<CharlieDigital/> Programming, Politics, and uhh…pineapples

19Sep/05Off

The Unexpected Gamer

(Random) It has a similar consonance to The Constant Gardner.

Anyways, after watching Mr. Iwata's keynote speech,
I'm more convinced than ever that Nintendo is going in the right
direction and is going to change the way we, as a society, view gaming.

The
key point that Mr. Iwata makes is that the human-machine interface for
consoles, the controller, has never been fully accepted.  In fact,
non-gamers probably find them daunting and quite alien.  Truth be
told, one of the most tedious parts of starting any new game is
learning the control scheme.  Memorizing button combos and what
not has never been a strength of mine, even after years of gaming.

Mr.
Iwata states that while even your grandmother would pick up a remote
control to interact with a television, many parents that grew up before
the video game generation are turned off to the games before even
playing them because they're intimidated and/or confused by the
interface. 

Making games more complex and more difficult
(the route that Microsoft and Sony are taking), simply alienates more
users by making the barrier of entry more difficult to surmount. 
A big part of that barrier is the modern controller and the fact that
as games become more complex, the only way to add new control schemes
is to add new buttons or utilize more combinations of buttons. 
Neither of those options is optimal nor are they intuitive/easy to use.

On
the other hand, as I was explaining to my wife how utterly badass it
would be to play Katamari Damacy with this new controller, even she was
getting excited about it (and she's as anti-gamer as they come).

Mr.
Iwata emphasizes an important point that I find myself agreeing with
more and more: games today fail to stimulate me.  You can only go
so far with graphics and immersion before it becomes the same-old,
same-old.  We can clearly see how this has failed the movie
industry as CG is so common nowadays, that even the definition of what
is visually inconceivable is radically different from what it was only a decade ago (or even half a decade ago
for that matter); at some bifurcation point, people just don't care
about how pretty or how realistic it looks.  Badass CG just
doesn't cut it nowadays.  The studios that "get it" smartly allot
small budgets to promising stories while the others throw big money to create a grand visual experience (some studios are just dumb and continue to build stupid rehashes).  The latter works increasingly rarely nowadays.

I only own four games for the PlayStation 2: Dance Dance Revolution, Metal Gear Solid 3 (I wrote a nice Amazon.com review
for it), Katamari Damacy, and We (Love) Katamari.  Part of the
problem is the time commitment.  As I've grown up, I find myself
with an ever increasing number of primary responsibilities and gaming
is becoming a hobby that I enjoy when I have free time.  As such,
I don't want to invest a huge amount of time playing long games (MGS3
being an exception).  As great as Resident Evil 4 is, I still haven't finished it, months after I purchased it.  The other part is that there aren't games that I want to play.  I mean, how different can MGS4 be from MGS3?  What new gaming experiences can I expect?  None.
 
That's
the most disappointing part of this: game developers have resigned
themselves to rehashing proven formulas rather than innovate and create
new expriences.  As we will see with the introduction of Atlas and
WPF/E, innovation in the UI can change the way we build and think
about software.  Similarly, Nintendo has proven, with the success
of the DS, that changing the way we interact with game devices can spur
innovation in developing new gaming experiences.  Most
importantly, and Mr. Iwata repeatedly emphasizes this, Nintendo is
aiming to generalize the definition of a "gamer" by making the
human-machine interface intuitive to everyone.

Without question,
of all of the next-gen consoles that are coming out, the only one that
I'm even remotely excited about is the Nintendo Revolution.  And
perhaps more importantly, even my wife is excited to try it out.

Posted by Charles Chen

Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I agree it is a rather exciting prospect to have not only gamers of old, but also the, for lack of better word, "regular" people being able to just pick it up and go for it. A more intuitive interface is something that woud really help them pick it up. Hardcore gamers are going to get the hang of it more easily than most of us seem to think as well, at least, that’s what I think.

    It’s just like, you know, when you used to watch your mom, or a non-gamer friend play games and move the controller along with it. It used to be that you told them "That’s not gonna help", but now, it will! What more could we want?

  2. "Hardcore gamers are going to get the hang of it more easily than most of us seem to think as well"

    I completely agree. I’m surprised that a lot of "hardcore" gamers at Arstechnica seem to be chalking this up as another failed novelty from Nintendo.


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