Going Gold

Going Gold: Gaming Doublespeak

Christian Ward | 13 Jan 2010 21:00
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Going back to Heavy Rain for a moment (you may be detecting a theme here), look at how many so-called "gamers" are immediately dismissing it as a QTE-fest, a modern Dragon's Lair, or so on without having so much as picked up a trailer. Oh my god! It doesn't look and play exactly like everything I'm already playing! Kill it with fire!

The same fate befalls Wii Fit or indeed anything with a new control scheme; even the most vaguely ambitious of titles like Okami or Beyond Good and Evil are ignored by the "hardcore" for their perceived differences. Perhaps, if our actual definition of "core" means anything at all, it's an easy mass-market audience, the type of person you would market a Michael Bay movie or an American Idol winner to in other forms of media.

Again, why should anybody actually care about this? Because the terrifying thing is this is actually how games get made. Comments on message boards are used on proposal documents. Focus testers call in these kinds of gamers in early development periods and publishers actually put their opinions into the game. Has nobody in this industry ever heard that the empty can rattles the most?

(For more information, see entry for "Casual", below)

Casual

You might think it means... "People who play only Brain Age and FarmVille."

It actually means... "The average consumer."

If there's been one consistent trend in the last five years of gaming, it's that people really have an affinity for games. With the rise of the Wii and DS, World of Warcraft's terrifying popularity, and the recent mass-market adoption of FarmVille and other browser games, it's clear that people everywhere want to play games and will do so when given something in which they are interested. Gaming has value to people.

Amazingly for our industry, we find this a problem. Everyone who is not in the true definition of "hardcore" (see above) is looked down on as a "casual", unwilling or incapable of understanding the true brilliance of having twelve-year-olds insult you while they are teabagging your virtual corpse. When all available evidence points to the overwhelming desire of ordinary people everywhere to play videogames, we as an industry continue to retreat into our shell and make some more "safe" shooting, racing and killing games, helpless to understand what these scary new people want or how to make them go away.

Our only solution to this is to convince ourselves that these people are "casuals" - the very name implying some lack of commitment! - who will not be around for long. They'll be gone once the wind changes direction. Best not to risk it.

This is only true to the extent that most normal people are not bound to the same idiotic hardware loyalty as we gamers are. Put it this way: five years ago, I was using Opera to browse the Internet. Four years ago, I was using Firefox, and now I'm using Chrome. The important thing is that I'm still using the Internet. In just the same way, these "casuals" are gaming on the DS one day, Facebook the next, the iPhone the day after that. They haven't actually gone anywhere. In fact, they are everywhere, because they are regular people. Remember when we used to sell games to people like that?

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