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Archive for February, 2000

Talk City: Frank Spotnitz Online Chat

Talk City
Frank Spotnitz Online Chat

Hello and welcome to the live chat with — Frank Spotnitz, — the Executive Producer of “The X-Files” and the President of Ten Thirteen Productions. Hopefully you will have all seen last night’s episode, “Sein Und Zeit,” and will have plenty of questions for Frank about these two-part mythology episodes, as well as the direction “The X-Files” is headed this year. I know you are all eager to talk directly to one of the show’s writers, so let’s get to it. Please welcome — Frank Spotnitz

XFILEKATE: What was it like to make the 150th episode? Did it feel like a milestone, or just another hard day at work?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: It’s a little unreal to think about having done 150 episodes. On the other hand, just when I stop to think about it, I have to get right back to work.

ADAMRS: Is Chris Carter creating the Lone Gunmen series, or are you developing the series too?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: It’s the four of us together that are creating the series. The characters were originated by Glen Morgan, and James Wong.

LAURACAP: When you and Chris Carter co-write an episode, how do you decide who will write what and do you have any preferences as to the type of scene you like to write?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: It’s never that organized! What usually happens is Chris and I discuss the story concept, then I go off and develop it more specifically. Then we split up the acts, or oftentimes I haven’t finished the story in time to even start writing, so he’ll be writing while I’m working out the rest of the story. But his is always the final typewriter.

LAURACAP: Have you personally made any plot decisions you’ve regretted in hindsight?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: No, I’m happy to say I have not. In fact, I’ve been amazed at how plot decisions from early seasons have borne fruit years later, in ways we never would have anticipated.

ADAMRS: Will the final episode be multiparted or a single episode? If this is the last season…

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I won’t know until I know if this IS the last season. I would imagine whenever the end comes, it will be hard to conclude in a single hour.

LAURACAP: What aspect of your Executive Producer job gives you the greatest satisfaction?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Hmm. I always say my favorite part of the job is going to the house of the composer, Mark Snow. That’s because the show gets so much better, and all I have to do is sit and listen 🙂 I enjoy so many parts of my job I get great satisfaction from working with the writers, to help them develop their stories. But the best feeling is when I watch it on the air, and feel it’s turned out well. And I always do watch it on the air, even if I’ve seen it 100 times, because seeing it broadcast is like watching an opening night.

LAURACAP: “When “The X-Files” is over, what do you think will be your fondest memory?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Wow! There are so many things that I will remember fondly about doing the show. I can say already that fortunately the good memories last longer than the painful ones. But I guess the true pleasure, if there is such a thing, will be in watching shows years from now and still being proud of the work.

ADAMRS: Will Scully’s religion and spirituality be explored further after such episodes as “Orison” and “Amor Fati?”

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Do you want it to be explored further? I feel we have mined Scully’s Catholicism quite a lot. You’ll see Scully’s belief system examined in a way unlike any we’ve done before.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The question to this answer was lost. However, FS provides some nice insight to the television-making process — NLYNN

FRANK SPOTNITZ: … because you have to have a new episode every 8 business days, or this big machine shuts down. So there’s always a challenge, and the storytelling process is so complicated you can never master it. So, in that sense, you usually feel that you’re falling a little short. But that’s a good thing, because it keeps you working hard.

CLARISSE: I want to believe that the answers to all Mulder’s questions about what happened to Sam are going to be revealed next week. Are they going to resolve the previous appearances of Sam (the bee colony clones, the grown up Sam who appears with CSM) are will that just be left “out there”?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: As anyone who has watched this show knows, information comes out slowly. Having said that, a lot of the important questions about Samantha will truly be answered next week. But, as is so often the case, it’s usually more interesting to ask questions than to answer them.

PATSANDIEGO: It seems Samantha would have much insights to the Aliens. Is there a chance of her becoming a more visible character?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Wait till next week!

LAURACAP: What types of shows is Ten Thirteen now looking to develop?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: We are going to do a spin-off of The X-Files, featuring the Lone Gunman. Hopefully, that will keep us busy for a while, or at least longer than Harsh Realm did.

ISAUO: I am confused as to what happened to the adult version of Mulder’s sister. Last we heard she didn’t know if she wanted contact with Mulder. And now in last night’s show we are again wondering where she is. Can you explain that a bit?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: How can you be sure? How do you know that adult really was his sister? It may well be that was just another clone using Samantha’s genetic material. Again, wait until next week 🙂

KRYCEKSARM_2: Do you have big plans for Mulder and Scully’s personal relationship?


AMY: Scully was a little harsher than usual in last nights episode, she wasn’t as compassionate towards Mulder as she usually is, do you have any insight as to why that is and if it will continue next week?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I didn’t see it that way, although I can see why some viewers might. I thought Scully’s anger stemmed from the fact that Mulder was involving murder suspects in what she saw as a theory, colored by his own emotions.

AGENTFISHGIRL: Why are Mulder and Scully acting so strangely toward one another lately?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I don’t know! LOL. They kissed on New Year’s Eve – I thought that was a good sign!

TINA670: It doesn’t make sense in “Sein Und Zeit” that Mulder suddenly believes that his sister wasn’t abducted by aliens after having it confirmed by WMM in FTF, Cassandra Spender in “Two Fathers” and CSM in “One Son.” For what reason would he suddenly change his mind?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Mulder doesn’t know what to think or believe. In the scene you’re talking about, he’s trying to make sense of his mother’s death and what she was trying to say.

MIKE_X: When you are writing an episode do you ever consult the main characters for insight or input into the script?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Yes, although almost always after the first draft has been written. We are blessed with very bright perceptive actors who invariably make our scripts better.

JAMIERUBY: The episode’s mythology is very different. Is it going to still have a connection with the colonists/hybrids?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Wait till next week!

HOT_TODDY: Assuming that there is no season 8, do you think that there is enough time left to wrap up the mytharc in a full and satisfying manner? Including any future movies, of course…

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I hope so! LOL one thing I have noticed is that everybody who follows the show closely has a completely different set of burning questions that we MUST answer before it’s too late. I know we’re going to piss off someone! We’re probably going to piss off a lot of people. But I think when the end comes, we will have answered all of the most important questions and probably raised some new ones.

MOX: Is there a particular character you want to bring back before the series’ end?


IKKLEOSU: Do you ever worry when pitching a story that it sounds a tad cheesy when described, but you know it’s brilliant in your head? 🙂 it’s the dilemma some fans face in describing eps to non-fans .

FRANK SPOTNITZ: LOLOL!! Usually I think it’s brilliant, and other people tell me it’s cheesy.

GWOMANSTAR: How do you write the episodes? Do you always write them in screenplay format?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Yes, we do. We have a very specific neurotic format that we adhere to. We find that being extremely controlling in this way somehow gives us a higher degree of success.

TRUBLUE: For as much as Fox Mulder says to “trust no one,” he is often credulous of everyone, even those he shouldn’t be. How do you balance both aspects of his nature so believably?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: David Duchovny helps a lot, because he gives reality to whatever is written. Beyond that, I think we have so internalized Mulder’s character that we don’t need to think about it consciously very often. We just have a sense of what sounds like him, and what doesn’t.

BROCK: Would you ever consider doing a prequel to the X-files in a motion picture say centering it around Fox’s father and his early X-files experiences?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Do you have any financing?

DKS916: Are you happy with the way the show is progressing?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Yes. I think we do a good job of not repeating ourselves, and I am frequently amazed at what a versatile framework the X-Files is for storytelling. There are so many different types of stories we tell, and for us, the characters never seem to get old.

MELISSA: Is there any other stand alone episodes that you would like to do a follow up episode on (like Orison)?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: There are characters from past episodes I would love to revisit, because I loved those characters so much. But it’s very hard to even come close to the first time, both because you’re probably already said everything fundamental about that character the first time around and because nostalgia inevitably taints your second attempt.

LORI925: I especially enjoyed the spiritual exploration of both characters in “Signs and Wonders.” Will there be more of this character development?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Yes, but without snakes!

HENRY: Frank, about Diana Fowley. Her character seemed disappointing because she seemed nothing more than an obstacle in the M/S relationship. Were you hoping for more?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I thought Diana was deliciously threatening and the turns she took from appearing to be nothing more than Scully’s rival to being CSM’s ally, to finally betraying CSM, were interesting. I know a lot of people hate her character, but I think a lot of that is because they love Scully. I’m always interested to watch how opinion changes over time. When I joined the show, nearly 6 years ago, everyone hated X and wanted us to bring back Deep Throat. Now, more people know who X was, than Deep Throat so I’ll be curious to see what people think of Diana in a few years’ time.

CAROJC: Any plans to bring back Mrs. Scully or any of the Scully family this season?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I would love to bring back Mrs. Scully, and even another hated character, Bill Scully, but there are no plans of yet.

WATCHER: The Smoking Man’s role seems diminished. Will he become more prominent ? Will we see a clear connection between him and Mulder’s mother?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: That depends on whether this is the last year.

CHARLES: Do you use story lines submitted from other people?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: No. We only accept submissions that come from agents, and we never read fan fiction because our lawyers tell us not to. We’ve had a few outside writers, most famously William Gibson, who has another episode at the end of this month.

FOXYTIME: Will you be writing any episodes on your own this season?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I doubt it. I find it is nearly impossible to make time to write alone. And whenever I have done it in the past few years, I have suffered so much in trying to complete my other duties, that I found it’s not worth it.

LILSCULLY2: Do you feel your writers have the energy and freshness to produce new material as good as last night’s IF the show continues for another season?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: God, I hope so!

GUEST-RZD: How important is the post-episode fan reaction to you? Does it EVER help?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I used to log on religiously when the mythology was developing to see what was understood and what was misunderstood. Now, people know a lot more than they think they do, and I rarely get anything constructive out of it. So as a result, I do it much less often.

DOJO: Any plans on doing episodes that take place in the past?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: We’re open to that. The problem has been that time travel is a very well worn science fiction idea, and we have not yet found something fresh to do with it.

MOMSHERE: Will you guys respond to fan pressure to put Mulder and Scully together romantically?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Never!! Over my dead body!! (Which doesn’t mean it won’t happen)

FOXPHILE: Can we expect to see more of AD Skinner and Krycek regarding their strange tie?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I don’t know what tie you’re referring to, other than the fact that Skinner hates Krycek, but I would hope you would see more of both these characters. But again, if this is the last season, we only have a few more episodes to go.

BROCK: If this isn’t the last year of the show, is there any chance we could see The Smoking Man get waxed?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I’d say that’s an occupational hazard. Keep watching.

FANNIN: Hi Mr. Spotnitz, thank you for the best seven years of television. Can you tell us if there will be anything on Gibson towards the end of this season?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: It’s entirely possible. He’s one of those characters I was referring to earlier, the ones I’d like to bring back. I don’t mean to be evasive, but so much depends on whether this is the last year.

SAULTOPAUL: I don’t think I have ever seen Skinner move as fast as he did in Sein Und Zeit….Can we expect to see him out in the field more??

FRANK SPOTNITZ: How come he still couldn’t outrun the fat guy? Just kidding 😉

AGENTDANASCULLY: Do you think there is any chance of Harsh Realm being put back on the air?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Never say never! The show will get a full airing on FX starting March 24th. All 9 episodes, including 6 that were never broadcast. It would be a Herculean task to reassemble the cast and crew, but you never know…

CHANCE_171: Do you think that anything that happens in the show could possibly be true?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I was once approached by a fan late in the third season who asked me when we were going to run out of true stories!! A lot of the things we write are based on real science and even more are based on actual mythology. So I think there is usually some basis in reality for our stories.

ZOLA: If this is indeed the last season of the X-Files, what do you think the atmosphere will be like on the set that final week?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I think it will be very emotional and bittersweet. I think everyone who’s been with the show has loved working on it. But when the time comes, I know they will all be excited about the opportunities facing them ahead.

MYSTY: When will there be a decision reached about the fate of the show and the last season?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I wish I knew! No-one is asking me. It’s entirely a question of negotiating new contracts with Chris Carter and David Duchovny.

JAX-GUEST: What do you guys have planned for the February sweeps episodes?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: This Sunday is the conclusion of the two-part episode in which we really, truly, honest-to-God find out what happened to Samantha. Then, there’s an episode written by Vince Gilligan that is shot exactly in the style of the Cops TV show and finally, there is an extremely visual science fiction episode written by William Gibson and Tom Maddox, directed by Chris Carter.

BACKITUP17: Do u ever sit back in amazement that you are one of the leading people of the x-files, one of the most popular shows on television?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I am??? I’m often amazed by myself, but rarely for that reason 🙂 No-one I know treats me like I’m one of the leading people on one of the most popular shows on television, although I wish they would!!

LILSCULLY2: Without giving any specific details, how would you like the series to end? I hope it’s not a Newhart ending where Mulder wakes up and the whole series was a dream!

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Darn!! I have some very specific ideas, as you might imagine, as does Chris Carter, who thought about the ending of the TV series when he created it so long ago. But I think the catch phrase of the show, ‘The truth is out there’, will mean a lot in its conclusion.

MATT: How do you keep track of the mythology, and not contradict yourself? How much was planned from the beginning?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Some people think we DO contradict ourselves, although really we don’t; it’s just that it’s all so complicated that you’d have to devote your life to studying it as I have.

LALA: Which of the two characters, Mulder or Scully, that you feel closer to, or more supportive for?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: When I joined the show, I was a Scully in temperament and outlook. But I have become much more like Mulder. I think the beauty of these characters, and indeed of this series, is that you need both characters to get a complete view of the world. In a lot of ways, Mulder and Scully together make one whole person. And so, I’m not exaggerating when I say that I love both of them.

MFLUDER: Who came up with the idea for “The Amazing Maleeni”?? I love that one!!

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Thank you. I had wanted to do a magic show all by myself, starring Ricky Jay, for years, and this is what I was talking about earlier – I couldn’t possibly do it by myself, and we needed a script. So John, Vince, and I scrambled to develop the story together, and wrote it amazingly fast. We were desperate to get Ricky Jay, and begged him for weeks before he finally agreed. As far as we’re concerned, that’s what made the episode. But we liked it too.

DJXMAN982: What inside secrets can you reveal to these audiences about the shows plot twists involving the alien invasions?


T-PREECE: What are your plans if xfiles ends?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: I hope The Lone Gunman TV series will be a massive success that writes itself and requires no effort on my part. Even if it does require some work, I hope to do that show and continue to develop movies and new TV series with Chris Carter.

GUEST-REALITY: What is it like to work on one of the most loved series ever made?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Believe it or not, you rarely feel that love on a daily basis. It’s like a lot of jobs – it’s a great way to make a living, I like the people I work with very much, but most of the time, all I see are the problems that need to be overcome if the show is to be any good. It’s only at moments like this, where I get to pause and enjoy the fact that other people enjoy the work.

QUESTION: Do u like resolution in story lines??

FRANK SPOTNITZ: LOLOL!!!! That’s a very subtly worded question, I think! Yes, I do, but I think it’s important to answer the important questions, and only those questions so the viewer has something to think about after the show is over.

RDYFRDE: Is the season finale going to lead to the movie or will the movie be a self contained plot?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: If there is another movie, it will in some way be connected to the end of the television series. But I think both Chris and I would love to do a stand-alone movie not connected to the show’s mythology.

GUEST-RZD: How many episode of the year do you have left to film? How many left to write?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: We are about to start shooting episode 16, and we’ll be doing 22 this year. Right now, we’re working on the story for episode 19.

GUEST-RZD: have production difficulties or expense ever prevented you from doing something special? any regrets along that line?

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Frequently! It’s a constant balancing act, trying to be as ambitious as possible and still deliver the show for a price. It’s become much more difficult since we moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles, but we’ve tried to disguise that as best as possible.

FRANK SPOTNITZ: Thank you all for the great questions.

FOX Well that about wraps it up. Thank you to — Frank Spotnitz — for providing some insight into THE X-FILES as well as giving the fans a direct link to one of the minds behind the show.

DailyRadar.com: Mulder and Scully Go FPS: Tom Maddox Interview

Mulder and Scully Go FPS: Tom Maddox Interview

A few weeks back, we ran a picture of Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) in a very non-X-Files looking suit of armor, firing a big ass rifle. After a smidgen of investigative work (we went to Fox’s press site), we turned up this brief plot synopsis for a new episode of The X-Files slated for Feb. 27: “While investigating the murder of a teen killed while playing a virtual reality game, Agents Scully and Mulder enter a high-tech virtual game to track down their suspect in ‘First Person Shooter’.”

Even though we found that this episode was directed by Chris Carter and written by sci-fi authors William “cyberspace” Gibson and Tom Maddox (who teamed up to write the “Killswitch” episode a few seasons ago), we felt some initial trepidation. Video games and violence have had a major negative buzz in the media since the Columbine shootings last year, and Hollywood is notorious for its poor representations of games. Don’t believe us? Trying sitting through Double Dragon, Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat 2 without wishing to be struck blind. No movie or TV show has done justice to video games since Tron, and that was a mighty long time ago.

Since an X-Files episode about first-person shooters manages to hit two of Daily Radar’s main geek buttons at once, we decided to track down one of the scribes responsible. We were most concerned that Gibson (a notorious low-techie, despite his cool sci-fi stylings) and Maddox were not gamers and would go over the top in their vision of what shooters are actually like. Fortunately, Tom Maddox seemed much more together than we could have even hoped as we found when we spoke to him about the X-Files, video games and parental responsibilities.

Daily Radar: Can you expand a bit on the story for us?

Tom Maddox: Without tipping off the whole deal, The X-Files twist is that it’s a virtual game with real violence. It’s a gaming environment that would be impossible to do now — but it would be so cool if you could — a combination of VR, paintball and FPS games. So it’s a totally immersive environment in which you’re suited up, and you go into it. The VR overlay is such that when you go into the game, it’s like you inhabit it. In other words, you’re in the gaming environment.

DR: So they’re not getting sucked into a computer a la Tron.

TM: No, no, nothing like that. This all takes place at the First Person Shooter corporate HQ, where they are in the end stages of the development of the game. The idea is that this is something that would be installed in malls all over the world.

DR: Sort of like Laser Tag?

TM: Sort of, except much more compelling. You experience it as intensely real, more like the experience of something like Doom or Quake, where you’re being attacked by these other forces, and you can be killed. In the teaser, the QA team is in there doing one of the final run-throughs of the game and something goes horribly awry.

DR: It’s always the QA guys, isn’t it?

TM: Yeah (laughs). The Lone Gunmen are involved with the company and that’s how Mulder and Scully get called in.

DR: Did you put the FPS company in Texas?

TM: I can’t remember where it ended up (laughs). That’s the kind of thing that you don’t pay attention to in revisions.

DR: I only ask because Texas is the center of FPS development in the US.

TM: Oh, I know and I was going to put them (the company in the show) in a penthouse and all that, but a lot of the rewrites had to do with making the episode cheap enough to film. The way Gibson and I first had it set up, the production values would have been expensive. They still spent more money on this episode than on anything else they’ve done since they came back to LA.

DR: So this is now your second episode. The first one was also collaboration with William Gibson. Are you guys longtime buddies or did you meet through agents?

TM: No, we’re longtime buddies. In fact, if you look at the back of Neuromancer, you’ll see I’m mentioned there as the inventor of ICE. We’d been looking for something to do collaboratively for a long time. Bill likes to collaborate; he’s done a novel with Bruce Sterling and several short stories (with other writers). A few years back — I’m not sure what season the X-Files was in — we were talking on the phone one night and we said, “You know, it would be fun to write an episode for these guys.” Bill lives in Vancouver, and they were still shooting there, so he called up and got himself invited down there to the set, met Chris and said, “A pal of mine and I would like to talk to you about doing a show.” And I think, although I wouldn’t swear to this, that we’re the only nonstaff writers to do two episodes of the show.

DR: Going forward, do you see yourselves pitching another episode?

TM: Well that depends if there’s going to be another season. Bill and I were really excited about the possibility of writing something for Harsh Realm, and we were really bummed, as were Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, when it was cancelled prematurely — the folks at Ten Thirteen Productions were so furious over what Fox did. But we’ve left it open with those guys, and we’re waiting to see what they come up with later this year. The big decision is whether there will be an eighth season of the X-Files, and if so, with whom.

DR: What have you published prior to this? I know you’ve done a science fiction novel and some other short stories.

I have published one science fiction novel, called Halo, and I have another that’s grossly overdue to the publisher. I’ve also written stories that were mostly published in Omni and Asmiov’s and anthologized here and there. I wrote a story called “Snake Eyes” that was in Mirrorshades, the cyberpunk anthology. I’ve been longterm friends with Bill and Bruce Sterling and those guys.

Halo. As a matter of fact, Halo is online. It was published by Tor Books, and it’s out of print; if I can ever get the new book to them, they’ll almost certainly republish it. Go to www.privacyplace.com and look under “About Us” and that will take you to the complete text of the book as well as some short stories of mine.

And speaking of Privacy Place, that’s my day job now. I’m the editor. We’re an exclusively online magazine that does news, opinion and info about personal privacy, online and off. We’re not a policy organization; we’re a magazine. In addition to taking positions, we have some great people writing for us and we aim to amuse and enlighten. Simpson Garfinkle, Mike Godwin, RU Sirius, George Smith, Paranoid Paul …

DR: We heard that this is one of the most expensive episodes of X-Files this season and in recent memory because of the amount of CG involved.

TM: Yeah. They also did some fabulous second unit work for the action scenes. Rob Bowman, who directed the feature (The X-Files movie), as well as our first one, did the second unit stuff, which was very cute since you usually don’t get someone like Rob to do second unit work. And Chris Carter is directing, which is great. We feel like we really got good treatment from them, and the dailies that I’ve seen have rocked. We probably won’t see the actual episode until it airs, because they usually work on them until the last minute, and the amount of CG work was really intense. We’re confident that it’s going to look very fabulous.

There’s a lot of violence and some very sexy stuff, but it’s really about violence and its connection to sex, and it’s about males and females in their relation to these games and the testosterone-driven culture of gaming. We don’t have a message; if we had a message, we would have sent it Western Union. But we did have some things that we wanted to say in the process of doing this very action-filled, interesting episode of the X-Files.

DR: A lot of times, when Hollywood attempts to portray the video game world, they don’t really get it right, but it sounds like you guys are familiar with what’s going on in the world of current gaming.

TM: Yeah, I think so. While I’m not a gamer myself, my son, who is a SysAdmin at BeOS, has been a gamer since he was young, so I see an awful lot of it, and I know what the games are like. Undoubtedly, the gaming people and some of the computer people will have some squawks over what’s possible and what’s not and what’s fair, but the truth is that it’s all got to be shaped into a TV episode. Just like creating a game, the code’s got to be written, and you need an interface that works. The same thing applies here. You have an outline, you have a script and all these ideas you want to do, but, ultimately, it has to become TV.

DR: And it has to get on the air.

TM: And the guys at X-Files have a very firm sense of what they do and do not want to do, and if you don’t want to play ball with that, you shouldn’t write for them. They have treated us very well, they’re very smart guys, they do great work, and we don’t have to agree with all their decisions, but it’s their show, and they spent millions of dollars making this episode.

DR: So you’re not a serious gamer yourself?

TM: No, but I have played games. Neither Bill nor I are serious gamers; we’re too old. You know, we went through our adolescence before all this happened. The closest thing to (video games) in our youth was pinball, which I could play endlessly. I understand the thrill of gaming, however; I completely get it, and Bill does too.

DR: One of the things that concerns the gaming community is the way Hollywood portrays the gaming community.

TM: Oh, I know. You all are obviously responsible for all the shootings (laughs). Basically, I think what you’ll find in this episode is that we have different characters speaking to different sides of the issue. You’ll find that Scully just says, “What the hell is this? The world is a violent enough place, why multiply the violence?” And Mulder says, “Ah come on. It’s a game, and boys like to play games; don’t get tied in a knot about it.” Which seems to me to be true to both of their characters. We didn’t want to demonize the gaming community or games, but at the same time, we had to acknowledge that most of the world views the obsessiveness and violence of games as silly and vaguely alarming in some non-specific way. We’re not trying to send a message, we’re trying to use the whole social situation to make an X-Files episode.

DR: So there’s not a lot of finger pointing then?

TM: Gamers are very sensitive at this point, due to being slandered in the press for the last year or two, so I can’t predict how they’ll react to this episode. We’re trying to use this whole thing, not to exploit it, not to point fingers, but to make drama.

DR: What are your feelings regarding violence in the media and the way games and TV influence kids?

TM: People often perceive as causes things that are, in fact, effects. Take someone like Dylan Klebold. His obsession with violence and his ultimate violent behavior was not caused by violent media and games, but he could manifest his obsession with violence through those things. So it’s not causal as to whether a world entirely without violence would be a less violent world. I believe strongly that working things out in your imagination and having a fictive space where you can do things that you can’t do in the real world is helpful, not harmful. I believe that most of the people who take offense to violent games are censors at heart.

The one qualm that I would have there is that I believe that there are probably developmental issues for young children. There’s a lot of age-appropriate stuff in the world; I don’t want to watch the Teletubbies, and your average three-year-old doesn’t want to watch the X-Files. Parents have to take responsibility for what’s developmentally appropriate for their children and make their own decisions. But I don’t think it’s the responsibility of the world to provide a developmentally appropriate setting. The world is not child-safe (laughs).

Games need to seen in the context of a child’s entire life. I felt confident when my son began playing games that there was nothing wrong. I can imagine that having a child who was disturbed in some way or prone to fear and anxiety, I would think differently about the choices I would make as a parent. Just as I don’t think that it hurts children to see nude people or hear dirty jokes, 99% of the time it simply doesn’t hurt them to play violent video games. Obsessions with violence are not great, but there is a difference between obsessions with violence and obsessions with games. I think it’s the responsibility of the parents to look at their children and know who they are and make parental decisions accordingly.

I’m a writer; I have to defend works of the imagination. It’s what I believe in and there are things that I believe are too important to be held to strict standards of the truth. You have to allow the mind space to create whatever the hell it wants to. Perhaps someday, if psychology ever becomes more than guess work, we’ll really understand what the consequences are. I think there’s reason for parental concern, but I cannot get tied in a knot about the social consequences of violent games; I just think it’s bullsh*t, frankly…

DR: We want to thank Tom for thaking the time to speak with us about this upcoming episode and we look forward to catching it next Sunday on Fox. In the meantime, head over to his home page to learn more about him.