Tuned In

Lyst: Cuse and Lindelof on Lost and Videogames

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It occurred to me after I posted my rambling last week about the similarities between Lost and the computer game Myst that I actually brought that up in an interview with Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof last fall, and that I should go back and ransack my recording. Here are the producers on how the look and structure of the show reflected those of games:

Lindelof: We have a lot of gamers on the writing staff. They still game; Carlton and I don’t have the luxury of time anymore. For me certainly, the big game-changer was Myst. There’s a lot of that feeling in Lost. What made it so compelling was also what made it so challenging. No one told you what the rules were. You just had to walk around and explore these environments and gradually a story was told. And Lost is the same way. The problem on Lost has always been, no one has told the characters what to do. If you’re on Grey’s Anatomy, every episode starts out with a patient coming in–you know what you have to do. If you’re on a cop show, your lieutenant calls you into his office and tells you what you have to do; in a law show, your client comes in. On Lost, our characters would be sitting around on a beach if we didn’t create stories for them, and [like Lost] videogames don’t have “franchises” unless you’re a spy or something. Grand Theft Auto is the same way. It’s more about the exploration of the environment than a self-contained conflict.

Cuse: We also felt that since Lost was violating a lot of rules of traditional television storytelling, including having a large and sprawling cast and having very complex storytelling, we felt that videogames were one model that showed that if audiences get invested, they love complexity. In fact, the more complexity the better, and the challenge of that complexity was an asset as opposed to a liability. Those are the games that people actually respect, you know?

On the producers’ and fans’ use of the gaming term Easter egg, and how these hidden clues and allusions can lead fans to think production errors are clues:

Lindelof: We’ve all been that person who spots the gaffe, and we can’t blame our audience, because we’ve trained them to dissect the show by hiding these Easter eggs. And whenever you send a kid on an Easter egg hunt, they’re going to find an Easter egg you didn’t hide.

The holiday season is approaching, by the way, so as a Tuned In public service: If your child comes back from an Easter egg hunt with an “egg” you didn’t hide, do not let him eat it. Especially if it’s chocolate.