Interview: Kaos Studios' Tae Kim on Homefront

Tae Kim is a former Field Operations Officer with the CIA and highly valued consultant the New York based Kaos Studios keeps on its payroll these days.

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The American with korean roots helps the US developer to design the main and back story for Homefront, the next big action shooter THQ is planning to publish most probably at then end of 2010. Gamereactor flew over to New York to talk with Tae Kim about his work with Homefront.

Tae Kim, former Field Operations Officier with the CIA and now consulting Kaos Studios in New York.

Tae Kim, I was wondering when I heard you talking about the whole concept behind the Homefront story whether it is a good idea to promote these ideas you promote to the terrorists that could turn them into reality?
A lot of the elements from the game are not something we bring uniquely to it. We have pulled it mostly from public sources. But it is obviously always kind of dangerous to make a package like this available for someone. But it clearly wasn't our intention when we came up with the storyline.

You portrayed the Koreans as being brutal and using a lot of propaganda against the US, but you are at the risk of doing the exact same thing vice versa. Did you think about that controversy?
Yeah, it almost feels like as we are doing propaganda against the North Koreans. This is obviously not our intention. What we were trying to portray is what's known about them today and how they probably will be operating in 20 years time from now. We took it out of the open world and applied it into the game and did not try to generate a controversy from our end.

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I am not an American but if I would be and see the game I would be scared by the scenario. Don't you think it's a little to much for people to play a situation like that?
I think there is that aspect to it, but there has been others game where you deal with the aftereffects of a nucleaur holocaust, where the whole country is destroyed and you are fighting off mutants or against other soldiers...

But Homefront is obviously taking it straight into your garden, the first level even plays in a beautiful backyard with kids yelling...
There you can see the amount of detail that went into all of the game. Personalising everything so the player can feel attached to the surrounding but at the same this is where the backstory comes in. But this is all fiction, just like in the movie Red Dawn that has been a great inspiration. At the end of the day the player is going to buy the game because it's fun, it's intense and for its great first- and multiplayer experience. But yes, there clearly is a fear factor. It's not pretty there in the garden, but it's not our intention to cause fear.

Isn't North Korea sort of the easiest possible target?
When the game was first announced everybody said: Are you sure picking North Korea? China would make sense or Russia, but why the heck North Korea? They might be easy to blame, but it's hard to develop a story with them. At the same time we went to a very rigerous, academic reserach process to make sure to not only look at North Koreas current state but to look at historical examples how things could parallel and turn events. History repeats itself. From today to the day the invasion starts in the game, if you combine everything, the odds are very very slim this becomes true. But when you look at the storyline step by step, every step is a coinflip but a plausible step. So once you get there, it's plausible. And from there the next step is plausible aswell. Eventhough the whole thing is fictonal, it comes with plausible babysteps.

So you want to scare the people...
Not neccesearily. People are gonna get scared and it means we have created a nice piece of fiction.

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Is it the biggest fear of US citizens to be invaded?
I don't think it is a big fear. Personally I don't go to bed thinking that the russians will invade us or somebody from the west or the east will. Only thing I think about then is that the gas prices have gone up.

What kind of a experience was it working on a videogame for a person like you?
It has been a lot of fun, an eye opening experience actually of how much colaboration it takes to make a game like that. It's a very cooperative process and my role is very small, I just give them a different perspective on things. That might be the only time I will be able helping to make a videogame

You could also be some kind of a korean trojan horse?
Haha, I could, that's right.

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