Troubleshooting Your Level: An Inside Look Into Level Design Techniques

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Games are starting to get too… “hand-holdy.” Not even 10 minutes after I’ve started playing a brand new game, and I’m already reading a wall of text about how to scorch my enemy with a fireball, how to swing my sword, or how to jump. The intro story is laden with break after break. I’m over-burdened with too much information at once, and I’m not even sure what’s going on with the story! The first couple of hours of Final Fantasy XIII were a nightmare; let’s face it. It’s hard enough trying to figure out what a fal’Cie is, but throw in a complicated menu and battle system, then sprinkle some multi-page tutorials in the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.

On the other hand, Portal is a masterpiece from top to bottom, and their level design stands out amongst the accolades. What’s ironic is that the majority of game players don’t even realize they are being led through the levels and are being introduced to game mechanics until they’ve already done it. There are no lengthy menus or breaks in the action that spend 500 words trying to explain what a portal is, you just kind of… figure it out. Very few developers really know the art of level design.

I had the chance to spend some time with one level designer, who had some special insight into level design techniques that are sure to make your game top-notch.

Enter Jesse Tucker.

Jesse is currently a level designer for Runic Games, the masterminds behind the wildly popular game, Torchlight, but his experience doesn’t stop there. Prior to working with Runic, he was a level designer for Bethesda Games and had a hand in developing for Fallout 3 and its award-winning DLC packs. Jesse had a lot to say about the difficulties of level design and provided helpful feedback for those who are currently learning to perfect the art.

Visual Cues

Moving a player from the beginning to the end of the level, while keeping the fun-factor high, is more difficult than it may seem. For the designer, it may seem like common knowledge for the player to take the path to the left instead of the one to the right, but many players will become frustrated when they can’t determine the best route without trial and error. The player wants to have some idea of the consequence or reward that takes place, when they decide to go right. Jesse explains that visual cues are a very basic and useful techniques that lead players to the suggested path. The path that leads to your next objective may be the one with neatly placed columns, while the side path will be narrow or harder to see. Some gamers will choose the path with the overgrowth and dead bodies, rather than the path with the beaming light, because they want the challenge. This is all part of the risk and reward that a level designer provides to the player.

Audio Cues

The sound in a game plays a much larger part than you might think. A deep rumbling from a side room could warn the player of danger, or serve as a signal to fight a looming beast in the distance carrying a high-level battleaxe. On that same note, a melodic piano tune may ease the player’s nerves by informing them of a nearby safe-zone on the brink of an imminent attack. Portal utilized this technique with their sarcastic character, GLaDOS. GLaDOS was an ever-present audio technique used to tip the player off, when they were headed in the right direction. If GLaDOS was silent, chances are you weren’t making progress. Even though her snarky comments seemed like humorous narration, they had a strong effect on leading the player through the puzzles.

Offering Opportunity

Jesse also offered a specific example of how he used level design in Fallout 3 as a means of teaching the player the consequences of using a laser pistol near a gas leak. In one particular area of the game, the player has the opportunity to equip themselves with a laser gun. Not too far ahead, there is a hallway with a dangerous gas leak guarded by an enemy. Instead of trusting that the player would automatically make the connection, Jesse placed a context specific “Laser Gun Manual” nearby, to warn that firing the weapon near the leak would cause a consuming explosion. Once the player was introduced to the enemy, surrounded by gas, they had a chance to fire the gun from a safe position into the hallway, where the enemy lurked. The combination of the safe haven and the “Laser Gun Manual” allowed the player the opportunity to test what they had learned without distractions or fear of being attacked. Giving the player too much stimulation can often distract from the mechanic you’re trying to teach them.

Removing Distraction

How many times have we spent 30 minutes or an hour back-tracking through a maze of rooms and hallways searching for the next destination, only to get frustrated, throw down the controller and flip off the system? What about when you’re talking to an NPC, trying to get some valuable story information, and that chatty citizen interrupts the conversation and tells you about how his wife keeps complaining that he spends too much time at the pub? “Why don’t you do us all a favor and glitch yourself off of that cliff?!” These are the moments that pull the player out of the experience and ruin what the developers worked so hard to achieve. Jesse wants to teach designers that removing distractions, and drawing the player’s attention to the desired point of interest (ie. a newly opened door), is essential to keeping the player happy and having fun. When you are designing something in a game that players need to see, give them the opportunity to experience it. Don’t pile on the distractions. Wait until after the explosion before you make the previously locked door fall off its hinges.

Misconceptions

It’s very easy for a game designer to get so wrapped up in their work that they occasionally forget, despite their constant involvement with a specific game mechanic, that gamers haven’t experienced it yet. Jesse says, “When you’re designing a system, it’s impossible to view it with a fresh set of eyes. You already know how the whole system works together, and your mind doesn’t have to make the same mental links that someone who is new to the system would.”

One of the biggest points that Jesse stressed is that, as a designer, you are going to fail hard at getting people to understand what you want them to do. One useful tip is to grab someone who isn’t familiar with the new mechanic, and watch them play through your instance. Jesse states, “Once you watch someone play through your experience, you figure out where the communication is failing. Then you have to figure out some creative mechanism that lets the player understand what you want them to. It’s different in every situation. The key is that you need to understand that the experience won’t be perfect at the start, and you need to watch others play through your spaces.”

Level designers need to be willing to bend in response to moment-to-moment design. The techniques listed above are not all-inclusive, and it’s likely that you will be faced with demands that don’t fit nicely into the problems we’ve discussed. Be willing to bend, and occasionally break, in order to find the right fit for your levels.

Know where you want to lead your audience, and take them there in as many interesting ways as possible, without making it too obvious. Jesse finished with the following comment, “The most important thing is to listen to other people’s issues with what you’re working on and try to improve on that.”

Torchlight 2 is Runic Games’ next title, which should be releasing soon. Check it out to get a glimpse of Jesse Tucker’s dynamite design techniques.

Michael Johnson is a games industry marketing professional with a focus on feature and review writing, as well as social media management.  http://johnsonm325.wordpress.com/

Jesse Tucker is a level designer at Runic Games, and is currently working on Torchlight 2. He also did level design and trap design for Fallout 3 and its expansions during his time at Bethesda.http://www.joystickmonkey.com/about-me

Becoming Social Smart in 2012

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By Michael Johnson and Mary Kurek

As we dive head first into 2012, it’s time to evaluate the upcoming year in gaming. Looking back at 2011, it’s amazing to see the changes that took place in the industry and the great games that were showcased throughout the year. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a phenomenon take gaming by surprise and resurface the terrain we all know so well. A market that was previously dominated by young males has had its foundation shaken as females have infiltrated the ranks and have become a game-changing demographic. Gaming has been adopted by older generations, and it’s not uncommon to have a competitive match of Words With Friends with our mom or dad. It seems that we only have social gaming to thank for that.

Most of us remember one of our first experiences, or at least our most popular experience, with social gaming being Farmville. Things have changed drastically since then. While Farmville is still wildly popular and dominates the social scene on Facebook, the way social games are played — and the business behind them — are in an accelerated rate of growth. Companies such as Zynga, EA’s Playfish and Wooga are learning what it means to grow up fast as they have to manage the development, production and finances that come with a successful business. But, what’s interesting about these companies is their ability to handle the pressure … it’s why we will see the Zyngas of the play-space separate themselves from the competition and redefine the social gaming industry.

The two biggest changes we will see this year are companies’ ability to adapt to the rapidly growing gaming platform market and their ability to develop successful monetization models. The companies that successfully address these issues this year will be the players who define the space.

Smartphones and netbooks and tablets … oh my!

It’s been less than 10 years since Facebook exploded on the Internet. Mobile smartphones have allowed us to access anything, anywhere, anytime; and now we’re seeing tablet computers and netbooks enter the arena. Gaming has morphed alongside technology and has redefined what it means to be a gamer. It’s not all about sitting at home with a pizza and stash of energy drinks anymore; people are gaming in the subway, on their lunch breaks, off their lunch breaks and even while they’re driving. By the way — you should stop doing that. High accessibility spells potential for talented developers looking to break their way into the industry and make it big. IPhone users aren’t the only ones demanding games anymore. If companies want to experience success quickly in 2012, they need to adapt quickly to the increasing platform line-up and develop social games that are accessible on all of these devices.

With that said, developers also need to realize that the social gaming craze doesn’t stop with mobile devices. In fact, some recent AAA games have adapted these newfound social aspects into their games. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a good example. The game uses a system called “Autolog,” which allows a player to track their friends’ best times and compete to break their records. Assassin’s Creed Revelations compares your top scores in multiplayer and consistently challenges you to break your friends’ records. Break all of your friends’ records, and you’re sure to be at the top of the leaderboards.

It’s not that these features weren’t sought prior to social gaming, but games such as Farmville have proven that it can be done successfully and that the market is hungry for it. Note to developers: You should follow the trends, realize where the potential is and get your social games out to as many users as possible. The mobile landscape isn’t slowing down, and neither should you. The companies who take the most advantage of their resources are coming out on top in 2012.

Monetizing your game

Now, on to the part we all care about … making money! Let’s hope you’re not out there putting in strenuous, well-earned and valuable time making your games and then simply giving them away for free.

Oh my … you are?!

Well, there’s good news: There are plenty of options for starving artists looking to make money for their hard work. Some companies go for the free-to-play model, implementing microtransactions, while others prefer to have their users pay before they play. Both are successful models in their own right, but developers have to decide which models fit their games best.

There is some research to prove that social games thrive and bring in the maximum profit when they offer a low barrier to entry and then allow their users to purchase in-game items as they go. In an article titled “The Rise of the European App Economy” in the fall 2011 issue of Casual Connect, writer Regina Leuwer points out that a recent study conducted by research firm Distimo shows that the top 200 iPhone developers who use the freemium model have increased their total revenue by 79 percent year over year. I can personally attest to the theory that people will spend more money when the game’s value is determined over time, rather than in one moment. Games such asMapleStory have tested the model, and I’ve personally spent well over $60 on the game; something I would have never spent had I been asked to pay it up front.

You may be asking what your options are for making money, and you’ll be happy to know that there are a lot of options. First, you have the App Store for iPhone devices, as well as the Market for Android. These are standard, and most games that are launched use these avenues to sell their games. There also are some more obscure game portals, but still relatively popular, which allow developers to submit Flash-based games for free, or for a low-price, and encourage players to pay fees for extra content or no advertisements on their websites. These are websites such as TeePee Games, XPO Games and Newgrounds.

Still, probably the best way to go is linking your games directly to Facebook. In some cases, you can offer in-game purchases through Facebook and use Facebook Credits in order to make revenue. This makes it easier on consumers who don’t want to have to purchase different currencies for multiple games but would rather purchase one virtual currency and use it across all games. In this case, a low barrier to entry is the key.

The social games that will be the most successful in 2012 are the ones that actively utilize and implement an easy-to-use monetization model, allowing players to easily drop into the game, purchase items at a reasonable amount and are encouraged to do so more often as they experience increasing fun. This is most easily obtained when companies learn to broaden their horizons and adapt to the rapidly growing mobile platform market.

The task is at hand, and there may be a long road ahead, but the harvest is ripe. Developers who meet consumer expectation by melding social games with the increasingly available mobile devices will step above the rest and experience a good growth in sales this year. Keep it fun, keep it social and find the right way to monetize.

 

Michael Johnson is a games industry marketing professional with a focus on feature and review writing, as well as social media management.http://johnsonm325.wordpress.com/

Mary Kurek is a professional networker who makes business introductions for games professionals. She is a nationally endorsed author, business columnist for IGDA and Casual Connect writer. http://www.maryurek.comhttp://www.twitter.com/gamemarketing

http://www.igda.org/newsletter/2012/02/27/becoming-social-smart-in-2012/

Meeting Expectations When the Brand is Star Wars

by Mary Kurek and Michael Johnson

By the time you read this, Star Wars, The Old Republic (SWTOR) will have been out about a month…plenty of time to know whether or not the game meets or exceeds the expectations of the players.  With more than a million gamers that obtained pre-release access, it’s clear that Star Wars junkies anticipated the game’s arrival like it was the phone call following a job interview.  Even with some interesting marketing teases during a pre-release phase, you run the risk of over-hyping and setting into motion a domino of disappointment..the kind no one likes to endure at the close of 4th quarter.  But, for now, let’s assume a success, and take a look at how you market a game that you hope will stand up to a really big name.

Control Your Reveal:  Gareth Harmer, owner of UK based The Obscurecast and SWTOR game tester noticed that EA took a different approach on announcing this game. Says Harmer, “the game was under a strict NDA up until a month before launch. EA controlled what was revealed and in what way, usually providing added value at the same time, such as insight videos or in depth articles. As soon as the NDA dropped, the Internet came to life with a huge amount of information about the game. The blog sphere lit up with posts describing the beta, while YouTube was flooded with videos covering almost every facet of the game. Suddenly, it seemed like everyone was talking aboutSWTOR.  While the NDA drop felt very late to most MMO bloggers, it was perfectly timed to support the launch date. A massive beta invite weekend gave anyone who was interested the chance to try the game beforehand. The community team worked hard on networks like Twitter and built ties with a number of fan sites to continue the excitement.  They worked the pre-order model heavily by offering bonuses to players who signed up early. There was also strong guild support, with potential guild masters encouraged to get their members pre-ordering in order to reserve a place for their guild. All of this helped to build steady anticipation of the game.”

Market Directly to the Customer:  The biggest thing to focus on here is who EA is actually marketing this game toward. As opposed to games like World of Warcraft, who market their game using mass media, SWTOR chose to market directly to their fans and the “hardcore gamer” audience. Outside of promoting developer diaries on their web site, and various gaming sites, such as GameInformer, Joystiq, IGN, etc., their most significant marketing has been at expos and trade shows and in social media outlets that allow for direct interaction.

When asked his take on how EA began attracting the fans, Harmer, says “there seemed to be little comparison of SWTOR to other MMOs by EA. They actively avoided trying to court players from other MMOs in the way RIFT did with their ‘Not in Azeroth Any More’ campaign. Instead, it felt like they were trying to grow the size of the MMO market by pulling in Star Wars videogamers and franchise fans, as well as fans from their other RPGs, such as Mass Effect.”

Partner with Companion Entertainment Sources with the Same Audience: BioWare and LucasArts partnered with Dark Horse Comics to publish some online exclusive comics based on the game and the “Old Republic” universe. http://www.swtor.com/media/webcomics/threat-of-peaceRemember that SWTOR is based on the games released on the original Xbox, entitled Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, also released by BioWare.

Encourage the Talent to Help You Promote:  One of BioWare’s game writers, Drew Karpyshyn, wrote a book to promote the game entitled Star Wars The Old Republic: Revan. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/star-wars-the-old-republic-3-drew-karpyshyn/1102213740.

Entertain Your Customers Before the Product is Released:  BioWare spent a lot of time posting free tracks on their Facebook page. Apparently, they started posting a music track a day, which has successfully helped them to build the following. http://www.facebook.com/starwarstheoldrepublic

Throw Splashy Launch Parties: Launch events were planned for New York, Austin, London, and Paris. At the event in New York, Dr. Muyzka and Dr. Zeschuk were booked to talk to fans and sign autographs. Free limited edition launch event lithograph for attendees and a chance to win free copies of the game were included in the launch goodies.

License the Name to a Company to Create Branded Peripherals:  Well, of course you have to do this…don’t you?  The slick new PC peripherals and the partnership with Razer was announced at E3, immediately followed by a pre-order campaign.

While I’m sure this is just a tiny sampling of all that went on to get this game to launch, I feel like it’s enough to beg the question:  So, is the game worth the hype?  Harmer, who admits to not being the most fervent fan of the Star Wars franchise, says he really likes the story and believes those who have waited won’t be disappointed.  That seems to be the consensus among many.  Good thing…because LucasArts intended for the story and cinematic features of the game to shine through.That said, Harmer also notes that gamers “might get a little jaded once the story novelty wears off.” Though It didn’t stop Harmer from pre-ordering the game, himself.

When you put so much investment and energy in pre-launch, you have to continue the plan past launch and know where you are headed.  I’m not sure where EA is headed with marketing for the longer haul, but it should be interesting to see how creative they can get at keeping up with expectations.  At the very least, they already have the best branding tool…a name with a ready and loyal fan base.  No better force to be with you.

Mary Kurek is a Professional Networker who makes business introductions for games professionals.  She is a nationally endorsed author, business columnist for IGDA and Casual Connect writer.  http://www.maryurek.com http://www.twitter.com/gamemarketing

Michael Johnson is a games industry marketing professional with a focus on feature and review writing, as well as social media management.  http://johnsonm325.wordpress.com/

Keith Fuller, Speaker for IGDA Leadership Forum Shares Thoughts on Game Industry Production Practices

We’ve all heard the horror stories about employees of game development companies being forced into large amounts of overtime in order to meet, or miss, a deadline. Who can forget the reports of the terrible working conditions and unpaid wages at Team Bondi? It’s a shame to watch any person have to take the brunt of forcing these high-production titles out of the door. It’s no surprise when we hear about 60, 70, or 80 hour work weeks during “crunch time”, and I can only imagine the strain that it can put on a marriage or a new family.

In a recent interview with Keith Fuller, founder of Fuller Game Production, he attributes his decision to start a production consulting company to a specific instance during mandatory “crunch time” developing a AAA game.

It was late one night… and the guy to my left, a level designer, is fixing the scripting in one of his maps instead being at home with his fiancee helping to plan the wedding that’s occurring in a couple of weeks. And then I look to my other side and there’s a Senior Technical Artist, and he is working on the art in a map to bring up the framerate instead of being at home with his less than two week old daughter.

When you hear and see situations like these you can’t help but want to see a change for the better. Fuller Game Production is designed to help take the stress off of game studios and their employees by going in and managing the production and project management aspects of development.

A study conducted in February and March 2011, by Keith Fuller, sheds some light on many production practices and opinions of a number of development studios. In our interview, we were able to discuss some of the results of the study and how Keith’s company is equipped to alleviate these burdens from game studios.

In just a few short days Keith Fuller will be speaking at the 5th annual IGDA Leadership Forum in L.A. in order to discuss the results of his study with the attendees. He plans to address the findings showcased in his article featured on Gamasutra as well as another 40% of the results that were a little more ambiguous in nature.

The questions posed at the end of the survey proved to be more open-ended and will require more feedback from the studios who agreed to remain un-anonymous, and from participants in the audience. He hopes to attract some industry involvement by allowing people the opportunity to give their insight on the results and perhaps give feedback on their own studio’s practices.

Expect a large part of the discussion to focus on one very specific point addressed in the second question of the survey. When participants were asked, “Name the area in which your company excels the most,” a majority answered by saying Production was their studio’s strongest attribute, but absolutely no one responded by saying that Mentoring/Training, or Company Leadership were strong attributes of their company.

On the flip-side of that question, participants were asked what they would like to see improved the most, and Company Leadership received twice as many votes than any other single question.

While this doesn’t provide definitive data, Keith believes that many companies are lacking in either proper leadership, or the realization of that leadership within the production process. Keith said, “there are a lot of situations, especially in a comparatively young industry like game development, where you can get put into a leadership position not because you have the skills necessarily, but because you may be the best person available, or they just need to have somebody.”

Keith believes that organizations need to address these issues and hopes that involvement with the IGDA Leadership Forum, and his session in particular, will open their eyes to the possibilities that his services can provide.

For those not familiar with the IGDA Leadership Forum, it is an annual conference held in Los Angeles that features industry leaders and professionals from all over the world who speak in various sessions that last throughout the weekend. This years Leadership Forum is on October 27 & 28, 2011 and is being held at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, LAX at 6101 W. Century Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA.

Keith speaks highly of the IGDA LF and states that it’s imperative for anyone who is, or is working to become a leader in the video game industry. “It’s absolutely a phenomenal experience for someone who needs more exposure in the industry,” Keith says, “but also to be able to learn from a lot of the thought leaders in the industry.”

Don’t think that the IDGA Leadership Forum is only for leaders or those aspiring to be one; this conference is equally as beneficial for someone who may have just taken an entry level position at a studio. Keith sums up its benefits by saying, “You get exposure to what is of critical importance to people in leadership…you get to see and hear from people in those positions talking about what’s important to them, and you get a sense of their knowledge, their background, their training, and the sorts of things that they still need in their position.”

So whether you are an entry-level game tester, or the CEO of a multi-million dollar game development company, there is plenty for you. Take time out of your busy week to rub elbows with the best in the industry, and if you can’t make it out this year then mark your calenders for next year. Make sure to visit Keith’s discussion on Friday, October 28, at 11:00 A.M. called “Industry Survey Results on Improving Production Practices.”

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Pop-Gaming – We Asked For It

It’s high time I discussed the phenomenon that is sweeping the video game realm. I’ve avoided it so far – mostly because I want to pretend like it’s not there – but I can’t help but see it creeping into my daily life. What started out as mere curiosity has become a huge part of my gaming life, and I can’t imagine it subsiding anytime soon. My will may be strong, but as more people are embracing this paradigm shift I find it hard to avoid. The phenomenon I’m referring to is “Pop-Gaming”.

At first glance, you might decide to bash the Pop-Gaming market, and complain about how Farmville has given many people a false idea of gaming; or how Prince of Persia should have never been a movie. A closer look will reveal that this is what we’ve been demanding all along, but we never expected it to come to this.

As many people spent the 90s sitting at home, playing hardcore games alone in their basements, they experienced the judging glares and condescending comments of pretentious detractors. These gamers quickly began to demand respect and understanding of their hobby while politicians accused their beloved Mortal Kombat, and other “violent” video games as the core reason for high school shootings and the like. As time has progressed, people have slowly dropped the misconceptions and are taking an interest in our hobby. What started out as a misunderstanding and a “waste of time”, has shifted to curiosity and respect for this thing we call video gaming.

When I think about this shift, thoughts drift into visions of game-related novels, movie adaptations, Farmville junkies, and masochistic little birds with a hankering for pork. These images are enough to make a JRPG fan go nuts and begin slandering these wannabes. My initial reaction was very similar, but as I see these mediums begin to permeate the world outside of hot, sweaty dungeon-crawling warlords, I started to realize that hardcore gamers have very little reason to complain.

Take World of Warcraft, it contains what appears to be a niche market; but how niche can 12 million players be? You may have started out on the ground floor of this MMO movement, but you’ve opened the gates and happily welcomed your friends. You showed them around, got them a glass of wine, and displayed grade A hospitality; but by the time you turned around, the entire room was filled with people. Now you are upset all because you forgot to close the door.

There has been a large movement into the realm of MMOs recently. Leaders of free-to-play games such as Nexon, have paved the road and found ways to convince normal people to pour hundreds of hours and dollars into an endless grind. That market is getting bigger, and as more companies jump on board we will see more people losing their time to the micro-transaction model.

How about first person shooters? How many of you spent countless hours in front of a computer screen with Unreal Tournament, fragging your friends and scoffing at those who just couldn’t understand why you thought that could be fun. Now the tables have turned. You complain because some of the same people who laughed at you then, have all but sold their soul to Call of Duty. It’s a fight that you’ve fought for so many years, but you never thought it would come to this.

We were the ones who wrote blog and forum posts demanding respect from unreasonable parents and conservative politicians, who said that shooting and fighting games were the leading cause of juvenile violence. We fought, and continue to fight, in fear of losing our precious games, and the battle is slowly being won. We proudly wore our Legend of Zelda t-shirts and honorably display our allegiance to the Horde and the Alliance. The floodgates have burst open and we now stare in disbelief at the wave of support we’ve ushered in.

Every movie, book, cellphone or Facebook game that comes out is not bad, but I can understand the frustration when you watch your favorite genres or series get watered down with under-par content. What was once a labor of love has slowly been loosed from the grip of the video game forefathers, altered, and injected into the mainstream of America. Now corporations have seen ways to make additional profit off of our favorite games and have all but forced us to support them.

We can’t blame anyone but ourselves. No matter how much we think that motion controls are ruining the core experience, or cell phones and Facebook have inaccurately inducted business men and stay-at-home moms into the gamer category, we supported the development of our current predicament. If you feel like the issue has gotten out of hand, but you aren’t quite sure what to do about it, then I have one thing to say…VOTE.

“How,” you might ask. With your money. You may be able to get your comrades to support your antics by posting on forums about how much pop-gaming should die, but you aren’t going to affect the decision makers unless you refuse to buy their product. If Angry Birds is ruining your gaming feng shui, then don’t “accidentally” download it and get caught up in the addicting gameplay. If you have to choose between Prince of Persia and Bride’s Maids, then go with the latter…though, at that point, you may have a completely different problem on your hands.

You could, of course, choose to support this change. It’s not all bad. In fact, I find the new shift to be quite the stimulator for the industry. As revenue continues to pour in from the pop-gaming market, we will see funds shift to develop higher powered consoles that can hit the market at more affordable prices. Expect to see the Wii U announced with a fairly low price point, due to the astronomical financial success of the Wii. There’s a lot of good that social, mobile and motion-control gaming can do to support hardcore gamers. Plus, Angry Birds is just plain fun.

At the least, don’t forget the role you’ve played in making pop-gaming a reality; even you have made some bad judgment calls. So, dismount your self-constructed throne of conceit, uncover your hidden stash of Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat films, and face the facts…you’re a Pop-Gamer.

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