Monday, June 28, 2010

An Addendum

After the previous post I had a discussion with a friend and felt the need to clarify certain issues. In regards to Nintendo's "casual" gaming versus the "hardcore" FPS scene: GrandPa doesn't get Kirby. GrandPa does get sighting down a barrel and shooting bad guys in the head.

I think that we, as gamers, should consider things from a more detached viewpoint whenever we talk about whether a game is intuitive. A non-gamer can quickly grasp the concept of "pick up gun, shoot target" without having to experiment too much or refer to a manual. The moment you say that experimentation is part of the experience, you have ceased to be either a casual or non-gamer. In all seriousness, go find the old manual for the NES version of Super Mario Bros. That whole thing reads like a drug fueled fever dream, doesn't it. Grab the mushroom to grow large, grab the flower to shoot fire. And you lose them if a turtle catches you. You can talk about imagination and creativity, but we were supposed to be talking about casual gamers. Does the casual gamer have the interest in gaming necessary to embrace the elaborate fantasy logic at work here?

Back in high school we used to joke that Mario games were full of hidden drug references. I still like that fan film that depicted Mario as a 'shroom addict living with his abused girlfriend, Peach. Meanwhile, Luigi had quit the 'shrooms, married Daisy, and gotten a job. But yeah, we gamers are used to game logic. For us, it's not a huge intuitive leap to accept that crashing your airplane into a giant, floating "P" will somehow make your guns bigger. We're not terribly weirded out by the idea of gaining a cape by grabbing a feather, then riding a dinosaur that eats mushrooms, fish, and turtles. And the cape lets you fly. We're cool with that, but then again we're gamers. This is the kind of weirdness that scares off the normals. This is why games like Kid Icarus are, in truth, hardcore games. This is the kind of game that tries to keep gaming an exclusive club. This doesn't bring in the non-gamer, it confuses them. Some of us, GameOverthinker I'm looking at you, have been playing games for over 20 years now. We get this stuff. But GrandPa only started playing games when we got him that Wii. And GrandPa doesn't understand why his magic sword shoots lasers while his health is full. So for his sake we're switching out the magic sword for a rifle. GrandPa gets that. Because GrandPa isn't a gamer.

No comments: