imageYahtzee: I don't think you could say by any stretch of the imagination that the Guitar Hero controller is not a 'button controller'. But I get the point that there are some games that are enhanced by a motion control. It's just I've never seen anyone get as lost in Wii Tennis for hours like I do in, say, Silent Hill 2.

The point I suppose we dance around here is that gaming is multifaceted enough that it can cater for a wide range of people with varying ideas of entertainment. Motion controls are akin to playing cricket on the beach with your family at Christmas (in Australia, that is, southern hemisphere lovely weather year round ha ha), while a game like SH2 controlled with button controllers from a prone, inactive, sofa slump position is more like settling down to read a good book. I prefer the latter, and motion controls will never improve that experience. It just won't.

Anyway.

Yes, controllers are complicated enough now that they make it harder for potential new gamers to get into. You can observe this at any time by sitting your mother or spouse or other total non-gamer in front of GTA4 and seeing how well they do. Generally it's a surprise if they can manage to walk down the street without staring at the floor and blowing their own nuts off. Hell, I remember when I first tried using console controllers, having previously gamed on C64, Amiga and PC with joystick, mouse and keyboard, I was tying my thumbs up in knots. Navigating an avatar in 3D space would be disorienting at first even with the world's most intuitive controller.

It could be that this is detrimental and alienates non-gamers, but one could also argue that books alienate people who can't read. Gaming is such a common pastime for young people these days that once the generations above us die off then people who don't game and can't fathom controllers will almost certainly be in a minority. Eventually the ability to game could be just another skill kids have to gather as part of their cultural development, along with reading, telling the time, using the internet, etc. It's a skill that crosses over to the working of vehicles and the many wondrous gadgets of this modern future age. GTA4 was the biggest release of any form of media ever. Gaming is the biggest entertainment industry in the world. It's not in the kind of dire straits that it needs to kowtow to whoever can't keep up. It's your loss if you don't want to take the time to learn, Grandad.

imageMovieBob: Well, yeah... okay, it's a button controller. My point was more that Guitar Hero is more (only?) fun because you get to play it with a silly toy instrument, but you've got me there ;)

I hear you on the "getting lost in _____" thing, though if I may offer a counterpoint: Is it really "fitting" for that level of immersion to be part of the baseline criteria for evaluating a game's worth? I'm not necessarily suggesting YOU'RE doing so, but it IS something I see cropping up in game criticism that's been gnawing at me. We - well, you (Yahtzee) and I anyway, I don't believe James has weighed in on this point specifically - tend to regard it as such because that's how we've generally played games; initially with the torturous memorization-is-the-only-way difficulty curve of the arcades and early-80s PC/Console titles, then the 16 to 64 bit collect-a-thons and now the DLC=immortality era. But if "how much of my life does it consume" is the ultimate criteria, then WE'RE all lightweights and those nuts who let their kids starve to death because they're busy in Farmville are the most "hardcore" gamers who've ever lived...

In any case, true enough i.e. books being alienating to the illiterate; but there's one key difference: There are multiple "reading levels" of books out there, and an OCEAN of materials specifically designed to teach one how to read. Games? Not so much. Even the tutorial mode of most "hardcore" games assumes one is already familiar with the last few years of whatever the genre is, and God forbid the Tutorial isn't 100% skippable or "hardcore" gamers are garaunteed to pitch a fit about it - as though it's inconcievable that people without their specific prior experience might want to play, too. Heck, even if newcomers WANTED to play previous installments and "catch up" they usually can't if they came out on a prior defunct console. This is different from, say, film-fandom where you could basically take yourself to filmschool by going to Blockbuster (or Netflix, now.) Right now, it's both easier and slightly less-expensive to familiarize oneself with comic-book continuity than it is with game-to-game continuity... and that's just sad.

That last part, incidentally, is something I think we'll see the end of once physical media has given way fully to gaming-on-demand - once "all of this" is in The Cloud, there'll be no reason for companies NOT to put their back-catalogues online and rake in the microtransaction cash. That'll be a win-win: Newcomers will have, say, GTA 1 through whatever to take a swing at before they dive into the newest one, and hardcores will benefit from developers being less able to re-press the same game as a "sequel" when the last one is sitting right there online.

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