Gears of War writer Tom Bissell on video games and storytelling

I enjoyed reading this extended interview with frequent Grantland contributor Tom Bissell, now a writer on the just released Gears of War: Judgement. Tom’s statement here on why first and third person shooters are so popular was especially interesting:

If combat has any positive attributes, it’s that, for a lot of people, it forms the most intense emotional relationships they will ever have with human beings for the rest of their lives. So I think a shooter, which is what Gears is, can awaken some of those borderline—I don’t want to say positive attributes of combat, but it does touch on some of the exhilaration of combat. I’m not the first person to suggest that, within the horror of combat, there is something beautiful and exhilarating. The reason shooters are so popular, I think, is that we all want to touch that fire. We want to put our hands in just far enough to feel the heat without actually burning ourselves.