The 21st annual
Game Developer’s Conference begins soon.
That reminded me of an article I read about a year ago, on an
First, read this article:
GDC Dilemma: Luring the Non-Gamer
By Susan Arendt
12:30 PM Mar, 09, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO --
As the 20th annual Game Developers Conference wrapped up here Friday, programmers
and designers took home with them the daunting puzzle of how to win over a
target demographic crucial to the industry's ongoing success. And guess what?
It's not you.
It's your mom,
your little brother, your girlfriend -- anyone you know who would never dream
of calling themselves a "gamer," but who, if properly motivated,
would happily spend time -- and money -- playing games just the same.
Developers who never really concerned themselves with expanding beyond their
core audience are now realizing their very survival may depend on wooing
consumers who've never held a controller in their lives.
designer Warren Spector broke it down during his Wednesday afternoon
presentation on storytelling-in-gaming: As games get more and more expensive to
produce, any company that can't crank out a blockbuster is in serious jeopardy,
and counting on significant sales volume from the core audience is a risk that
developers can no longer afford to take. His suggestion for luring a new
segment of players was, not surprisingly, to tell better stories.
can be key to reaching non-gamers," he said, "but they have to be
emotionally satisfying and truly interactive."
The problem, as
Spector sees it, is that too much of a typical game's budget goes to flash --
graphics and physics, for example -- which have next to no appeal for the
typical non-gamer. That doesn't leave enough money for those elements that
would matter to a larger audience, like believable characters or realistic
The success of
the Nintendo DS and Wii is due in no small part to the company's dedication to
the "expanded audience," as Shigeru Miyamoto, the company's top game
designer, pointed out in his keynote on Thursday morning.
his point, he referenced his "Wife-o-Meter," his way of judging a
game's potential appeal by getting his wife to play it. If developers want to
expand their audience, Miyamoto said, the one thing they should consider when
designing their game is "How fun it is for people who don't play
Software's David Amor knows all about the power of what he refers to as the
"other 90 percent," a number he admittedly pulled out of thin air to
represent the chunk of the populace that doesn't consider game playing an
important part of their lives. His game, Buzz,
a simple Jeopardy-type quiz game that comes packaged with four buzzer
controllers, has sold in numbers that would make any developer salivate.
More than a year
after its release, Buzz
is still selling at full price, a rarity in a market that usually sees a
title's price slashed just a few weeks after its initial release. In a
presentation on Wednesday, Amor was direct with his audience that they needed
to change their attitudes about playing to the non-gaming market.
types of games are considered very unsexy by the industry," Amor said.
"But these games are more important than Gears of War. These are the games your
girlfriend buys and starts to play."
And now, for the discussion topic…
Our article for
this week brought our attention to video games. Specifically, we read about the
desire of game developers to widen their reach to include new audiences,
specifically girls and women. I know that some in our class are avid gamers,
while others don't play them very often. That leads us to the Question of the
Dr Klatt has
talked to me about the Sim game called Second
Life. In the Second Life game, you can buy, say, clothes for your avatar
(look up that word) at Urban Outfitters, and they will ship you that outfit IN
REAL LIFE!!! You can read books, listen to music, talk to politicians inside
this game. (Trust me, it's huge.) With that in mind, our question: What is the
future of video games? How will we "play" video games in the future?
Will they be a part of our lives? How can schools benefit from from role-playing
games such as Second Life?
Will I be out of
a job in a few years?