Geek culture

This is a repost of a earlier blog from a previous system.

Ever get the feeling that game developers are geeks? “Duh!” right? Well, I’m a game developer, I’m not a geek, and I am seriously starting to wonder how much the geek culture is holding back gaming.

Woke up this morning and thought about every single console game I have ever finished, they aren’t many, and you know what? I used a walk through every time… Every time?!?!

Yep, I haven’t completed a single console game on my own. I have finished a lot of PC games though.

But this got me thinking, now I am not really a hardcore gamer. But in the eyes of my very casual gamer friends I am super hardcore. I’ve played video games since I was six, as an adult I even work with video games, doesn’t get much more hardcore. So why haven’t I even finished a console game? The answer took eluded me for some time, but after a bowl of cellulose “stay-fit flakes” I asked my non-gamer girlfriend and to her the answer was obvious; they’re too hard.

But I’m a game developer! And I’ve played video games for fifteen years! Her answer was a little too shocking for me to bear. But after a few minutes the idea didn’t sound that absurd at all.

So what if games are too hard for me? What does this have to do with geek culture? Well think about whom the geeks are; almost by definition the players who adhere to geek culture are the hardcore gamers. These people don’t mess around, they break games faster then I heat a microwave pizza. These are the people who want games that offer them challenges that they have a hard time overcoming.

This means that because games are catering to the geek culture games are hard as hell. But guess why I play games with a walkthrough? I find most games challenging enough anyway, I want to experience a game. I don’t want to grind it to death to finish it (the story in FF12 seems to be good, it’s just too bad I will NEVER have enough time to grind for 100+ hours…) I just want to play.

Wake up developers! If we continue to cater to the geek culture, we will get amazingly hard games with incestuous internal logic guaranteed to turn off all casual and non gamers.

Look at the market right now, income for every major publishing house is up. But so are the prices, only Nintendo seems to be able to increase the amount of actual players, and they are really doing a poor job at supplying games for them.

Our market will crash if we don’t embrace games as a sport and as an art. Developers should know better.

The first step in doing this; don’t force players to assume geek culture just to play your game! Keep them simple, allow gamers to choose how hard the challenge is, and for gods sake don’t make the controls harder then they need to be.

2 thoughts on “Geek culture

  1. Well, you’re not wrong. But I think the problem is of a more curious nature, namely this: Designers design games that they themselves want to play. Following your chain of logics designers are themselves geeks, hence the geekyness of the games. Catch 22 anyone?To prove my point, just look at the subjectmatter of most RTS – Sci-fi or Fantasy – not exactly popculture.I think the real challenge for designers is: What subject matter appeals to nongeeks? and Can we make the challange flexible enough for both casual and hardcore players to enjoy?

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  2. I think you’re on to something here.Just look at the big “party”games, singstar and guitar hero. really easy to understand and not that hard to play, and sometimes to be bad is the fun of those games.

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