We wanted a game that was sexier, and had a more media-driven feeling to create an obvious hook to attract players. In a society obsessed with celebrity, the idea that there could be a reality show that broadcasts live, lethal combat game programming around the world just made sense. The game takes a lot of inspiration from movies and TV as is only fitting for a game about a TV network. The story and setting owes a lot to movies like Running Man but we wanted the game to have a certain swagger and style. Internally we used references from movies such as The Losers, Smoking Aces and even Romeo and Juliet to try and get the right pitch of stylish violence and sexy attitude in the game. Beyond that, as the game is set in the very near future we thought about what a media-driven world would look like eight or ten years from now so films like Minority report and Gamer gave us some cues for future tech, augmented reality and so forth. Finally when we were fleshing out the story, we had a central character - John J. Lazar - who is the man behind the whole enterprise. When we were describing him we’d say, ‘Ok, you know Tony Stark from Iron Man? Well he’s a bit like that.’ That helped people to get what we were aiming for there.
Originally we were looking into different game modes in the context of a military themed shooter and we kept thinking, ‘This is cool but why would someone actually do this?’ If you break down the mechanics of a lot of games and try to fit them to what actually happens in a real battle, there’s a big disconnect. This game is actually a game in which you can do all kinds of crazy and interesting things without needing to work in any rationalizations. All games have arbitrary rules whether it’s chess or pro-wrestling so, by acknowledging that out of the gate, we have a lot of creative freedom. We don’t need to explain why you have to press the big red button, it’s just the rules of the game.