Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Games and the 'Geek Stereotype' 454

ChinoH81 writes "Video games are never going to be as popular as films or music unless the people who make them concentrate on making them fun, says a leading game expert."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Games and the 'Geek Stereotype'

Comments Filter:
  • no offense.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Other White Boy ( 626206 ) <theotherwhiteboy ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:03PM (#6853625)
    but is it a slow news day or what? =)

    to make this somewhat on topic, i'd actually say that i have to disagree with the article. i think if you concentrate and try to push it out to a demographic thats not familiar with gaming, they'll just resist it more than they normally would. i think to spread there just needs to be more 'killer apps,' for lack of a better term.
    • A leading game expert was flogged for making stupid remarks. Fired.
    • Re:no offense.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trolling4Dollars ( 627073 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:28PM (#6853855) Journal
      Great point. But what would the "killer app" be? Different games appeal to different people for different reasons. However, there are always going to be people who just don't "get" games. For example, I love mystery/puzzle games like Myst, but I also enjoy a FPS like Quake or Unreal. I can't stand strategy or sim type games though. To me those games lack any appeal because of the involvment and complexity but the interface is piss poor. Now, if we were at a point where a sim or strategy game could be a fully immersive experience with VR, I would be more intrigued. We're just not there yet. I mean think about it. Wouldn't life really suck if you have to click on people and type in order to interact with them all the time? I'm sure some of you have eventually tolkd the person you were IMing to give you a call on the phone because it's much easier to communicate verbally rather than textually. SO I would argue that what needs to change to make games more appealing is to essentially move them into the realm of being alternate reality with very well rendered spaces and avatars. Until then, the only really fun games are same-gnome, tetris the puzzle game and Chicken Invaders (which runs well under WINE BTW...) :)
      • Re:no offense.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:56PM (#6854101)
        Well, some of us are experimenting with the concept of games as art/entertainment and looking at ways to extend the appeal of 3D graphical entertainment apps outside of the classic "gamer market" (my company is one of those). There are opportunities for computer entertainment that doesn't involve semi-clad women writhing around or spewing blood and guts, though you wouldn't know it from going to SIGGRAPH, E3 or other such industry conferences.

        I don't quite know if video-game-as-3D-avatar-chat is _the_ killer app to bring 3D to the masses, but I think one of the keys is simpler modes of interactivity. The controls and interactions of many games, as you rightly point out, are just too complex for Joe Average. A combination of new control mechanisms with a shift in thinking about games and use of realtime 3D graphics will certainly be required to make the real crossover to mainstream.

      • Re:no offense.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dknight ( 202308 ) <damen.knightspeed@com> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @06:30PM (#6854341) Homepage Journal
        You prefer the phone over IM/Text?

        I hate the phone. When people call me, I tell them to try IMing me if they actually want a conversation. I can say more, faster, over IMs than the phone, plus I am not so limited in how many people I can talk to at once.

        I have a cell phone, but you know how often I actually talk on it? Almost never. You can be sure I more than use my monthly allotment of text messages though.

        I am looking forward to the day when I wont have to pick up a phone ever again.
        • Re:no offense.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by vsprintf ( 579676 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @07:31PM (#6854653)

          I am looking forward to the day when I wont have to pick up a phone ever again.

          So you prefer short-hand glyphs to actually talking to someone where you can hear the tonal inflections? I gotta say, I think that's strange. There are so many flame wars started just because people mistake the intent behind text messages.

    • Re:no offense.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by r ( 13067 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:48PM (#6854034)
      but is it a slow news day or what? =)

      heh, yes, that has to be one of the worst bbc taglines i've seen. :) but what the article is trying to say is quite worthwhile: that people who make video games need to concentrate on making them fun for people who won't put up with the broken affordances of today's products. and in doing so, they'll have to fix them. :)

      to make this somewhat on topic, i'd actually say that i have to disagree with the article. i think if you concentrate and try to push it out to a demographic thats not familiar with gaming, they'll just resist it more than they normally would.

      if you push present products onto an unsuspecting populace, then yes, they will, as they should. but what about if you start fixing games, so they actually appeal to more than the standard asocial obsessive-compulsive type? :)

      video games are often broken. for example, time investment. games often require sinking several continuous hours at a time, and not many people can afford that (students excluded :). developers that want to target working adults need to fit games into their lives, not the other way around.

      another example are broken reward/punishment schedules: negative conditioning cycles are commonly hidden in mundane game elements, such as in having to reload a level until you get it right. pavlov would be proud. :)

      and then there's juvenile storytelling, which is a huge turn-off. most people don't bother with pulp fantasy because it's puerile; why should they bother with even worse RPGs? :)

      there are, of course, more problems than that, and they are complex, and without easy fixes. and maybe they will get addressed eventually, if hardcore gamers only stopped touting them as features... :)
      • Re:no offense.. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @07:39PM (#6854706) Journal
        That article was utterly without redemption. PHB on games... oh, lets take notes!

        The viewpoint that games are solely a product to be sold, and not an art form is the sort of attitude that will ruin gaming the way it has pretty much ruined movies and music.

        If a game has integrity and vision, it will be good.

        If it is produced by a well-oiled, hollywood-style machine, it will be uninspired, fun for a few moments in the exact same fashion the last game you played was fun.

        If it is caught between those two worlds, it will be garbage, with left-over complexity from the smashed vision but no integrity.

        A fine example of a great game that appeals across demographics is the Baldurs Gate series. It requires significant time investment... my GF and I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours over several years playing them, and we're not quite done. It is challenging... you often need to repeat challenges to achieve victory, or to talk to everyone in the town for the third time before you find the one you're looking for. And it is, of course, fantasy, which is why we and so many others like it...

        You want to know what key feature Baldurs Gate has that allows me to play it with my GF and loan it to my parents to play? It's one simple thing: You don't need fast reflexes to excel at it.

        That's what I think differentiates a game for boys and young men from a game for everyone. If you need razor reflexes to play, most women and older ppl won't ever be good at it, so they won't like it. Hell, "The Sims" became successful using this key feature; I'd say that pretty much demonstrates it's effectiveness... the game didn't exactly have anything else going for it, did it? :)

  • Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by feyhunde ( 700477 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:03PM (#6853626)
    Games are suppose to be fun? Since when?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Smallpond ( 221300 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:06PM (#6853652) Homepage Journal
      Games are suppose to be fun? Since when?

      Note who is saying this. "Laura Fryer, director of the Xbox Advanced Technology Group". It means the XBox folks have just figured this out.
      • Gosh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pilotofficerprune ( 682802 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:46PM (#6854011)
        Speaking as a industry veteran, a games designer of some years, I now understand what I've been doing wrong all these years. Fun. Damnit! Why didn't I think of that before?
        This observation is, of course, like unto a thing made entirely of poo. I find it particularly offensive coming from the Redmond crowd, whom I've had some dealings with. I am no longer inclined to take advice from a bunch of middle-aged cardigan-wearing preppy types who know everything about project management and zip about gameplay, other than what's been fed them by their Usability department focus-testers.
        MS Usability have a lot of influence over people who are commissioning. They have their act honed and appear to be doing their best to reduce gameplay to a science - to quantify fun. I've been through some of their reports and it's not easy reading. It sums up their attitude to games: clinical, rationalized, objectified, sanitized, blah. They think too hard about it.
        What a difference it is talking to Nintendo. Right from the off they tell you gameplay is king. Everything comes back to the control system. They pound this into you again and again, but it's good. Because they have not made this a science; they treat games design as an artform and know how subjective a thing it is. They understand fun. They know their stuff.
        • Re:Gosh (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @08:04PM (#6854827)
          Woohoo, I think you hit the nail on the head. I'm currently playing Zelda The Wind Waker on the Nintendo Gamecube, along with a few of their other flagship products and their focus on FUN! is apparent. After years of playing X-box, PS2, and PC games that have almost unanimously been dark (visually and thematically) I finally buckled down and bought the Gamecube. I feel refreshed. Playing The Wind Waker is like popping The Princess Bride into your VCR after months of formulaic Hollywood blockbusters. The game not only plays like a dream, it has an original style, is well executed, and in my opinion borders on true art. Maybe in the end that's what gaming will boil down to... Redmond/Hollywood Formula vs Independent/Creative game developers.
  • What the?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by CGP314 ( 672613 ) <CGP AT ColinGregoryPalmer DOT net> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:05PM (#6853638) Homepage
    Video games are never going to be as popular as films or music unless the people who make them concentrate on making them fun.

    All right, show of hands. Who is a geek and exclusively plays non-fun video games?
    • by El ( 94934 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:13PM (#6853712)
      Take note of this, Id Software: Doom will never be as popular as the movie Gigli unless you make it more fun!
    • Re:What the?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:16PM (#6853743)
      Actually a lot of people. When asked why they like game X they explain all the technical details like the graphics, sound, detail. A lot of them never say it is a fun game. These people play games so they can get to the next cinematic scene. It it wasn't for the cinematic reward after hours of boring game-play the games would never be played. The many of the old games of the 80s did not have any cool graphics and many of them did not have any defined ending, if they did it was some small text with The End or You Win. The reward for playing the game for hours was playing the game itself not winning or the grand diversions in the middle.
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 )
      > All right, show of hands. Who is a geek and exclusively plays non-fun video games?

      I hear SWG's up to 275,000 players :)

      • by miu ( 626917 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:50PM (#6854051) Homepage Journal
        I hear SWG's up to 275,000 players :)

        I'd reply to your implication that SWG is a "non-fun" game, but I have to get back to work killing the swarms of butterflies and prairie dogs that seem to infest every planet in the known universe.

        15 more hours and I'll grind enough experience to qualify for the elite puppy stomper profession.... and some storm trooper armor.

    • Re:What the?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by isomeme ( 177414 ) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @06:05PM (#6854165) Homepage Journal
      I think it's a fairer comment than you're giving her credit for. Geeks tend to like games that involve a huge commitment in learning and practice before you begin to succeed. And they like lots of fine control. My wife calls my favorite computer game (Space Empires IV) "Spreadsheets in Spaaaaace!" because it's mostly about economic and logistical management rather than intense combat or stunning visuals. I can play it for hours at a time, but I'm well aware that I'm far from normal in this regard. For most people, it would be like doing tax returns as recreation.
  • Duped? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Malicious ( 567158 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:05PM (#6853642)
    What this gentleman didn't consider is that most of us would prefer to spend $20-$40 on a videogame we would play for weeks, than $20-$40 to go to a movie for 2 hours and have a bag of popcorn.
  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:06PM (#6853648) Journal
    A lot of games (Metroid Prime, any Pokemon game, Grand Theft Auto 3/Vice City, Zelda: The Wind Waker, etc) sell more copies than major motion pictures sell tickets.

    But, whatever.

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:06PM (#6853649) Journal
    I think that to a certain extent Games create dorks. Those dorks go on to create more games which create even more dorks who create even more games that create still more dorks that create still more games...... and slashdot.
  • Games of today (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bigjnsa500 ( 575392 ) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .005asnjgib.> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:06PM (#6853651) Homepage Journal
    I don't care for any of the games today. Their "FUN" factor just isn't there. I remember the days of endless quarters playing games like 1942, Galaga and Moon Patrol. Now those were games.
    • Re:Games of today (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LMCBoy ( 185365 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:32PM (#6853887) Homepage Journal
      I remember those games fondly also...however, I think we have different expectations today. Would you really buy "Moon Patrol" if it was available at Best Buy today? Would you play it for more than 5 minutes? I don't think I would.

      I recently had the chance to play "Roadblasters" at an airport arcade, which was one of my favorite games as a wee lad. Here's the thing: It was Lame. Just totally unredeemable.
    • Re:Games of today (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BrynM ( 217883 ) * on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:32PM (#6853890) Homepage Journal
      playing games like 1942
      As a long time 1942 fan (I can spend about an hour with 1 credit, longer on Galaga), I'd have to say that Battlefield 1942 [plantebattlefield.com] is my new fix. Yes, it's more complicated than 1942 was, but it's addictive and fun especially once you get the hang of flying. I can run around bombing tanks, dogfighting, sinking ships and even landing without having to deal with all of the controls of a flight sim. The best part is that I can get out and just shoot at stuff too.

      I don't know if 1942 and Battlefield 1942 are actually related branding wise, but BF1942 has definately carried on the 1942 tradition of simple, fast paced games for me. It's simple enough that my roommate was able to start playing right away and still have lots to explore play wise (he's learning to dive bomb and strafe now).

      • Re:Games of today (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sahala ( 105682 ) *
        but BF1942 has definately carried on the 1942 tradition of simple, fast paced games for me

        Simple, fast paced? BF1942 has a ton of weapons and vehicles and HUGE maps. The system requirements are higher, network lag is profound, and I have yet to see actual proper teamplay, especially on a public server. Yes, the game is SO simple that most of the time players run around on their own, oblivious to map objectives. BF1942 is meant to be played for the simulation aspect (hence historical maps) NOT playab

    • Not necessarily (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ethelred Unraed ( 32954 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:39PM (#6853947) Journal
      I too remember fondly games like Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Tetris, Battlezone, even good ole Space Invaders as being horrendously addicting. (Though I always had problems with Missile Command because I kept getting my fingers pinched by the rollerball...)

      An arcade that I went to in those days, back in the early 80s, offered free quarters for good grades. And in those days I got straight As. Then we moved to a new area with no such arcade, and my grades plummeted. Coincidence? ;-)

      But there are good games today as well. Madden 200x, the Myst series, the Civilization series, Tekken, Myth, and so on are all great games for me (though Myth and Civ are admittedly a little complicated for the average person and not really mainstream). True, these are a lot more complex than, say, Pac-Man, but still very playable and fun.

      There are plenty of really sucky games as well -- further evidence that quantity does not mean quality. I've never understood the hoopla about Final Fantasy -- I got FF X and was thoroughly bored by it. Onimusha Warlords was gorgeous, but lousy gameplay. Metal Gear Solid 2 was just atrocious IMO. Most fight games like Mortal Kombat also got to be *way* too complex (who the hell remembers all the special moves?) -- Tekken isn't as bad as MK in this regard IMO, but getting there.

      At the same time, there were plenty 1980s-era arcade games that stunk, as well as plenty of console games as well -- Haunted House for the Atari 2600, anyone?

      So I think the overall proportion of good to bad is more or less the same, just that the sheer number of games these days makes the mind boggle with all the crap that comes out. But once in a while a real gem comes out -- Oni, Myst, Civ, etc. -- that more than outweighs the stinkers -- Darkseed, ST:TNG "A Final Unity", Daikatana, etc.

      (Though I still like to play little whippersnappers on the PS2 in stores or at the CeBIT and clobber them...they see this 30ish guy and think "I'm gonna kick his ass", then I open up a can o' whoopass on them. Ah, those days in the arcades paid off after all... :-) )

      As to the article: I'd say the byline should be "from the no-shit dept."...



  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:07PM (#6853654) Homepage Journal
    unless they're made so that people enjoy playing them? it might shock you but that's what most videogames companies have been trying to do.

    like, no shit sherlock?

    ehm.. but .. aren't videogames popular? seriously.. they ARE!.
  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:07PM (#6853658) Homepage Journal
    How is a game going to become a long lasting classic if the hardware meant to run it stopped being manufactured 20+ years ago and the publishers were pricks about their property and wouldn't release it into the public domain or allow it to be ported? Emulators may take up some of the slack but don't count on those doing the job.
  • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:08PM (#6853669) Journal
    There are plenty of things that are not as popular as films or TV or music. Some of them are even entertaining such as skiing or going to hockey games.

    This comparison isn't especially enlightening, since it doesn't actually describe the relationship between film and games, other than "entertainment". To compare, you must have quantifyable things to measure. The only thing quantifyable they provided was cash outlay... which seemed to contradict the point of the article.
  • by pheared ( 446683 ) <kevin@NOspAM.pheared.net> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:08PM (#6853671) Homepage
    Santa: So tell your folks, "Buy me Bonestorm or go to Hell!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:08PM (#6853672)
    Is this a joke ?!

    'Leading experts agree, fun should be pleasurable.'

    I nominate this article troll of the year.
  • Movie Cost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CGP314 ( 672613 ) <CGP AT ColinGregoryPalmer DOT net> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:09PM (#6853674) Homepage
    But this is largely due to the high price of a game, around 40. compared to the cost of video rentals or a cinema ticket

    I went to see Tomb Raider this week with my girlfriend, including soda and popcorn that came out to be about 35 pounds. The price is about the same, but the movie only lasted 2 hours. A good game can last for months.
  • by Brad Cossette ( 319687 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:09PM (#6853680)
    Can you believe it? For the last 20+ years we've only really had BORING and FRUSTRATING games! That's why! D'oh!

    To quote: "One of the main obstacles was the complicated controls of many of today's games, as well as tough levels which left many players frustrated. "You want a game that is challenging but never frustrating," said Ms Fryer.

    Didn't they make the "Deer Hunter" games for those people?
    • Didn't they make the "Deer Hunter" games for those people?

      no, iraq attack [mac.com] is for those people :-)

      For the uninformed, it's a side-scrolling chopper game where you ..uh... fly over iraq and bomb... uh.. everything.

      in fact all you do is sidescroll and drop bombs nonstop since ammo is unlimited.

      I still remember that game from 15 years go when I was playing it and my dad stood besides me shaking his head 'but what's the fun in that' ?

      me looking at him 'duh ? fun ? now that you mention it...'

      It was
    • Game deigners in yet another huge display originality intolerance kepp making the same freaking puzzles, even though they are not fun, and completely annoying.

      Take Tron 2.0, for example. I loved the game, but I nearly threw it out the window once I got to the blasted moving platform, timed jumping puzzle, and the extra annoying moving platform, flip switches that make platforms disappear and reappear jumping puzzle.

      What the hell?! These puzzles make the game hard, but they don't make it fun. Sure you c
  • Games developers are trying to sell games. Games will not sell unless they are "fun". Obviously "geeks" are the type currently spending the most money on games, therefore it would be economic suicide to not target these types. Let's face it, if you've got a modeling career, an active social life, and volunteer for greenpeace in your spare time, you're not going to have a lot of time and money to spend on games, are you? From Chess to Monopoly, are there really any games that aren't targeted at geeks? Last t
  • by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:11PM (#6853693)
    Companies are concentrating on mass-appeal over fun. In the early 90's, a game was a huge hit if it sold 100,000 copies. Today, with numbers like that it would be considered a flop. Because of that, the newer games are dumbed-down to appeal more to the masses. Eye-Candy is considered more important than playability.

    It's the same situation in the board game industry. Everyone's played monopoly (which is a lousy game), but who here has even heard of Puerto Rico or Settlers of Catan which are two of the best games on the market now.

    ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]
    • by neglige ( 641101 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:21PM (#6853784)
      monopoly (which is a lousy game)
      No, sir, if you win, the game really rocks! ;)

      Settlers of Catan
      A nice game, really. And there are several (!) expansions available to make the game more fun.
    • by DaveJay ( 133437 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:22PM (#6853795)
      You make an excellent point here, and it really drives home the idea that Video Games are the new Movies.

      After all, who hasn't complained that good movies can't be profitable any more, and so the big blockbuster hits are really, really dumbed down? Video games might be headed in the same direction.

      How depressing.

      Oh, and mad props for mentioning Settlers of Catan, which is indeed one of the best games out there right now.

    • by El ( 94934 )
      In every industry, companies target the people they know will buy the product. Nobody wants to do the missionary sell to a new audience, because those who do frequently lose money. Why do the car manufacturers keep making and advertising the heck out of SUVs? Not because everybody wants one, but because thats what they make the most profit on! You expect the game industry to be any different? You expect them to blow several million dollars to develop a game on the off chance that it _might_ appeal to a new
  • by Tebriel ( 192168 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:11PM (#6853694)
    So games won't be fun unless they're designed to be fun? What will they realize next? Software won't be easy to use unless they put some thought into the interface.

    This is why older games are still popular, with less graphics and sound to work with, the hook had to be the game itself. You had to play it because you wanted to play it, not because it looked pretty.
  • Game play (Score:5, Informative)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:11PM (#6853695)
    And this is a surprise? Cripes. In 1986 I worked for some of the (then) major PC and arcade game companies. Even then, the focus was always on making the game as visually impressive as possible. That's fine, but somehow another important aspect of any game, playability, was lost in the shuffle. The programmers (I was one) and designers would complain about this regularly, but the response was usually something to the effect, "You can work on that while the game is in QC" or "Don't worry, you'll have a whole week before we ship to add playability." Utter cluelessness. And I see it in the current crop of video products: games using OpenGL and DirectX can be visually stunning, it's true, but most are simply not interesting to play after the first hour or two. Not a good return on your fifty dollar investment. Some of the older DOS-based texture-mapped products, such as Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Blood and others written using Ken Silverman's BUILD engine had more emphasis on game play. While those games didn't have the graphic quality of modern products rendered using 3D chipsets, they were just phenomenally fun to play. So I agree ... game makes have pretty much exhausted the sex appeal of the fancy graphical environment, now they better start focusing on why people play games: for FUN!
  • Obviously the mainstream market believes that video games are not fun enough. Therefore we must add more non-interactive FMV, stupid movie licenses, and other crap to make it fit their ideal of "fun". Excuse me while I go back to playing xevil...
  • Myst With Action (Score:3, Interesting)

    by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:12PM (#6853701)
    Just gimme a game with the backstory of Myst and the graphics and interactivity of Quake/Doom/Unreal. I want to explore, not pile up bodies.
  • by chia_monkey ( 593501 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:12PM (#6853702) Journal
    A load of crap I tell ya. Are you telling me punk music was always popular? Or swing? Or certain genres of movies? Hell no. Define "popular". Is it by revenue? I believe the gaming industry already makes more than the other two mentioned industries (don't quote me on that, plus I don't have my resources in front of me to point to). That seems pretty popular. I say it's only a matter of time. Soon every household will have at least one game system. That's not popular? The gaming industry will evolve, just as all other industries. Just give it time.
  • Games are still too difficult for a mass audience

    Hm... but please have a few games that are a bit more complex than "Deer Hunter". "Sims". Great game. Arguably rather complex. Played by many women and men.

    Oh, and how difficult is it to align a crosshair? Most FPS are not really all that difficult (easy to understand - not easy to master!)... not sure if they appeal to the masses, although the sales figures from HL or UT hint at that.

    But of course the article seems to focus on the XBox. I guess other
  • Obviously (Score:2, Interesting)

    These people have never played Frozen Bubble [frozen-bubble.org] or Nethack [nethack.org].

    I currently have a level 8 male gnomish wizard on Level 5 and 6 (I go back and forth, the last (and currently only) merchant is on 5). I'm kinda stuck on 6 because there are no secret doors to be found (searched the walls of every room four times over already) and now way further down.

    BTW, Nethack 3.4.2 [nethack.org] is out!
  • by DaveJay ( 133437 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:16PM (#6853740)
    Perhaps Ms Fryer meant 'easy and non-threatening' when she said "fun". Presumably, every developer is trying to make enjoyable games, but if the barrier to entry is too high (complex controls, steep learning curve) -- or appears to be high -- fewer people will take the time to play them, and so fewer will find out how much fun they (hopefully) are.

    Case in point: when I bought my GameCube, I bought some games that I thought my wife would like, and Tony Hawk 3 for me. I convinced her to play Tony Hawk (and it took a lot of convincing at first) and got her through the initial tricks, and now it's her favorite game, hands-down. She kicks my ass in it more days then not, too.

    If I hadn't been around to urge her to play, and if I hadn't helped her through the initial stages, she wouldn't be enjoying it now. That doesn't mean that she couldn't have figured it out on her own; it's just that she WOULDN'T have.

    • Yes... There's a real fine line in that statement she makes that "you want a game that is challenging but never frustrating."

      Any challenge becomes a frustration if you can't overcome it. And whether you do so depends on your basic proficiency, how immersed you are in the game world, whether you have a stick-to-it personality, etc. etc. For the hard core gamer, a game wouldn't be a game without some beat-your-head-against-the-wall apparent cul-de-sacs and that elation you feel when you finally bust throu

  • MacFoxes...

    Now THAT was a fun game...
  • by ErnstKompressor ( 193799 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:16PM (#6853745) Homepage
    I guess I have to scrap my 'Europe-during-the-black-plague-simulator."

  • by indulgenc ( 694929 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:18PM (#6853757)
    What about games that don't require bleeding edge technology to run?

    I to play video games, but I don't love having to upgrade my system every 2 months in order to play a new game. It seems like everytime a great new game is annouced, the recommended system specs seem to coincide with the latest processor and video cards released that week.

  • fun games (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oskillator ( 670034 )
    This sort of perspective is annoying to me. It's especially annoying to me when the writer says that games used to be fun, but now they're just hours of drudgework between cinematic cut scenes. You just know that this guy's only recent gaming experience has been on the X-Box.

    I may be biased here, but as I see it, the really fun games are still coming from the same guy they have been for the last 20 years: Shigeru Miyamoto.

    If you want fun games, games that aren't trying to be movies, pick up a Gamecube

  • by ChozCunningham ( 698051 ) <slashdot DOT org ... nningham DOT com> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:21PM (#6853779) Homepage
    I've often wondered why a 90 minute film or a 60 minute album could move me in ways a 3 day game-fest couldn't. I've longed for games that actually were stimulating and educational. Edu-tainment is a poisonous word to put on a piece of interactive software, but the exact same concepts sell other enetertainment mediums. David Byrne's Latin Jazz Compilations and Akira Kirasawa's Films both educate me on new visions and draw from events and styles existing already to entertain. Perhaps the coders could code, the graphic designers could do graphics and the developers need to develop the game, rather than oversee the technical..There are few "Directors" in the developer/designer position. The rest are juggling some premise with the needs of marketing and limits of hardware....

    Hell, even retarded Ahnold movies, like Terminator and The 6th Day, bring up relevent settings and illuminate moral questions? Only a handful of the finest games, like Romance of the 3 Kingdoms and Civ explore the awy the world works (worked) outside my limitied experience. Well, I guess Black and White was worth something; a failed game, but it brought that morality and consequences to the table, showing the strengths and weaknesses of each...

    Maybe if Warcraft had actually let me choose if the Palladin went bad, and made me struggle with the choice.

    The only place in gaming I've seen this sort of development is in the small brand traditional (pen& paper) RPG companies. But they have their own geek-factor by nature of the format.

  • come on now.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dnaSpyDir ( 167208 )

    "When people talk about 'it's only a game', they're cheapening the value of games. It trivialises the time people spend playing a game and time is the most precious thing people have."

    but it IS only a game, so why waste what precious little time we have on this mortal coil staring at some screen having our "adventures".

    "People need drama in their lives. Games fulfil emotional and mental needs that cannot be fulfilled any other way,"

    sure they do... like oh, i dunno... killing, raping, torture, and veh

  • How do you measure fun? You can't plug fun numbers in Excel and make pretty pie charts for executives to see! You can't track trends in fun! You can't follow the fun market! What in the hell are you talking about?

    All you need to do is find a popular movie, then make a video game based on a character or characters from the movie. So what if the game is not fun, it will still sell enough copies, based on its name alone, to make a profit! And that is what business is all about!

    Bill, MBA Student
  • Whether a game is no fun or not depends entirely on who you are. They want games to appeal to a mass market? Then they are going to have to dumb them down to the lowest common denomonator. God forbid games become as popular as music and movies...To do so they would have to be just as mundane.

    Computer games are about the only form of thinking man's entertainment left, unless one ventures out to the Big Blue Room. I like games that have good stories to them, puzzles, and a touch of wanton destruction...De
  • Popularity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EverDense ( 575518 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:27PM (#6853836) Homepage
    ChinoH81 writes "Video games are never going to be as popular as films or music unless the
    people who make them concentrate on making them fun, says a leading game expert."

    Never going to be as popular?
    Funny that the Games Industry makes WAY more money than the Hollywood.
    • Re:Popularity (Score:5, Informative)

      by scot4875 ( 542869 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @06:26PM (#6854312) Homepage
      This is just wrong. Lots of articles have mentioned how games make more money than Hollywood, but usually they're talking about a) the worldwide video game industry vs b) US box office sales. So we've got the entire video game industry vs one part of one market of the entire movie industry.

      Yeah, the video game industry has grown, but it's still nowhere near the size of the motion picture industry.

  • Goddamn! That's why my gaming company is failing! We need to focus on making the games fun! Holy Fucking Shit man, this is fresh! This is information I could've never fucking figured out ever!

    Here I am spending all this time making new levels and texture maps and special abilities with pixel shaders and shit. My goal when I was making these was to make the game less fun! I mean I'm totally dropping the fucking ball here, man! I just screwed the pooch and jumped the shark at once here. I mean seriou
  • From the article:
    The blunt message was delivered by Laura Fryer, director of the Xbox Advanced Technology Group, to a meeting of game developers in London.

    It's a Microsoft employee who said this stupid quote?! Finish her!

    All too easy...
  • by Genjurosan ( 601032 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:28PM (#6853852)
    I think one of the most interesting aspects of gaming today is the fact that we are dealing with a large number of game producers that are following the Hollywood business model. That being, game play is determined by what is proven to work moderately well and that appearances are everything. Everything that is, except money.

    Keep in mind that good game play usually requires code that allows for new and exciting physics, game play angles, modes, etc... What really makes a great game is diversity or elements and the ability to interface with these elements in such a manner that it doesn't clip the camera, crash the game, make it confusing for the player, etc... All these game play bonus items take R&D. These R&D items are then 'software' patented which in turn makes it more difficult for someone else to 'license' these for use in their game.

    So this leads me back to money. That fact is, 3D and texture artists are cheaper in the short term than a really kick ass programmer that can write code to make the cheesy models come alive in the game engine. Also, it costs SOOOO much more money to write your own game engine, which in turn leaves the game developers with little money at the mercy of what they could afford to license.

    The stereotype that games are for geeks is wrong if you ask me. I know many 'jocks' that play video games like they are going out of style. The thing is, they don't admit it or speak of it freely.

    So what's the problem with the game industry? I think it's the fact that female population of the earth doesn't play games nearly as much as the male population.

  • there's more money in them. If you have a casual gamer, they may buy one or two games a year- hardly enought to make up for the loss many companies take on the hardware. Your hardcore gamer will buy a ton of games, plus spend money on extra controllers, memory cards, online services like XBox live, ect. So it makes sense to concentrate on the hardcore gamers.

  • buried deep somewhere... but what I think is the problem is that games need to be written for a WIDER audience. the people that play the currently available games do think they're fun, otherwise they wouldn't play them. there are so many different type of games out there, that choosing something fun is the onus of the purchaser.

    Sony helped the market considerably, by openeing up the market of games to non-geeks. a lot of games out there are starting to appeal to those geeks girlfriends now. we've still got
  • Perhaps this woman just got done playing Tomb Raider?
  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:34PM (#6853909) Journal
    Video games are already MORE popular than movies, and neck-and-neck w. music. For the last couple of years, video-game sales has beaten movie box-office totals and are competing dollar-for-dollar with music sales

    figures for 2002 (US)

  • by jcsehak ( 559709 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:36PM (#6853918) Homepage
    Food sells better if you make it taste good, movies would be better if people just wrote good scripts, you can play the piano simply by banging on keys in the right order, and your nose'll stop bleeding if you just keep your finger out of there!
  • .....Video games need to be fun?

    How obvious does an idea need to be before we stop calling it a strategy? -Dilbert
  • by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:37PM (#6853927)
    I figure game development is in a stage of creativity right now somewhat akin to that of film in the 1940s. It needs time to evolve beyond that first blush of commercial success and acceptance.

    Some basic structures, or 'language' of the medium has been worked out now, and has proven to be popular with the masses as an accepted entertainment medium, especially ever since someone noticed that games revenue had outpaced that of the film industry. So naturally there is some rabid capitalism going on insofar as people know a few formulas that work... i.e.

    - the first person shooter
    - the role-playing game (which is generally not really roleplaying, but whatever)
    - the racer
    - the fight game
    - the simulators (and all derivations thereof)

    .. and so on. We can name them just like that. And yeah it gets pretty boring. (For instance I've pretty much given up on all FPS shooters until they do something different. They're all Quake to me.)

    I want a game like Memento. Or Jacob's Ladder. Or imagine some game that used one of those realtime 3D shaders like grayscale pencil-sketch throughout, in some kind of Poe-inspired adaptation... We will see these kinds of things someday but it'll take 'Directors' (do we still call them that?) to do daring things with the medium and push the boundaries of the game's narratives.

    Interactive storytelling is a real bitch to get your head around in any appreciable way. Currently I lean towards really open-ended titles like GTA as leading the way in that sort of gameplay, that tries new mixtures of nonlinear play with prescripted events. Or Molyneux's stuff - damn him for going all Xboxy on me - those guys are really thinking about new kinds of games.

  • Terrifying truth? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by semiazas ( 579031 )

    "When you make choices, it reveals something about yourself. People reveal who they really are when they can try things in a safe environment."

    If this is true, what do MMPRGs say about humanity? What scares me is remembering the days of logging into UO only to get gang banged by a series of roving PK bands, or even better, having my pockets picked clean of even the most trivial of items while waiting in line at the shop (bear in mind I haven't played UO since the first few months it went live but that do

  • Saturation? (Score:2, Insightful)

    I believe the missing "fun factor" in today's game is a result of a human symptom on saturation and choices. We have so many things to play these days we just take things for granted.

    Heck, I used to have basic TV with just 5 channels, I was doing fine. Now that I have over 100 channels, I can't find anything good to watch!! How weird is that.
  • Mwa ha ha (Score:5, Funny)

    by VAXGeek ( 3443 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:39PM (#6853938) Homepage
    You don't KNOW fun until you've done the same flipping kick move in Enter the Matrix 4,000 times or kicked the crap out of an agent for 20 minutes, only to have him get up and kill you.
  • Hard to meet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grasshoppah ( 319839 )
    "You want a game that is challenging but never frustrating," said Ms Fryer.

    Being a long time, hard core gamer the games I find easy are challenging or even frustrating to the majority of other game players. I feel as though I have wasted time and money if a game fails to challange me and forces me to make a concentrated effort to improve my play. Obviously this isn't what the masses are looking for. But in the long run I, and gamers like me, will buy more games. It seems that game developers know this and
  • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @05:41PM (#6853962) Homepage Journal
    Video games are never going to be as popular as films or music unless...

    Unless it's already happened [usnews.com]?

    The article also claims we need to fix perceptions the games are only for guys. Perhaps things could be improved, but we're doing pretty well, thanks [yahoo.com]. (The linked article scatters the good numbers all over, so here you go:)

    12% Female Under 18
    26% Female 18 and up
    21% Male.. Under 18
    38% Male.. 18 and up

    Given the that the majority of game players are adults, claims like "She urged game makers to come up with titles that would appeal to a hardcore 15-year-old gamer as well as someone older who just wants to have fun," are just silly.

    The quoted developer says "People don't focus on gameplay. Instead they make a beautiful game that is no fun." True to an extent, but the die-hard players are usually the most ruthless in demanding fun. A bad but beautiful game will get blacklisted by the dedicated gamers while truly innovative games can build up a cult following even without marketting.

    The industry has problems, but it's improving all by itself. This is a silly article worrying over nothing.

  • by raytracer ( 51035 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @06:28PM (#6854323)

    I'm always faintly amused when an "expert" takes the time out his/her busy schedule to tell us something so obvious and/or useless.

    In the practical matters, video games are already on a par with television and Hollywood. Major game releases can expect to have revenues which approach those of major feature films. In their target demographic (teenage and older males) they are already occupying a greater portion of their conciousness than other media. To argue that they aren't going to be as popular as films is pointless: they already are.

    But what really seems silly to me is the following quote:

    She told her audience that games had the potential to change people's lives, offering them the chance to experience a wide range of emotions in a safe environment.
    To this I would merely counter with a question: "What movie have you seen recently that changed your life?" C'mon, let's get real. Even if movies do have that power, most of them fall way short of that standard, and yet they remain popular and engaging. Frankly, I don't need movies to tell me how to feel, or to teach me about myself: I have a real life with real family and real experiences to teach me that.

    But what I do not have is the ability to pilot a light-speed fighter against impossible odds!

    It's not exactly earth-shattering to claim that games should be better. They should be. It doesn't take an expert to observe that video gaming still remains a male-dominated activity. But the simple fact is that video games and movies have made a pretty good living out of catering to their audience, and it seems strange to argue that some revolution needs to occur before it will really take off.

  • Oh, wait... (Score:3, Funny)

    by vudufixit ( 581911 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @06:33PM (#6854364)
    "Making games fun?" So I *wasn't* having fun playing games all of those years since I got an Atari 2600! I'll tell my parents to take back every yelling they gave me for not doing my homework and "having fun" instead.
  • by DdJ ( 10790 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @06:35PM (#6854375) Homepage Journal
    I don't actually agree that games should be challenging.

    They should seem challenging, without actually having to be challenging.

    A drooling moron with no motor skills should be able to beat a game. But whenever anybody beats it, it should feel to them like it took skill, like they accomplished something.

    You need to create the illusion that the game is challenging, but without denying the rewarding experience of overcoming the challenge to any of your players.

    If a game is too hard for me, I'll get frustrated with it and won't play it. If a game seems too easy for me, I'll get bored with it and won't play it. But if I beat every challenge and don't realize that there's almost no way to lose, I'll have fun.

    This is my opinion regarding computer games, D&D, card games, pretty much any game. Everyone should be able to have fun playing. Everyone should have the illusion that they just barely had enough skill to win.

    (I think Warcraft 3 probably nails this perfectly. It felt to me like I only overcame it through skill. But personally, I totally suck at RTS games -- I mostly just have fun pushing the buttons and watching the little blinkenlights. However, all sorts of people who are more skilled than me at RTS games also enjoyed it. I conclude that they must have gotten the illusion down right.)
  • by YllabianBitPipe ( 647462 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @06:53PM (#6854475)

    What does this mean, games are no fun? Gee, then I must be having a miserable time and not even knowing it. If a person can't find a game that's fun, I dare say there's something wrong with them and not the gaming industry. First of all, they're probably not looking very hard for a game they would like. Second, they have some stereotype about what games are, leading them to just write them all off as something they're not into.

    Of course, there is a large demographic of people who are simply never going to get into a video game. But I would dare say these are the same technophobes that are frightened of computers in general. The people for whom checking email is a chore they can't deal with on a regular basis. And these people are by and large, older people who aren't going to be in the picture in thirty years. The younger generation is overwhelmingly into technology and computer games.

    And I've even seen exceptions to these situations. My mother never got into Street Fighter or Doom but played quite a bit of Mario, Tetris and Final Fantasy. These games are not too complex. I would even say a strategy game like WarCraft is not any more complicated than learning how to crochet. My GF who totally hates most modern games loves playing older videogames like Frogger and Galaxian via MAME. And if someone's a total stick in the mud why not boot up a video game version of Scrabble or Chess on the computer? Does anybody here hate Chess?!? It's just a difference of what people choose to spend their time figuring something out. And nobody would be trying to learn how to play more complex games if it weren't fun. Maybe that's part of the fun!

    The game that I think has had the most mainstream appeal in the past few years is definitely the Sims. There were women at work who played this game, and would talk about their Sims as if they were family members. It is true that the most mainstream games to cross all demographic boundaries have been the more simple, straightforward, maximum "fun" games. Like Myst, PacMan, Tetris, Mario, Sims. These games are harder to come by and probably only come about every few years or so. But their abscene right now at this moment in time does not mean all other games are no fun, nor does it mean there won't be another mainstream game right around the corner.

  • So true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherReader ( 470464 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @08:14PM (#6854873)
    I use to work for the company Software Sorcery. One of our early titles was "Sea Rogue" A simple little game that was a blast to play.

    Then came Jutland, a WW1 navy simulation. It was much more intense and beautiful. It had streaming video cut scenes, awesome graphics (for the time) and complex game play. But was it fun? Well, unless you knew the cheat code to show the proper the angle of your guns it was a lesson in frustration. Great looking game that was almost impossible to win.

    Next was Aegis: Guardian of the Fleet. This was a serious game. It simulated an entire Aegis class battle cruiser in modern day warfare. It tended to be long and boring. Again, lots of detail and great graphics, but terrible game play. Not fun.

    Fast Attack was another beautiful looking game with tons of detail and gameplay that closely followed the targeting and tracking routines of a real Fast Attack submaringe. But was it fun? Well, maybe if you're a navy simulatin buff. But I got the game for free and could play test it while I worked tech support and I wouldn't even finish it. Boring and impossibly complex to play.

    Then came Conqueror 1086 (which we use to refer to as Conqueror 1286, Conqueror 1386, Conqueror Pentium!) The graphics were still good, but they put much more work into the gameplay and story line. And guess what? It was fun to play. I wish we wrote better code to control the game speed. It's impossible to play on today's fast computers. The screens scroll by so fast that you can't controll it. Too bad, it's a great game.

    Now we have games like Uplink that have almost no graphics to speak of and yet are really fun to play. Do you see a trend here? The 3D graphics and surround sound do not make a game fun. The STORY makes a game fun, the GAMEPLAY makes a game fun. You'd think this wouldn't be news by now, but people are still surprised to learn that lesson.

  • ok let me translate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Edmund Blackadder ( 559735 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @10:40PM (#6855735)
    the article basicly means : make games stupid so every one can start playing them.

    I dont think that will work because: I differ from your average entertainment industry exec. i dont think that most people are that stupid after all. Also i am pretty damn sure that if all games are stupid i will stop playing them.

    Of course we should all know that the nice Xbox people do not want to make games popular in order to improve peoples lives. They just want to make money. Which is perfectly ok, but they should try to make money by giving people what they want.

    What entertainment company execs essentially want for video games is the television model. That means a couple of games that everyone plays, so development cost can be spread out and most of the $50 price can come in as profit.

    And of course in order for that model to work you have to sink to the lowest common denominator. So essentially you have to make the game stupid.

    Luckily the television model will never again work (cross fingers). It worked until recently, because people had very few other sources of easy brain stimulation (especially when they are tired from work and are too tired to read). So they settled TV no matter how stupid it was.

    Of course the large entertainment companies can make video games liked by most people. But dumbing down games wont do it. All they have to do is make a system where creative people are able to think up new and exciting games that can potentially interest different people.

    That is already happening to certain extent. Witness all the bass fishing and deerhunting games. God knows i have never wanted to play one, but i hear they are popular and with people that are not really computer nerds.

    Unfortunately the entertainment companies are doing the opposite. The kep bying up developers and then gutting development budgets for all games other than a couple of already established "money maker" titles. Well they can never expect to get new clients this way.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie