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10/25/2006

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Tommy @ dodoskido.com

I think there are at least two levels of gamers:

Casual and Hardcore

Now for the casual gamer, I'd want to be sure the game has wide appeal. If I were to put this in terms of 2006 consoles, I'd say this is something akin to the Wii. I believe the Wii overall will cast the widest net in demographic ocean. I work at the purveyor of the Xbox 360 itself (yes BillG is my boss's boss's boss's boss's.....boss) and a lot of folks here see Wii as a companion device to the Xbox. The primary mode of gameplay is innovative and seemingly gets away from the "more buttons with each generation of console" release complexity that drives gaming to a group of motor-skill elite that can handle 18 buttons with only 6 fingers.

So for casual gamers, I would look for:
simplicity (not to be mistaken for lack of depth)

innovative game play (DDR, katamari, etc)

easy to learn (DDR, katamari, etc)

not necessarily different from everyday life (the sims: live out mundane other-lifes, second life: live out semi-interesting online alter egos, nintendogs: raise puppies, etc.)

fun (in the summer-day slip'n'slide sense)


For hardcore gamers (of which I used to be), I would look at a different set of metrics. Again in 2006 consoles, I'd say that the PS3 is in the "overly hardcore" side of the fence while Xbox 360 lies somewhere near hardcore but Microsoft is desperately trying to pull it towards a happy medium.

Metrics for hardcore games:
Escapism (ability to do things can't do in real life...carjack, fight war, blast aliens, command armies)
Control (by this I mean user interface, control layout, etc...think Halo: sheer beauty)
Graphics, realism (even in surreal environments)
Customizability
Braggability (gamertags, online rankings, etc)

Anyway, I think the difficulty is that games are not really about the story line. They're more about execution and game play. For a movie, one can "see" what a movie will be like with a script and maybe a few simply sketches. But with gaming, it's experiential...you have to "just play it". By that time, you've already invest quite a bit...you've built a game engine, created some graphics, tested (hopefully), etc. If there was a good way to model a game quickly and cheaply that would be the first step to getting a "movie script" sort of preview item that reviewers could try.

Ham

I would say succesful games are those the drive/feed/manipulate basic player/human motivations. Some examples:

* What makes people gamble?
* What makes people get addicted to gambling?

* what makes people feel that they own or possess something?

* What makes people feel that they achieve or accomplish something?

* What makes people feel that they are communicating with an entity or that an entity is communicating with them?

* What makes people feel that they are in control?

I think you start about a few decades ago and read Richard Bartle's paper 'Player's who suits MUDs' and go from there. Alot of game design is the manipulation of player motivations.

If a system could quantify and weight the possible motivations a games caters to or induces into the player, then you could probably get some sort of metric for game success.

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