As I continue to advocate for the positive aspects of video gaming and fresh from my rant to Roger Ebert’s “Video games can never be art” blog post, I realize how many intelligent, influential but ignorant individuals are really unaware of the work that designers put into interactive media and its ability to create moods, inspire growth and enrich one’s experiences. Maybe, someday, they’ll catch on but until then, I’ll continue with more features.
In order to be fully immersed in interactive experiences, users are taken away from their normal circumstances to exotic locales to accomplish remarkable feats. Within those experiences, if users are unable to pick up a reasonably sized box, watch as characters without phase shifting abilities pass through walls or enemies that don’t react to clear visual threats, the illusion of adventure is shattered and may discourage further play. Natural circumstances convincing and dynamic to maintain the suspension of disbelief includes:
- Climate and weather as visible environmental changes,
- Environments and exploration providing a sense of vastness,
- Equipment to manipulate and modify to achieve goals
- Biologic processes as appearance of organic growth
- Mechanical processes as display of non-organic change
- Day and night cycles
- Artificial intelligence in life forms
- Navigation and mapping and
- Physics modeling as realistic actions and reactions between objects in the environment.
Video game input controls have evolved a great deal since the advent of joysticks and joy pads. Kinetic learners absorb information by doing and are inclined toward athletic and physical pursuits and prefer first person perspectives, fighting and action games and sports simulations. The entertainment industry is now recognizing the market for motion controllers by getting consumers off the couch into the games. To this point, a glut of hardware and software merchandise has been hastily designed and foisted onto consumers hungry for new products. It is time for hardware to be rated as well. Action features include:
- Fine and gross motor skills which improve play or development,
- Balance, coordination, dexterity, endurance, precision and speed,
- Range of inputs including mice, keyboards, joy pads, flight sticks, light guns, etc.,
- Displays of physicality as exhibitions of athleticism or acrobatics,
- Feedback such as rumble effects and
- Input fidelity as the game interface simulates realistic actions.
Many of my league bowling friends have reported markedly improved play after quality spent at the Wii Sports Resort.
Much of the controversial aspects of media interactivity relates to social functioning. These include:
- Competitive and cooperative play dynamics,
- Networking as a function of interacting with others in the same room or on the other side of the world,
- Attribute or trait options providing the ability to personalize characters’ appearance and behavior,
- Range of interactions between virtual characters, as well as opportunities for interactions such as voice chat and Avatars/virtual selves to recreate oneself or others in the experience and
- Web cam and voice chat options for audio and visual communication.
Figuring things out is at the core of gaming. Media content can exercise the gray matter like no other media through:
- Strategic depth or tactical methods used to improve success,
- Cause and effect or choice and consequence dynamics that influence game play,
- Economics or financial modeling,
- Puzzles or brain teasers that support the experience,
- Character classes and
- Moral dilemmas providing weight to game decisions.
One can find many opportunities for self-exploration and expression in interactive media. These include:
- Character depth and identification with iconic personalities,
- Character growth and development,
- Historical simulation as you try to influence the past and
- Sandbox options to utilize developers’ tools to modify or create content and new game experiences.
I’d appreciate you taking a minute to respond to my poll. Next up, I rate and review Just Cause 2 with my slant on judging and evaluating interactive media content. And yes, that was the sound of a tree falling.