Learning new ways to play vs. being taught a new way

Over at the IGDA web site, Matthew Sakey has written an interesting column, Reality Panic. In it he discusses the fact that when people were play testing Deus Ex: Invisible War,

At one point, testers approached a T intersection: to the right were laser tripwires and gun turrets; to the left was a locked door; and directly in front was a (usable) window. He said every single one of them, without fail, went to the right. One can imagine how frustrated developers must occasionally get when they watch gamers consistently employ Neolithic problem solving tactics when modern development tools make much more advanced techniques available.

The column makes a strong argument that the dominant paradigm of gameplay is changing. More and more things are possible, but we have been trained to think in narrow ways when playing games. We have been taught in a million little ways that the door can’t be opened and the window is a dead end. But that is no longer the case. Technology has progressed and allowed for more possibilities.

The problem is, no one told us that. As Sakey correctly points out, game designers need to reteach us. We can learn that the rules have changed on our own, but it will be much more effective, and much more satisfying if the game teaches us that the there are new possibilities open to us.

To take this farther though, I wonder if it might be possible that ten years from now, when we look back at the games where there were fewer possibilities and reminisce about how great they were just like we now reminisce about the simplicity of games like Pac-Man. Will we look at Quake and say that it was more fun, a better game because we didn’t have to worry about ragdoll physics and being able to find our own path?

I’m sure we will. I can’t wait until we get the “id classics tv games” that we hook up to our HDTV’s.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.