I've been given the opportunity to interview Kim Swift numerous times over the past couple of years... but I just can't bring myself to do it. This is the woman who led the development of Portal! She helped design Left 4 Dead! She's kind of a big deal!
How dare I sit in front of such a woman with a half cocked smile, tape recorder in hand and bumble questions her way? What right have I to stand in the presence of such a brilliant mind? This young woman has helped to define an entire genre of video games and my infinite charm could never compare to hers!
Nor could anything I could ever imagine compare to her latest game, Quantum Conundrum. Which, much like Kim, is both brilliant and charming.
Building upon the lessons learned from the Portal universe, Quantum plays out in a very familiar, yet infinitely more beguiling way. From the first person perspective of a 12 year old boy you'll solve puzzles in Portal-like fashion, but the game is infused with far more style, color and whimsy than is any of Kim's previous work.
I can't help but feel as if Kim is much less Chell and much more the 12 year old child of her latest creation. Much less a hardened lab rat seeking answers and much more a curious creative, still in awe of all the tools and toys at her disposal when making games. One only needs to look at her huge smile to see a woman who probably had way too much fun thinking up Quantum's, "Fluffy Dimension."
In a recent interview with Wired, Kim stated that to her, "All games are toys. " She says, "They allow us to be a kid again." Adding that, “What’s great about games in particular is that it’s a socially acceptable way for adults to imagine.”
And I imagine she has. Everything about Quantum Conundrum feels as if it were genuinely thought up by someone who's mind is a fun factory. A modern day Willy Wonka. Or in this case, Kim Swift.
I can't begin to express how much more like a child I feel when playing Quantum Conundrum, and how much more rewarding it feels to solve puzzles while doing so. In Portal I may have felt satisfaction, but with Quantum there is only a childlike excitement that bursts from my brain and through my ears as I explore Professor Quadwrangle's mansion.
I can only hope that this was Kim's intent, and quite frankly I've no reason to think otherwise. Even if I've only gotten her thoughts second hand, and even if I've only imagined what it's like to gain her insight from afar - I'd like to think that today I understand why Kim Swift makes games, and why they turn out the way that they do.
So Kim, if you're reading this - and I'm a bit scared to think that you might be - maybe we could talk about games sometime? I'd be charmed, I'm sure.