A few days ago, as I was in the kitchen making some dinner, I noted one of my favorite movies of all time was coming on the TV: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Naturally, as I watched Ferris’ slacking antics, my own progress toward a hot meal slowed. As he explained to the audience the importance of stopping to looking around in this fast life lest you miss something, I found the speed with which I sliced zucchini dropped substantially. Well, it would have been rude not to have paid attention … he was talking to me, after all. Right?
I was engaged.
Another time, for a couple of friends’ birthdays, a group of us went out to a piano bar to celebrate. This is one of those dueling piano places with two pianos and pianists on stage who take requests from the crowd. This is supported by a bar, so a couple hours after being there, the crowd is a lively bunch, drinking, hooting and laughing.
But then, the pianists, smart performers they are, saw the wheels of the fun coaster were well-oiled and brought out the big guns: the interpretive dance sing-along. Did you know that there’s a whole dance that goes along with “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog”? There is, and all the boys and girls got up, sang terribly and pantomimed wildly to the pianists’ playing and singing.
I was engaged.
The directors of these two instances were employing a twist of the adage “I do, I understand.” Games are unique as far as entertainment in that they are by their very nature interactive, and employ that old bit of wisdom. Where it’s innovative and quirky and engaging for more traditional modes of entertainment to use audience involvement, games do this as a cornerstone of the genre.
So, games sometimes have to go a step further to rise above the crowd in grabbing the attention and minds of players. And in this issue of The Escapist, “Reach Out and Touch Someone,” we discuss some of the games that have, some of the people that do and ways we are building that interaction for the future of games. Enjoy!