Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Video games, interaction

Where to begin? It's been a long time, but I've been so preoccupied with graduating, moving, and everything I haven't had much opportunity to be creative. But as it so often does when repressed, it came flowing out today.

Saw a post on Cracked.com about the future of videogames as related to interaction (and therefore interaction design). This is especially interesting considering the demise of the original Wii and recent release of the Wii U as well as the success of the Microsoft Kinect (not sure what it's commercial success is, but I understand what it's appeal is, however limited in capacity).

To start- the most interesting aspect of the article is the fact that it quotes major game designers and the perception from device makers as not really understanding the best way to experience and provide games. This has even boiled down to the most fundamental question of "What IS a game?", which the author does a very nice job of breaking down into three categories-

1. dollar-app time wasters on portable devices (Angry Birds)
2. simple multiplayer interaction environments on home consoles (Halo)
3. long-arc story driven, problem solving entertainment (L.A. Noir)

The complaint of the author was that manufacturers have not figured out which type is best overall, resulting in an ugly mass of evolution and failed experimentation. And I agree about the failures of the current offerings- you can tell that nobody knows what will be successful (though, that's really part of any business).
The issue I have however, is that they shouldn't be trying to stick in a niche market and hope that it works. This is the (very) rare circumstance where having a hand in each existing market could be wildly successful.

IMAGINE: You own a Windows Mobile phone, Xbox, and PC (having all three devices makes Microsoft the best prepared for this scenario, though Nintendo isn't far off with the DS and Wii). You buy a game, "Call of Duty 20", and portions of it are supported on each of the three devices. How? Take the dollar-app, low graphic content time wasters (training, target practice, intelligence gathering, whatever) and play them on the phone. The results are transmitted to the Xbox, computer, (or a central account) where you perform the multiplayer and/or long-arc storyline. It's simple really(famous last words)- instead of fighting the different formats, why not make them work together, extending the interaction with not only the game, but the devices and the company overall? This could be extended to the point where the phone is the controller, reducing the cost of the console, and again- creating a connection to the device ("everytime I hold my phone, I feel like killing zombies!").

The best thing about it? You wouldn't have to own everything. If developed correctly, each would be able to stand on its own, for the part of the population that doesn't want to sit down for 5hrs a weekend playing videogames, or the part of the population that doesn't like little time wasters (does this exist in my generation?).

Who knows? Maybe this is the direction things are going, and the tech is just being developed to quality levels. We'll see!

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