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| Make me a gamer again! (30 comments )|
by: CanadaDave (303) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 2
Posted 75 months ago ( edited 75 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
Note - this is a rework of an article I'd submitted in Round 1 incorporating some of the advice I received.
|» MEDIA (5)|
Okay - so controllers are better than they were.
No aphids were harmed...
My dinners were cold. Often.
Oh, the shrieking..
Creating cold dinners for 25 years.
My name is Dave, and I’d like to once again become addicted to video games.
I can talk for hours about what my addiction used to mean to myself and my family. I could bring a tear to your eye with tales of my youth, which was spent guiding my Lady Bug in search of aphids on my Colecovision system. My mother could make your mouths water, describing the wonderful meals that she made… only to watch me gulp it down in mere seconds in a mad rush to finish the last treasure room in Venture. My teacher… well, Gameboy hadn’t been invented yet, so my teacher just thought I was a nuisance.
Ah…. Those were lonely, selfish, wonderful times. Times that, sadly, have come to an end.
I, like most of us (okay, SOME of us) have been forced to grow up. I’m now a father of two beautiful children, a husband, an IT guy, a volunteer (usually a volunteer IT guy – many of you know my pain)… and, at the bottom of the list, I’m a gamer. This last category, though, is becoming harder and harder to claim as a part of my repertoire.
I no longer have the time to get good enough at games to compete. If I can play a game (say, Halo 2) for an hour per week, I'm really quite happy with that - until I venture online. An hour a week is roughly enough time to die in combat 45 times, while amassing about 8 kills of my own (if I happen to have primed a grenade and die a close-quarters death). I end up being reduced to what I loathe most - a camper - sitting motionless and hoping that someone wanders into my crosshairs so I can pull the trigger.
I can still say with confidence: I know that isn’t gaming.
Technology has moved a VERY long way from the era of Donkey Kong, Missile Command and Berzerk. It is truly amazing to wander into a store and see the new games on display; games have evolved to a point where graphics really are a good approximation of reality. We have sound effects that absolutely mirror real life. We have on-screen physics that are so close to real life that they often need their own processor just to calculate movement. What lags, however, is the intuitive interface between real life (remember that place, basement-dwellers?) and video games.
I’m well aware that a good FPS *gamer* can pick up a controller and be able to competently play most FPS titles within a half hour of opening the box. I’m well aware that an average RTS gamer can play most RTS games pretty competently without any training at all. Put a good RTS gamer in front of an FPS game, however, and the compartmentalization of today’s video game industry shows its ugly head – frustration sets in, and you hear shouts of “wait until we’re playing Age of Kings!” from across the LAN party floor.
Why can’t your Uncle Fred pick up the controller and play Gears of War without ending up pointing his gunsight at the ground and running around in an endless loop? Sure, it’s hilarious to watch (add alcohol to intensify effect), but it shows a lack of intuition in the control design that is keeping people from becoming actively involved in video games. This (while a good thing in that your Uncle Fred isn’t always coming over to play your X-Box 360) hurts us in the long run by keeping hardcore gamers socially isolated from the rest of the population… and it hurts game development by limiting the potential audience to, well, “gamers”.
Video games need an additional step of evolution that bridges the gap, so that people who have normal lives can actually play – with reasonable competency – most games without an enormous learning curve. It works with playing cards (how hard are the rules of Poker, *really*?).. and whoever can figure out how to make it work in video games will be a venerated hero to those of us Real-Lifers who miss our game time.
Nintendo has made an important step with the Wii - I think we've all seen it - and that needs to continue. I've now had invitations from three separate friends to come over and try their Wiis (I've not had the time as yet), but you can see it.. the gleam in their eye is back. They can pick up a game and actually PLAY it with their sons and daughters and have genuine FUN doing it. More - it becomes a SOCIAL event. Mom watches (and even plays!). The kids take turns. Mini-tournaments are set up. Bets are made over who has to do the dishes.
This is what gaming is SUPPOSED to be, everyone. This is the true "convergence" that we have been hearing about for so long. Forget about playing movies on your game machine. Convergence includes that one all-important aspect that Nintendo has finally scratched the surface of with its Wii console - the importance of the SOCIAL element of games.
Nintendo’s Wii isn’t the first to get it, however. Go into a Best Buy with Guitar Hero 2 on display. Pick up the guitar (if someone else hasn’t beat you to it), and you’re guaranteed to have a spectator or two within 5 minutes. Guitar Hero 2 has sold 1.3 million units in 2006 alone – on a console not even considered “Current-Gen”. This, despite its considerable price tag of $79.99 (a premium of 25% over the $59 Gears of War) and the fact that far fewer units of the game will actually fit on a retailer’s shelf due to the larger footprint of the box.
For my daughter’s 5th birthday, I bought her a Strawberry Shortcake adaptation of Dance Dance Revolution (stand-alone unit which connects directly to the TV). She loved it – she and her friend danced around on the pad, squealing (randomly and, frankly, annoyingly) for hours. She ignored the Barbie stand-alone joystick game I bought her, despite the fact that it had a “storybook princess” theme which she vastly prefers (and emulates).
I’m not suggesting that we need to reduce the complexity of games to what a 5 year old can handle. What I AM saying, however, is that video games need to start taking advantage of people’s urge to gravitate to what feels natural to them. If game controls (and games themselves) are given more natural controls (and gameplay), we will see an expansion of the video game market at a rate that vastly exceeds anything we’ve encountered in history.
I can see that there is light on the horizon. Here's hoping that in another couple of years, we’re all reaping the benefits of gaming companies which have - finally – figured out the next step in developing the technology that we have available to us.
Please, gaming companies… make me a gamer again!
|30 User Comment(s) • 11 root comment(s)|
| xts (27) Mar 02, 2007 - 07:03 pm|
|» A problem with your time, not games.|
I'll have to say that I don't think the problem has ever really been with the gaming interface, sure interfaces can get better, but gaming is, in its own way fundamentally deep down... A SPORT, with a wheel, gamepad, the Wii controller, or what have you.
If you really want to play "old man games" that have no skill or twitch component, go play the plethora of MMO's, they are MADE JUST FOR YOU. The fool who has no skill to save his life and says "make games so unchallenging and pathetically simple that they are not games anymore"
Sorry but game companies have been BUTCHERING gameplay left right in center in some genre's like RPG's (Final fantasy 9,10, 10-2, 11 and 12 all come to mind).
Lastly I don't think you deserve to be called a gamer, if you can only get one hour a week in and want to play "serious" games, sorry, but go back to playing Puzzle penguin or indy games. You have an issue with game design, go make your own FPS or invest in a game dev company.
I would hate to see beautiful masterpieces like Tales of symphonia dumbed down for the common idiotic fodther (get it? :P).
The truth is as an adult just either 1) Make more time for games or 2) Find simpler games. It's not anyones place to give you more time to play games. You married the wife, you had the kids... you sacrificed your time. Don't take the fun away from what makes games great.
The choices you have to make, and the challenges that arise from them.
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| CanadaDave (303) Mar 03, 2007 - 06:50 am | Edited on Mar 03, 2007 - 01:13 pm|
|Why, you young whippersnap-|
Heh. Nice job, XTS. I was actually waiting far longer than I'd thought for a posting like that. Why... in my day, we'd have been all over the geezer who was trying to alter our games like that.
Rather than go through the posting and argue each point, let me just summarize with a few things:
1) Making the controls more intuitive does not equal dumbing down gameplay. I loathe games that are simple walkthroughs, and basic AIs are a personal pet peeve. Games themselves need to be challenging, but the controls don't need to be a portion of that.
2) You've invested enormous amounts of time into learning the controls. Nice job - happy for ya. :) However - it doesn't have to be that way. You like it that way because it gives you an edge over people like me - again, due to the experience you have with your controls, you benefit.
I'd whup you on a game controlled with a Coleco controller. Those things were really odd beasts - a knob at the end of a stick with two opposing buttons and a numeric keypad. But I could dance through that controller like nobody's business. Doesn't make the controller better, or me a better gamer.
I'm separating controls from gameplay. You should, too.
Better controllers mean more freedom for developers to play the games - but that freedom doesn't need to come at the cost of the controls being counter-intuitive.
And that's my point. :)
Appreciate the comment. The downvote was kinda silly, though - after all, the point of an editorial is to spark debate... right? ;)
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| tonster181 (1) Mar 07, 2007 - 05:14 pm|
|» I feel your pain|
Great article. Easy read and decent grammar. I am also a dad who used to play for hours on end and now find myself with very little time to play. I'm pretty good at FPS and ok at RTS, but I don't play much anymore, so I'm slowly moving down the ladder of players in any particular FPS of my choosing. I have found a few games that people aren't as adept at and have found great success in them, however, on the whole this is not the case.
The connundrum I face is that I can't spend enough time to discover new games where the skill level isn't so high in multiplayer, because I don't have the time to research, buy and play enough games. Anyway, this post is anything but good grammar, but I just wanted to let you know that I empathize. I would have enjoyed your post even if I didn't empathize though, as it is an easy read and entertaining in a light sort of way. Tony
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| xts (27) Mar 03, 2007 - 06:17 pm|
|» Thanks for the courteous response!|
Well its nice to see you saw my post as reactionary (smart guy)... but
"2) You've invested enormous amounts of time into learning the controls. Nice job - happy for ya. :) "
This is the whole point, take a game like Street fighter 2, soul calibur or Hell even super smash brothers melee at some point its not "gaming" (you controlling the character and "being in" the game). It's you watching a robotically programmed avatar walk around the map while you navigate and type "omg look at how awesome I am!"
Seriously, check out classics and under-rated games like Gradius V or Ikaruga, they are quick but immensely challenging. If you tried to dumb down those games the would CEASE being games and become passive animated crap.
I play games to BE INVOLVED, not be taken away back to passive movie land. Games are like roller coaster rides, making them less and less like that and turning them into movies is what is wrong with RPG's currently like FF12, I felt like I wasn't playing a game but merely navigating and letting the 'computer play for me' no skill, no choice involved, just select the rules you want and the computer will do it for you.
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| Disavowed_RuBiX (8) Mar 01, 2007 - 11:55 am | Edited on Mar 01, 2007 - 02:01 pm|
|» Learning Curve = Fun|
For some of the truly devoted online game players out there, part of the fun has been the learning curve of the controls as well as learning the maps, tricks, exploits, and so on. There is a since of accomplishment when you've spent hour upon hour hammering away at a game to finally reach the top of the ranks, or get that unlockable. Achieving that goal goes hand in hand with the fun of the game. Whether it’s online, single player, console, or PC doesn’t matter, people will dump their money into any, if not multiple, forms of game play no matter the platform and long as they’re interested, and remain that way.
For CanadaDave's desire to be achieved and satisfy MOST audiences, as all audiences is virtually impossible, a graduated system needs to be in place not only for in game, but also for the controls to that game. The initial control should get the general “non-gamer” into the game, and while they may get beat; still have fun and remain interested in the game. As the player advances, they are then enabled/unlocked to use more complex controls which allow more functionality and benefits to the game and a new level of complexity to game play. This format compounded over the entire lifespan of a game can increase the "fun" of the game, the amount of people that will not only take interest in it, and also the amount that remain interested in it.
If one’s PC, console, and programs can have various devices that add functionality over basic input, why not your games?
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