“Not everything you do is going to be a huge success but the point is that you have to keep pushing yourself and you have to keep trying. You can’t be afraid to fail.”
the gaming scene, but by the time Bozek arrived, the PlayStation had established itself as the dominant force in the industry, easily outstripping Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s Gamecube.
opportunity it presented. “We looked at it and we distilled it down to the pure singing experience. We decided that what it could become was this very, very fun party game for everyone.”
But far from resting on its laurels, the company was keen to break new ground, and Bozek, aged just 26, was the person to make it happen. “I was fortunate enough to be at a place where risk-taking was valued,” she says. “If you’re in a place where risk-taking isn’t valued then it’s difficult to come up with ideas that haven’t been done before.”
At a time when the market was dominated by firstperson shooters and racing simulators – with their onus on cutting-edge graphics and hardcore appeal – the idea of making a game for everybody flew in the face of industry wisdom. But Bozek pushed on. She realised that what people wanted was a game that didn’t look like a game; they wanted to star in their own version of MTV. Dispensing with fancy graphics, the team licensed actual music videos from stars like Beyoncé and Britney Spears, creating something “cool and youthful and aspirational”. They called it Singstar.
By anybody’s standards, though, what Bozek did next represented a step into the unknown. PlayStation’s developers had been tinkering with a piece of software that allowed users to control a game with their voice. Prototypes had been developed and discarded, including a sing-along safari game and a concept called Song Lines, in which a young princess brought a fantasy world to life with her voice. Bozek was put in charge of a small team charged with making the technology work, and immediately set about bringing her particular perspective to bear. “I am pop culture, mass market, I’m very much in between music, games and media,” Bozek explains. She realised that the key element wasn’t the technology itself but the unique
24 THE DREAM FACTORY
In addition, recognising that many people were inhibited by the thought of singing in front of an audience, they packaged the game with two microphones. Instantly, Singstar became about what was going on in your living room rather than what was happening on screen. As the game neared launch in May 2004, Bozek was still nervous. “It was novel, it was different, it was, like, ‘Are people going to want to do this? Are people going to want to sing? I think so!’” she laughs.
The Dream Factory