Making Games For Non-Gamers

from the how-do-you-do-it? dept

It seems that every few months there’s yet another story about how to make video games for an audience other than the usual crowd of games. Usually those articles focus on making games for women – something that companies have been talking about over and over again. Here are two more articles on the subject, though. First, a piece written for the BBC by a game developer says you need to put more emotion into games. Meanwhile, it appears that all of the new handheld gaming devices think that they can successfully target adults as mobile gamers rather than focusing on the youth market that Nintendo has traditionally owned. The more I think about this, the less of an issue I think this is. The hard core gamers seem to enjoy very complex games with impressive graphics and detailed storylines. However, these things seem to scare off the more casual gamer. At the same time, we hear stories of the millions of folks who spend their time playing solitaire or going online to play various card games online. It seems to me that those “simple” games are the games that casual gamers are signing up for. The learning curve isn’t high. The commitment level isn’t high – and there’s often something eerily addictive about very simple games.

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Comments on “Making Games For Non-Gamers”

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Gary Burke (user link) says:

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Go to any casino and you’ll see hundreds of non-gamer people every night playing games. Poker, blackjack, craps and especially slots. Most slot machines are practically video games, with advanced graphics and complicated payout schemes and interfaces. 75 year old grannies have no problem figuring out video poker.

It has nothing to do with complexity, ’emotion’ or intimidation factor. It has to do with expected reward for putting in the time to learn. People play slots because they can win cash money. That reward is worth the effort to them. Fighting a fictional demon is not.

A “non-gamer” doesn’t see the value in spending hours in tutorials to learn how to press fifteen buttons in exactly the right sequence to fight a big demon or give orders to a squad of Navy SEALs.

I think if game designers can break out of the ‘sci-fi/fantasy/military’ rut that they are in, and create games that appeal to other genres, say murder mysteries or romances or legal thrillers, perhaps they could reach a wider audience. The reward would not be monetary, like a slot machine, but story-based, like a TV show. The problem is the game industry is controlled by overgrown adolescents who want to blow stuff up : it’s as if the program directors at TV networks grew up watching Westerns, and so that’s all they put on their networks, slightly different Westerns to appeal to fractionally different groups of Western fans, but everyone else is left out in the cold – and then the program directors wondering why nobody else wants to watch their network’s fine array of Western shows.

Plenty and I mean plenty of people who never play games otherwise loved “The Sims”.

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