of new and exciting things that are kind of pushing the line a little bit.

Do you think the Call of Duty generation of gamers - who are used to games with a direct path through a linear series of cinematic events - is going to connect with the more old-school, over-the-top gunplay style of Duke Nukem?

I don't know how or why, but Duke's kind of become iconic. He's important to gamer culture and it hasn't happened because of all the great Duke games that have come out because there haven't been any. But he's kind of like gaming's Chuck Norris.

As far as divisiveness is concerned it's like what I said earlier; as long as that experience is great we're gonna love it and have a great time. That doesn't preclude us from wanting other great experiences. Now, you mention Call of Duty - gosh I'd love to live in a world where as many customers that enjoy CoD choose one of my games. That would be amazing. What do they do, 20 million units? Holy crap.

That's my dream, I think that the goal of any entertainer is 'how many people can you reach?' and 'to what extent have you entertained them?' If you can do that then you're winning.

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So how will you approach marketing to get the message across to these newer gamers?

I think you've just got to be honest about it. I think the fact that it is different is a benefit. One of my favourite quotes from Jerry Garcia [lead guitarist, singer and songwriter for the band Grateful Dead, deceased 1995] is - and I'm going to get the quote wrong but the gist of it is - "It's not enough just to be the best at what you do, because there are others doing what you do. What you want is to be the only one that does what you do."

Maybe on a subconscious level, but when Duke was dead I thought "oh my gosh, we are the only people in the world who can save this, we have to commit to it.

I had to decide if it was worth it. It's a huge risk, I had to invest a lot, divert a lot of attention spend a ton of money and focus on that. But Duke is absolutely one of a kind, and there's nothing else like him in the world, and I need him. Like, I don't want to live in a world where Duke doesn't exist. We felt that that when we brought the game to PAX. We were nervous because the game's been a joke in development.

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