The long and short of making a game

The question, “How long does it take to make a video game?” might as well be, “How long is a piece of string?” This tricky-to-answer query is in the air because one of the developers behind the critically acclaimed ‘Mirror’s Edge’, 2008’s breathtaking free-running title, has revealed that the title took seven years to create.

Ok, compared to the 10 years it took for James Cameron to get ‘Avatar’ into cinemas, seven years on a game isn’t so bad. But it’s a rare game that makes as much in revenue as‘ Avatar’ did at the box office. The excellent ‘Fable’ took four years to craft and, generally, a top-notch console extravaganza takes from two to four years to complete. But innovation doesn’t have to have a gestation period of nearly a decade. ‘Scribblenauts’, a DS title that allows gamers to draw thousands of nouns and see them come to interactive life, took little more than a year to make – 15 months in all. So in games development, as in so many things in life, length isn’t everything.