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Interviews

David Jaffe: Comfortably Dumb

Twisted Metal, straight talk...

David Jaffe is not a smart guy. He's making that perfectly clear.

If he's not claiming that he "lacks the wisdom" needed to make prescient industry forecasts, he's apologising for his "brain power" diminishing as he trundles past his 40th birthday.

Apparently, CVG could have approached "plenty of less dumb" individuals on the sweltering E3 2011 show floor for market insight. And as far as technological understanding is concerned, forget it: Jaffe "thought we'd be flying around in cars right now".

This vocal self-doubt is a far cry from the cartoonish ego-flexer that forum lore - and to be fair, his own expletive-ridden Twitter account - all-too-often, and all-too-crudely paint.

Maybe it's the junk food. Jaffe admits that he's been hoovering up crisps, cookies and "heathless crap" in L.A all week - the manifestation of what he calls his "irritating" weakness for over-indulgence during fraught times.

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Then again, it could simply be that he's pissed off; sick to the hind teeth of the "shitty slip-ups" that have blighted an otherwise impressive show for his upcoming PS3 exclusive - inclusive of Sony staff showing unfinished code to European journalists.

Or perhaps, after almost two decades in the industry - having recently heard that an unidentified game currently in production is costing $80 million, 100 times the budget of the original Twisted Metal - Jaffe's just given up on his capacity for reason altogether.

"I'm not being hyperbolic when I say $80m," he explains in a frenetic, mile-a-minute patter with which we never quite keep pace. "I'm actually talking about $80m, being made right now. I mean, holy shit! Eighty. Million. Dollars! Apparently, that's where the industry's going. Crazy, right?"

If Jaffe's mind rattles along at half the velocity of his conversation, you have to pity whoever at EatSleepPlay edits his ideas. Sneeze, and you'll miss an entire sentence.

The sheer impetus of his responses make it tough to deconstruct his unflattering self-portrait - that of the unspectacular industry everyman, and his half-witted guesswork. (Jaffe's penchant for profanity certainly fits: In our 43 minutes together, we're graced with no fewer than 23 shits and 11 fucks.)

Yet although Jaffe protests there are "many more people with many more smarts" in E3's giant Convention Center, we'd wager that few others could offer either his industry sagacity or, crucially, his enlightening breed of candour.

And right now, on the last day of what's obviously been a punishing E3 (Jaffe sits hunched, complete with grubby stubble, loose fitting t-shirt and generously comfy trainers that indicate he's ready for home) the Alabama native's in the mood to talk history.

Where better to start, then, than Sony - the company where he made his name, first in 1995 with Twisted Metal, then again in 2005 with God Of War; where he experimented with 2007's PSN oddity Calling All Cars - and which is helping bankroll Jaffe's major league return to PlayStation in October. It's a relationship, the designer admits, that has recently undergone an intriguing evolution.

"The reality is, I'm not loyal to any company, because I think that's asking for trouble," he reveals. "Have I had a great experience with Sony and am I loyal to the individuals that have helped me here who are just good and honest people? Absolutely, and I will always will be until they give me a reason not to - which in 20 years they never have.

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