Predicting the Interactive Medium’s Progression

April 15, 2009 § Leave a comment

Sitting down to read a novel more than a hundred years old is much more difficult than reading something from the sixties. Until about the 1900’s books weren’t written for normal people, they were written for the academics, the scholars of the time, and this made them difficult for the average person to appreciate them. Nowadays almost all works of fiction are written in a way practically everyone can understand. Many literary critics miss the days of old when books were, for lack of a better phrase ‘hard.’ But is gaming doomed to a similar fate?

Sitting a non-gamer down to play a modern game is a difficult thing to do, not least because of the stigma surrounding doing such a thing. Common staples of a gamers diet, health, respawning, save points, inventories, all these things we take for granted are completely alien to someone who simply doesn’t game. Add to this the sheer dexterity needed to play most games and getting the girlfriend to play through a level of Timesplitters is not a task for the faint of heart.

Game developers were until recently focussed almost entirely on gamers, with a hope that games of a high enough standard would encourage non-gamers to start gaming just to experience them. Whilst this is certainly an optimistic way of looking at things the Wii has, if anything, proved that the quality of games has not been what’s been turning people off (how many bad minigame compilations have we seen in the charts in recent months?) but their complexity.

It therefore follows that in order to get the mainstream playing the long, complex games we play, these games need to ditch the requirement for the assumed knowledge we take into them in order to make them playable for everyone else. Will this make games less enjoyable for the hardcore? Almost certainly.

The solution most modern classics seem to be comfortable with is being accessible whilst containing depth for those who seek it. This might not be the future of gaming, it might prove impossible in the long run to convert the masses from their Wii Sports to Heavy Rain or Ico, but it’s certainly something worth thinking about whilst game companies continue to actually target the “core audience.”

Jon can no longer write long articles due to the insane amount of time they take him to write on a Dvorak keyboard. Over time things will return to normal as his speed improves.

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