Friday, 13 April 2012

Elements of Game Technology, part three: interaction design

I have been more of a console gamer all my life and, like my dad, have always been looking for change and improvements in the gaming world having experienced it all. In my previous blog during my first year of uni I said how I have been through all the old time console up to the newer generations and innovations so I’ll explain a little bit of how I reacted to change in game interaction.

With growing technology and intricate programming, things were bound to change as gaming became more mainstream and started to appeal to the average audience rather than computer loving techies. Somebody somewhere knew it was going to be a catch to the public and we see the birth of commercial gaming entertainment. I think back to the very first Nintendo, where there was no thought to jazz up its looks. You have a simple box with a simple blocky controller providing up, down, left, right controls, a start and select then you’re A and B action buttons. Playing games were simple and most were side scrollers in which you jump up, move left and right along a 2d plane and jump or shoot your way through obstacles, surviving on health bars or power ups. Mario and sonic are easy examples. You would also have top down games where you move or drive in any direction to give a more free movement feel but this was the only limit to what these games could do.

Computer and technology improved and more people began to show interest in games for entertainment but wanted something new. In came the next generation of consoles, super nes, megadrive containing more buttons and more programming for more detailed interaction, the kind to actually get you hooked and the kind that made games last longer. Zelda is an example of better interaction and freedom of choice within a game, trapping you until the find the right way to get from point A to B.

Then 3D graphics was introduced allowing fully explorable levels meaning an addition of analog sticks, to introduce smoother free movement, save games as opposed to passwords so you can develop your progress, become stronger and pick up where you left off. PlayStation, N64 and Sega Saturn introduced this. We saw totally new innovations of strong running franchises such as 3D Mario and so on and they worked and fans stayed loyal.

When we see the newer generations, it all looks sexy and streamlined like the future but controls are kept to simple standards while further adding extra buttons and types of detailed gameplay. However, as competitive multiplayer and online features were introduced, hardcore gamers developed and wanted to be unique and have a vast array of abilities as opposed to somebody else so developers allowed this and no one player is the same. You can play games in different ways, take preferred routes and decisions and fans want to spend more time and explore and dissect the many aspects of the game. Games to simple and too linear are now looked down upon and expectations are higher. There is the whole hardcore gamers being disappointed with games and innovations nowadays that appeal to casual or younger gamers but I say they are whinging.

Arcades introduced exiting realistic ways to play games like, Time Crisis and House of the Dead point and shoot em ups, side to side steering motorcycle games, wheel and pedal driving games, leg and foot coordination dance games and kick the ball into the goal football games. The idea to bring that all home instead of days out made games even more exciting when we now see home driving kits, guitar and drum game kits, motion and point to shoot interaction. Even touch and motion on handhelds was an exciting concept and Nintendo in particular have excelled with it all.

What I am getting at basically is the fact that game interactions are mimicking real life actions and events some of us will not be able to achieve in the real world. People perhaps get that sense of power that they could do things like fly an aircraft gunner or run a city with hardly any effort or qualifications. Now we see games on bigger screens, with better sounds, in 3D popping out at us, which we can talk to and wave our hands about for them to respond and we have a choice to do what we want, how we want in games and that is what is keeping us going. Only question is, when will it reach its limit? I think we are a long shot from figuring that out really. I hope!

1 comment:

  1. hi..Im student from Informatics engineering, this article is very informative, thanks for sharing :)