Dice vs D-Pad

Dice vs D-Pad

Gamers are slowly realizing what tabletop enthusiasts realized decades ago: There are all kinds of players with wildly different preferences, and there's no one experience that can hope to please them all.

Read Full Article

I loved this article. I'm choosing to comment here rather than on the blog, Heavens know why (I'm Julian on your blog comments)
I completely agree on dividing gamers by their motivations. Instead of making a game for the "casual", like Puzzle Quest, and the new Prince of Persia (which is, in my opinion, the perfect game for a new gamer), you make games for the Party Gamers, the Adventurous gamer, the Story-driven gamer, etc.

Good read. A pet peeve of mine is that with metacritic the industry makes games for the tastes of reviewers but I'm not a games reviewer at all. I just buy the things.

Well, there is Chris Bateman's esoteric system of of agon, ilinx, ludus, etc., but clearly that hasn't become common industry vocabulary (yet?). It is a step toward developing an electronic gaming industry version of GNS, though.

"Contrast this with how videogamers are divided up: Hardcore. Mainstream. Casual. So instead of identifying players by what they look for in gaming, we end up sorting players by how much they play or how skilled they are."

An excellent point. Although many of us do get as far as distinguishing tastes in genre which is slightly more in depth, it takes a fairly lengthy conversation to extract actual information on a persons particular tastes. I know my friends' tastes merely because I've played with them so long, but I am still surprised sometimes by things that I thought I would have known about them. Not so with the tabletop RPGs we play.

More Fun To Compute:
Good read. A pet peeve of mine is that with metacritic the industry makes games for the tastes of reviewers but I'm not a games reviewer at all. I just buy the things.

I spew this at everyone I meet who brings up review scores: Never trust Commercial critics. Are you really going to let a random group of people tell you what you should or should not like? If anything should really be gleaned from these it should be the notes on technical issues, but even then it could be exaggeration.

See the TVTropes wiki article on PlayerArchetypes if you want something more informal than Wikipedia.

I also regret the lack of similar classifications for videogamers. It's odd: the various TTRPG classifications were thought up by gaming companies so that they could sell their product better. The question is, why has the videogame industry yet to do the same?

DeadlyYellow:

More Fun To Compute:
Good read. A pet peeve of mine is that with metacritic the industry makes games for the tastes of reviewers but I'm not a games reviewer at all. I just buy the things.

I spew this at everyone I meet who brings up review scores: Never trust Commercial critics. Are you really going to let a random group of people tell you what you should or should not like? If anything should really be gleaned from these it should be the notes on technical issues, but even then it could be exaggeration.

If they were really random then I might be happier. I think that they might be a self-selected group which is even less representative.

I think the XBL profiles let you sort yourself into one of a few groups according to your motivation.

Game elements should ALWAYS be added with a thought about WHY you're adding them (e.g. "the player kept walling himself in so we added artillery that forces him to leave the protective cocoon"), otherwise you get a feature katamari.

Another good read Shamus, agree with you completely there. I personally come from the 'hardcore' pc multiplayer gaming scene. I find myself in a situation currently where my favourite genre, shooters, is being watered down as mainstream gaming expands more and more. Developers believe there is a need to make the learning curves of games shallower so that anybody can be good at them. I personally believe that anyone should be able to be good at a game, but they should have to put some effort in. Whats the point in everyone being good at a game in the first day after release? It makes the game bland and shallow, and its multiplayer shelf life incredibly short for someone like me.

I remember when Epic games decided to remove the dodge jumping mechanic from UT3 as new players to their previous games could not understand how they were dying so fast without knowing what was going on and thus put the game down. In comparison to sport, its like removing the net from tennis just because most people find it hard to get the ball over it.

I'm thankful for ID for remaking/re-releasing quake live, which thankfully will bring hardcore fpsing to pretty much anyone who owns a PC and wants in on the scene, but I do personally believe that quake live is the last nail in the coffin for hardcore PC fps's, I dont think we shall see another for many years to come. Maybe after the genre gets to the point when it needs to re-establish itself, based on the masses finally not being content with 'just another space marine fighting some aliens'.

What kind of gamer can I get shoehorned in as?

I don't know. I'm sort of a weird mix of everything. The funny thing is I'm mostly a less mainstream gamer, more hardcore and casual to balance it... that doesn't sound right. It's all about time. If I have lots of time, it's probably an older RPG(Persona or Persona 2). If I don't have much time, maybe a bit of solitare or peggle. If everybody can get together, I pull out my dicebox, and we play well, something. Oh wait, I'm running a 1 shot next, and I haven't even decided what I'm going to run. Probably some all flesh. But if the hockey game's on...

Yeah. It's kind of hard to peg down a gamer demographic nowadays.

More Fun To Compute:

DeadlyYellow:

More Fun To Compute:
Good read. A pet peeve of mine is that with metacritic the industry makes games for the tastes of reviewers but I'm not a games reviewer at all. I just buy the things.

I spew this at everyone I meet who brings up review scores: Never trust Commercial critics. Are you really going to let a random group of people tell you what you should or should not like? If anything should really be gleaned from these it should be the notes on technical issues, but even then it could be exaggeration.

If they were really random then I might be happier. I think that they might be a self-selected group which is even less representative.

Random reviewers make for useless reviews. Especially if the game is part of an established genre which you are familiar with.

If I read a review on a RTS, I want to know if it's balanced, are there several tactics that work or just one, how much micro and macro are present, viability of rushing, etc. Chances are the average person (or the average gamer) is not a RTS gamer, and their review would be along the lines of "Pretty basic gameplay, build a bunch of dudes and then go attack. I was entertained for the duration of the campaign, about 10 hours. Nice graphics. 7+".

Nutcase:
Random reviewers make for useless reviews. Especially if the game is part of an established genre which you are familiar with.

But is that what you want to in terms of developer feedback? Five or so people from the same town with who drink together can define what a genre is about as their contribution to the metacritic average is seen as being an objective measure of quality. What if they all have similar taste in games that excludes a large number of the potential audience?

More Fun To Compute:

Nutcase:
Random reviewers make for useless reviews. Especially if the game is part of an established genre which you are familiar with.

But is that what you want to in terms of developer feedback? Five or so people from the same town with who drink together can define what a genre is about as their contribution to the metacritic average is seen as being an objective measure of quality. What if they all have similar taste in games that excludes a large number of the potential audience?

I was only addressing the applicability of reviews from the viewpoint of a specific gamer, such as one of DeadlyYellow's acquaintances. Other things being the same, the closer the viewer's true preferences are to the gamer's true preferences, the more useful the review will prove to the gamer. (By "true" preferences I mean what one actually likes, in contrast to what one proclaims to like.) In addition to that correlation, a good reviewer will have enough knowledge of the genre (if applicable) and be able to express themselves coherently and clearly.

Nutcase:
I was only addressing the applicability of reviews from the viewpoint of a specific gamer, such as one of DeadlyYellow's acquaintances. Other things being the same, the closer the viewer's true preferences are to the gamer's true preferences, the more useful the review will prove to the gamer. (By "true" preferences I mean what one actually likes, in contrast to what one proclaims to like.) In addition to that correlation, a good reviewer will have enough knowledge of the genre (if applicable) and be able to express themselves coherently and clearly.

I was only ever referring to my original point which was the weight given to metacritic scores. I actually think that almost no review is really useful to someone who has equivalent experience with a genre to the person doing the review. It's just trivia, like "oh this scored that," and "did he really say that?"

The introduction of the internet has done a lot to show just how confused our understanding is. Players used to be able to sit at home and imagine that everyone else playing the game had more or less the same experience they did. Now they can read what other players are saying, and are discovering that the world is full of crazy people. You like auto-leveling foes? What's wrong with you? You want more obscure boss fights? Nutter. You like games where you get sent back to the beginning of the level? Masochist. Players are slowly realizing what tabletop enthusiasts realized decades ago: There are all kinds of players with wildly different preferences, and there's no one experience that can hope to please them all.

This I liked, as it reminds me of just how relatively civil conversations on gaming forums are these days, compared to 10 years ago when people started chatting online. Back then, people could really get away with making-up random bullshit and passing it off as fact, and no one thought anything of flaming others based on opinion. These days though, people are skeptical of anything lest proof is provided ("Screenshot or it didn't happen" is a classic line), and people are actually allowed to have an opinion as long as it's within reason.

I was surprised Shamus didn't mention the Bartle test. While certainly not perfect, it helped me understand why I hated using Oblivion's fast travel system while my brother-in-law swears by it.

"Contrast this with how videogamers are divided up: Hardcore. Mainstream. Casual. So instead of identifying players by what they look for in gaming, we end up sorting players by how much they play or how skilled they are."

This drives me nuts too. A lot of hardcore gamers who play games to high levels a great amount of time and get all the best gear or play a lot of endgame content don't feel that others who play just for fun and don't aspire to be 'the best' aren't true '(video)gamers.' A videogamer is pretty much anyone who plays video games. There definitely should be more terms which describe peoples playing styles and preferences more accurately instead of lumping them into broad categories. :-)

But the real answer is that videogames are where all the interesting work is being done because that's where we have the most holes in our knowledge.

I think the complete opposite is true. Lots of video games have come out in the past few years. Some have been fairly entertaining. I can think of very few that I would describe as truly "interesting work".

Meanwhile, tiny independently-produced pen-and-paper games keep blowing my mind on a fairly regular basis. Not bad for a niche-within-a-niche that probably numbers in the low thousands at best.

If you want to force-feed your brain until it pukes, you could try reading up on Gamist, Narrativist, Simulationist theory, where players are described in robust terms that define them according to why they game. A couple of roleplayers can talk to each other for a minute or two and immediately have a pretty clear understanding of what sorts of things the other person is looking for in a game. Some people want to take part in and help weave an epic tale, to inhabit a deep and authentic world of lifelike characters. Other players just want to pit themselves against an endless series of cunning challenges that test their strategic mettle.

Contrast this with how videogamers are divided up: Hardcore. Mainstream. Casual. So instead of identifying players by what they look for in gaming, we end up sorting players by how much they play or how skilled they are.

GNS isn't really where it's at, though. It's just a first draft for "the Big Model". And the weakest part of the Big Model? Why, the creative agendas, of course! Fundamentally, GNS is only a few baby steps away from "rollplayers vs. roleplayers", which is just as weak as hardcore/casual/mainstream.

Here's the most important and (I hope) most lasting thing about all of GNS theory: RPGs are about shared fiction. There were categories before G, N, and S; there'll be categories afterward -- probably better ones. We didn't need more categories. What we needed was more people pointing out that not all "storytelling" is the same, that every participant in the game is a co-author, that the "munchkins" or "rollplayers" actually have social and narrative goals, and that the community was shooting itself in the foot by talking about "roleplaying" as one specific act (and especially by equating it with in-character dialogue or backstories or "immersion").

....

We have some pretty good theories and player typologies and the like for video games already, I think -- as good as pen-and-paper games', at least. They're just not widely used by the community of people who play games or, as far as I can tell, by the community of people who make them, either. I think that's really the commercial nature of games at work.

Video games are big business. Spending millions to create a product that lots of people will buy necessarily involves a lot of risk-reduction -- which translates to sticking to certain formulas artistically. Because video games also kinda straddle the world of games and cinema, a lot of experimentation seems to be diverted into the "cinema" side because it's, well, a weird-looking game with familiar gameplay is less of a business risk than a game that changes up how players actually interact with it and each other.

Pen-and-paper RPGs aren't big business. Or, if they are, it's only for one or two companies -- and they're not the ones coming up with big new ideas or highly-focused games. D&D is still marketed as being just as one-size-fits-all as it was ten or twenty years ago.

On top of that, hobbyist production of video games is a pain in the ass. Any design for a video-game requires tons of programming and artwork to become an actual playable thing, whereas with a pen-and-paper game or board game, refining your design and writing it up nicely on paper means you've already done 90% of the work.

-- Alex

I agree with most of what you said. But I think that in general the company that understands their audience the best does the best business. EA understands that their audience is dumb, Nintendo understands that their audience is either 8 or 40, and SEGA understands that their audience are blind with nostalgia.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here