Accessability 2

A lot of core gamers and core game developers are, more or less, opposing accessibility design for the reasons that making a game accessible "dumbs down" the game or "makes the game shallow".  Players and developers pushing for accessible games claim that this is not the case. Well let's just set the record straight with some quick analysis: Accessability does dumb down gameplay and does make games more shallow.  But, this is only true for a very small part of the target demographic. This is only true for the power- or core-gamers that fully learn the micro strategies of playing a game and then use that knowledge to play on a macro strategic level. For these players games will become to simple or shallow and certainly dumbed down if we make the games more accessible.

But how many are the core gamers? We have absolutely no idea. But paying core gamers we do know. Very few games, ever, have sold more then 10 million units. But games aimed at the hardcore crowds do tend to sell close to ten million (close in the millions that is, Halo 3 sold 7 million I believe). That means that there are about 10 million core players that really don't need more accessible games. Doesn't that make accessability pointless? No. Certainly not.

How many paying players are there? We don't have a clue. What we do know is that the previous generation of home consoles (dominated by the PS2) sold over 200million units. Even if every single gamer bought two consoles that still 100million home consoles... On the handheld side the GBA sold about that many units alone. So for every core gamer there are about 10 less then core gamers actively paying for consoles and games, maybe just not as much.

This is the crowd that developers are aiming for when they're focusing on accessibility. This does not mean that all games should be accessible. After all, selling 10 million units of a game is plenty. But selling hardcore multiplayer shooters alone as the industry is doing today is simply incredibly stupid from an economical perspective. No wonder the Wii is selling so well, what else are these gamers playing? Online games some of them for sure (like the 11 million current subscribers to World of Warcraft).

So have no illusions, games are a low entry entertainment. Most gamers don't want to learn how to play a game. They don't want to compete or be the best. They simply want to play. Sound odd? Think about why PvE is more popular then PvP in MMO's or why Multiplayer didn't explode before the instant respawn became standard or why coop shooters are doing better then deathmatch shooters.

Next time I write about accessibility I'll adress what low entry entertainment really is and how to focus on it.

Duke Nukem or Prostitution games?

According to Kotakuit seems like Duke Nukem Forever will actually launch. This year. Seriously.
Wouldn't it be awesome if this game launched, sold 10 million copies and was the best shooter ever? Every publisher would have to rethink their strategies and developers worldwide would be stunned.

A friend of mine was very recently made Junior Game Designer at Avalanche, I was talking to him today when he mentioned a discussion he was having on games about difficult subjects. Really difficult. He was playing with the idea of creating a game about prostitution or pedophilia. He was struggling with the problem that he's learned that games are supposed to be fun. And making prostitution or pedophilia fun might not be everyones cup of tea.

I've been having thoughts about this for some time and I think that Raph Koster seems to be on the same track as me. Games don't need to be fun. Most games on the market aren't fun, think about gears of war or Mass Effect. They aren't fun, they are entertaining for sure, but not fun exactly.
Maybe it's because we still use the name games that we've narrowed our scope to just fun, maybe we should call it interactive entertainment instead. The term sums up our industry a lot better, Brain training is not fun, but it is entertaining.
Games, or interactive entertainment, should be engaging.

And nothing is stopping the most heinous acts from becoming engaging, give a player a perfect control and the order to perform a gruesome act they will quite possibly do it. But they will quite possibly also experience completely different feelings than fun. Hopefully at least.
But to let this happen we need to let go of all the bells and whistles we are using to create fun today. Maybe rape should not be awarded with points. Maybe it shouldn't be awarded at all. But should we shy away from letting the player do it? Certainly not. We are after all, trying to engage peoples feelings and thoughts through our art, and they must perform the actions.

This is interactive entertainment after all!