Interviews

Demis Hassabis, part two

Elixir Studios, Evil Genius, secret projects and Hassabis' future plans discussed as our interview concludes

Page 2 of 2

How do you feel about the closure of Elixir now, looking back?

Demis Hassabis: I feel really proud of what we achieved and it was done with the minimum of pain and fuss in the way that the team was treated - everyone was paid in full, for example. We did everything we possibly could really, and left no stone unturned. We tried our best on all the games we produced and had a couple of other games in development that we felt were looking really promising - such as Dreams, which I can't talk about as the IP has been sold to another company.

We felt the publisher could have taken a bit more risk on them, but in the end, decided not to. We probably could have carried on for a few months more, but we couldn't see how the business environment would improve - we could only see it getting worse. I think that's the reason a lot of games companies hit the wall at 100mph, because they do try to go to the very, very end when there's literally nothing left, and everything just implodes.

So have you any plans to set up another games company?

Demis Hassabis: Yes. Basically I'm doing various things at the moment, and currently concentrating on some neuro-science research. I'm looking at doing some experiments at UCL to see how autobiographical memory works in the human mind - which is memory for everyday life events. It's the condition that's covered in the film Memento. It's fascinating because we don't understand very well how the mind supports this memory, which basically constructs who we are.

I'm doing this because my main passion along with games was AI, and I still fervently believe that if we want games to go to the next level, and become emotionally involving, and have broader subject matter, then we're going to need better AI. This would allow us to have better characters, interaction and so on. What better way to look for inspiration than the entity that we know is the best example of intelligence - the human mind.

It's a bit of a leftfield turn for me, but I also promised myself that if I ever got a bit jaded or cynical about the videogames industry, I would take a break and re-invigorate myself before coming back. On the side, I'm getting involved in a lot of things, such as the website Prize Fight, which is run by a couple of friends and I think is a great idea, allowing gamers to make money from making the games they love playing anyway. I'm also working on a more non-traditional game project, which I won't be able to talk about for at least a year, but I'm hopeful it's going to be really interesting.

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