Spector On The Gaming Class War

By Alec Meer on September 6th, 2010 at 8:41 pm.

An micro-inter-RPS debate today was this august publication’s coverage of one W. Spector Esq. Leaving aside issues of platform prissiness, how justified are we in continuing to cover the bepullovered fellow’s words? He has moved to Wii development for the time being (although platforms for Ninja Gold, his still-unseen kicksplode collaboration with John Woo, remain undeclared), but at the same time there’s a big, tall, wobbly chance that RPS simply wouldn’t exist had the games Spector is most commonly associated with never come to pass. He’s a hard man to ignore here.

So let’s tip the collective hat one more time, mouse ears or not. Here’s Warren holding forth at the PAX conference, providing entertainments other than Duke Nukem’s thrusting denim-clad crotch. The question of the moment: why won’t gamers accept games for non-gamers?

Spector’s tack is to expand on brief comments in his recent GDC Europe keynote about the perceived chokehold of A Certain Type Of Gentleman (hello!) on videogames, and why he thinks it’s important for us to accept The Mainstream Other. While it’s pleasingly laden with proud prayers to geekdom and a clarion call to let creatives rather than marketeers define game production, the through-line is how he feels games should break away from their non-alpha-male roots.

“I worry that for all our geekdom, we might be putting our advances in jeopardy. We have a sense of brotherhood, a sense of being a tribe, a sense of being part of a revolution – and yet, for all the confidence and the cheering and the oohing and aahing… I’ve seen this happen a thousand times, when we go out in public… I’ve seen people sort of get insecure. It’s almost like we yearn to get accepted by mainstream media and yet once they start paying attention to us, once casual gamers start flocking to out world, we start complaining about it. We get upset when developers try to reach a broader audience.”

Part of me snarls at the coded self-aggrandising about making Mickey Mouse games that underpins what’s become a regular talking point for Spector – yes, we get it, you think/claim you’re doing this for noble reasons rather than because of all the enormous houses that can be bought with those meaty Disney dollars – but an equal-if-not-larger part of me agrees, thinks sadly upon how many times someone’s casually deployed the “dumbed down” misery-bomb in a comments thread here, and then wishes for a world in which traditional gamers embrace rather than rebuff attempts to make this fine hobby of ours accessible to more curious passers-by.

Another part of me rues how unwieldy the last paragraph is, before thinking “fuck it, the people who are going to have something interesting to say about this can deal with a few too many clauses.”

.

103 Comments »

  1. DrGonzo says:

    Ugh, I hate the idea that things need to be more accessible. By all means make accessible games ,but do not make current ‘hardcore’ games accessible.

    The more broad something gets, usually, it becomes pretty bland and uninteresting.

    • Wulf says:

      I can’t agree with this at all. Guild Wars 2 is the most accessible MMORPG that there has ever been, according to the coverage and demos thus far. You can leap in and play with all sorts of content at any time, you don’t have to read massive dialogues (great for the short-sighted), and it’s all designed to be comopelling and fun. There’s no hardcore grind there, and they’re even pitching it as a game for non-gamers.

      The more hardcore a game gets, the more boring I usually find it gets. Now compare something like STALKER to Guild Wars 2 and you’ll see what I mean, STALKER bored me to tears, it took mods before I could really enjoy it, just to pull it out of the Why so serious?! rut it had gotten itself stuck in. I suppose there are contrary examples, too.

      So my point is this: Accessibility and games targeted at non-gamers can result in more interesting, compelling, fun, and vibrant games, just as keeping things hardcore can create games which are as dreary, dull, and unimaginative as the last action movie that no one can remember the title of.

      It doesn’t have to be that way, but there’s unfortunately boatloads of evidence to support that. The reason we’re stagnating so much is that in the era of the early consoles and computers, no one knew what a gamer was, so people just made brilliantly creative stabs in the dark until they found something that stuck (a la Guild Wars 2). But now that the format is down, they can just keep regurgitating the same old crap to keep gamers interested.

      And I would further posit that hardcore gamers in general fear innovation. The reason for this is that they’re so familiar with the sort of games they play, they only want changes that amount to one or two different weapons, or one or two different enemies. They’re so invested in being good at games that if gaming changed too much, it would challenge them in a different way, by providing something else that someone else could be good at.

      Usually, I think hardcore gamers fear alternative gaming because they could get trounced by non-gamers.

    • Justin Keverne says:

      The more broad something gets the larger it’s niches become until once more those niches are large enough to be profitable on their own.

    • Johnny says:

      Acessability does not mean you abolish depth.
      What all games – at least all competetive multiplayer games – should shoot for is “easy to learn, difficult to master.”

    • Ozzie says:

      There’s this fine line between accessibility and shallowness. Sadly, many developers fall on the wrong side of it.
      It’s possible to make your games more accessible without sacrificing depth.

    • Stromko says:

      Wulf: I just can’t leave that comment alone. Most of us have never played Guild Wars 2, therefore we have nothing but hype to run off of. STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl on the other hand is quite old, and a lot of us who have played it think it was absolutely brilliant when it came out. Whether or not you like that game, we’ve at least had time to figure out the content of its character– an unreleased MMORPG is an unknown quantity, even if you’ve played it, so I couldn’t leave this apples to oranges comparison alone.

    • Jakkar says:

      @Wulf:

      I guess it comes down to opinion, whether I believe in the concept or not. I don’t find STALKER boring- I do indeed mod it to add a lot of difficulty and some of the deeper features left locked in the engine but not activated, but the core of this ‘boring’ game captures my imagination and immerses me in another world for a time, one that challenges my mind as I deal with the tactics of survival versus the economics of improving my means.

      It can be tedious, or slow – but so can reality. Thus realism, something I find vital to immersing myself in a game, sometimes consists of a little boredom.

      When you make everything too easy, I don’t find much reward. Guild Wars 2 sounds like a themepark. I’ve never liked themeparks. I like getting lost in the forest, or rockclimbing.

    • panther says:

      You sound like all those Natural Selection vets who froth complexity=depth

    • A Punctual Nord says:

      Seems like there’s a bit of a disconnect in how people are treating the term “hardcore gamer”. Wulf treats it as a person that plays games to be “good” at them. Or at least better than his fellows.

      Is that really what it is? Is that what people think of when they hear it?

      It’s not what I think of. I think of all of us here, the people that love video games as a medium rather than just as a tradition. Those that want to see it stand boldy astride the shoulders of previous success (the danger of falling or lightning being implicit) instead of cowering in the fortress of repetition.

      I guess I think of hardcore as someone that is invested in gaming as part of their life. Hmm…. maybe I just reconciled my own problem to a degree. Still, at least on this issue, its important to realize how broad of a term “hardcore gamer” is. For example, “football fan” doesn’t mean the same thing in the States as it does… well basically anywhere else.

      Maybe this is an opportunity to coin some terminology. Current jargon is too nebulous.

  2. Canthros says:

    Gaming has, to some degree, succumbed to the lure of targeting an audience that is sophisticated with respect to the medium. Given the persistent stigma against games as worthwhile entertainment, this seems understandable: it has been, thus far, difficult to find an audience of “normal” people.

    But I do rather miss the days when everything I needed to know about a game could be printed on the back of the box. And I think accessibility will be key to maintaining the medium’s vitality and cultural relevance. If not as an art form, then at least as a commercial interest.

  3. teo says:

    Games are about interaction, this is what Spector keeps saying over and over, and if you want to have an involving game then the interaction, too, has to be involving which tends to be mutually exclusive with ‘simple’. Games require you to do things and the barrier of entry is always going to be higher than with movies. Even so I think games can become mainstream it’s just going to take a while to get there. I don’t think you get there by making simple games.

    • bob_d says:

      Just because that’s (largely) the current game development philosophy doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true. See, for example, the “notgames” movement’s attempts to wed ease and simplicity with interactivity.

  4. PASTRIES says:

    i don’t understand the first paragraph of this article.

    are you saying you feel like you shouldn’t cover him because he’s making a game on the wii, but you’re conflicted because you liked deus ex?

  5. Freud says:

    Do people really have a problem with casual games? Isn’t it more that when games aimed at ‘regular’ gamers are afraid to add complexity. Do we really need the object of the current quest to be marked on the map? Do we really need auto-regenerating health? Do we need to remove inventories and item management?

    I’m all for some games being pretty thin on lots of features and focus purely on core gameplay mechanics. Fight’em up games or driving games benefit from them. But I also think there is added value to not shying away from things that are slightly cumbersome if they add to the gamers experience (Stalker for example).

    • Eamo says:

      I once met and got talking to a girl and we were really hitting it off, she told me she played a lot of computer games and in my mind I was going “woohoo, jackpot”. Then she followed it up by saying she plays scrabble online. My sense of disappointment was palpable.

      The thing is, I don’t think most gamers despise or dislike casual games, it is just that casual games are not what we really think of when it comes to games. If someone enjoys playing these games thats fine, but don’t try to guilt trip me into feeling a sense of kinship with them. The real point is that gaming has grown too big to be encompassed by a single noun. Just like someone who says they love sports most likely loves a couple of particular sports someone who says they love games will tend to love a narrow subsection of games and it is as unrealistic to expect a MMO player to feel kinship with someone who plays Bejeweled as it is to expect a golf fan to feel kinship with someone who loves kickboxing. It is hard to talk about things you are not interested in and community builds up around shared interests. The idea that an abstract love of games would be enough to build a community is as daft as the idea that an abstract love of sports is enough to draw sports fans together even if they like different sports.

      There is a reason you dont see Sports Conferences. You get Golf or Horseriding or Kickboxing or sometimes you go slightly wider to get Athletics or Martial Arts conferences. Once the degree of commonality shrings you end up with something overly vague that is unappealing to everyone.

    • Joey says:

      I very much love auto refilling health and mana. I thought that was one of the coolest things about Dragon Age and FFXII. I hate having to stop, open my inventory, eat a couple magic potions, just to do it over and over again. Keep me in the action and the story, not my inventory. One of the things that makes Halo so great for people is that if you don’t die, you basically get all your health back and are at full strength again so some person who walks by doesn’t get a free kill (at least I had a friend tell me that). I think these design choices are great ways to make games more accessible and more fun. I’m not looking for realism in a game with dragons and dwarfs. That being said, I loved Stalker. I found very few things about it cumbersome though where as I abhorred after every fight in a Final Fantasy game, going into my character screen to heal and eat potions.

  6. Flakfizer says:

    Gamers can’t accept the mainstream since the masses don’t want games. They want interactive movies they can’win’ with a few button presses.

    I’ll stay out of their Farmville if they stay out of my Dwarf Fortress.

  7. Dinger says:

    I say it again: video gamers are looking for their Citizen Kane because they’re afraid all their medium can muster is an Action Comics #1.

    And, of course, they’ve messed up the metaphors. Citizen Kane was not a statement about the artistic power of feature films, it was a statement about the artistic power of motion pictures presented before mass audiences. Comic books, like video games, may be niche art forms (to greater or lesser degrees), but their generic media, the book and the computer, are two of the hugest game-changers in human history. The motion picture has nothing on either one of them, and yet it spawned some of the most traumatic and revolutionary events human society has ever experienced.

    So, sure, nerds are insistent that everyone pay attention to their genre; then they don’t want the popular attention. You can say the same thing about indie rock nerds, comic book geeks, and cricket fans. That doesn’t mean that all fans of those genre feel that way; just the most insecure males who’ve invested their identity into being alternate.

    And, by the way, I did once make a mortar mod for an FPS title that required you to set out stakes, assemble the mortar from baseplate, tube and tripod, level the bubbles, orient the mortar with the aid of an aiming circle, calculate (by hand if necessary) a firing solution, sight the mortar properly (you end up looking at the aiming stakes) hand the cartridges from Ammo loader to assistant gunner, arming them, setting the charge and fuze, dropping the shells into the tube, and occasionally adjusting for drift. It was totally awesome. Accessible? Who gives a damn! Just give me indie rock!

  8. Jimbo says:

    “We get upset when developers try to reach a broader audience.”

    This is really the crux of the matter. We didn’t want a broader audience for the sake of having games that appeal to a broad audience – beige appeals to a broad audience; McDonald’s appeals to a broad audience – we wanted a broader audience so that the development of a greater variety of games would become viable.

    The latter just hasn’t really happened. It’s not like we’re moving the goalposts here as is being suggested. As the audience has broadened, the developers have just made safer and safer games to make sure they are inoffensive to as many people as possible. Just as property developers paint everything beige because no part of the market finds it objectionable.

    We wanted Rainbow Gaming and ended up with Beige Gaming, if you will.

    • Phil H says:

      Well said. Though [insert argument about the rise of the indie here].

    • Jools says:

      I really can’t think of a better way to phrase how I feel than this. Accessibility and increased market awareness has done nothing except create larger budgets and publishers/developers that are less willing to take risks. Gaming has less variety, both in theme and genre, than it did a decade ago. Usually I’d qualify a statement like that with something about it being not nostalgia, but it actually seems so self-evident to me that I can’t imagine any argument against it.

      Entire genres are dead. The space sim is dead, the management sim is effectively on life support, city builders are hanging on by a thread. All of this would be okay (or at least tolerable) if they were being replaced by a wide variety of new genres, but they’re not. Instead developers are focusing so heavily on accessibility and marketability that games are all starting to blur together into a weird mash. Is this shooter first-person or third-person? Is it going to have some watered down RPG elements? These are hardly distinguishing features.

      And I don’t really buy the idea that “indie” games are also the result of this, because “indie” games have always been around in the form of shareware and freeware – we’ve just decided to relabel them to something more trendy.

      I’ll just add that this:

      “and then wishes for a world in which traditional gamers embrace rather than rebuff attempts to make this fine hobby of ours accessible to more curious passers-by.”

      is a strange thing to say. Why should traditional gamers embrace anything that changes gaming in a way that they don’t enjoy? Change can be a good or a bad thing, but you’re basically saying that people should accept change solely for change’s sake. If “traditional gamers” don’t enjoy the results of greater accessibility, then why should they embrace it? For that matter, why shouldn’t they be upset that they’re effectively being told that they no longer matter to the people who make their hobby possible?

    • V. Profane says:

      Good point, Jools. I’ve been waiting for a new Sim City for years and years but because of the success of The Sims, it looks highly unlikely that they’ll ever bother to make another game as complex as Sim City 4.

  9. Tei says:

    Who wants to make more accessible games?

    No one stop anyone from doing that. But don’t ask me to support that with my money.

  10. choconutjoe says:

    I think you can see the same situation mirrored in virtually any sub-culture. Why won’t gamers accept games for non-gamers? For the same reasons literature lovers won’t accept Dan Brown, food lovers won’t accept McDonald’s and jazz lovers won’t accept Kenny G. It’s just not the same thing.

    As much as I’d love for there to be more people I could discuss the brilliance of Baldur’s Gate 2 or Half-Life with, I doubt that the increasing popularity of games like Farmville will actually help towards that end.

    Having said that I think it’s daft to begrudge someone just for liking Farmville, Dan Brown books or McDonald’s. Different strokes for different folks. Liking Kenny G however, is a punishable offense.

    • malkav11 says:

      I think your specific examples are perhaps a bit prejudicial – Dan Brown and McDonalds are -bad-, whereas the games that are aimed at non-gamers tend to be just kind of light and inoffensive and completely uninteresting to me. But that’s basically it. I just don’t want them to replace my sorts of games with the sorts of games that non-gamers tend to get into, in the name of a broader audience. And I don’t want them watering down my games with the thought that non-gamers will maybe get into them if they do – this doesn’t happen to any great degree because people are, generally speaking, not gamers because they are not interested in the sort of games I play, no matter how accessible.

    • MultiVaC says:

      But I think you can argue that something like Farmville is simply bad overall just as easily as you can argue that Dan Brown novels are bad. If not even more easily, since Zynga have stated several times that their games are specifically designed to be addictive above being good, or even fun. I don’t think even Dan Brown has such cynical goals, although I would imagine McDonald’s does.

    • choconutjoe says:

      @malkav11 You’re right. Those examples aren’t perfect. But I think it’s a truism that for every interesting and original thing in modern society, there’s also a bland, boring version for the ‘masses’. It’s also not uncommon for people who like one to dislike the other.

    • Dwergi says:

      “Dan Brown and McDonalds are -bad-”

      This has already been said, but I think it deserves reiterating: Farmville is also bad. Sims expansion packs are also bad. Imagine Babiez (it’s a thing) is also bad.

      Every other medium has its “art” or “fine” qualification: fine dining, art films, fine art. Where are our “fine games”? In the rush to monetize the mainstream, the industry has completely lost touch with variety, trying instead to be the next McDonald’s. This is largely understandable as there’s only about 10 sources of funding for AAA titles these days – EA has no reason to be an art house.

      We want good things, and we justify it with the understanding that even Dan Brown consumers may some day grow up to read Kafka. The only direction a maturing gamer today can take is backwards in time, through System Shock, Thief, X-COM, Sim City – games that can’t or won’t get made today. Which I find incredibly, gutwrenchingly sad.

  11. pupsikaso says:

    Nobody (not even the hardcorest of the hardcore) rebuffs accessibility. What we rebuff is /COMPROMISE/ in favour of accessibility. Right now, when someone says they want to create an awesome hardcore game that will also be accessible to everyone, that just means they will “dumb down” (read: make compromises in) the game. THIS is what we froth at the mouth at.

    There are some great games that are accessible and yet never compromised for the sake of that accessibility. Those games are few, and they are hard to make. Until developers stop making compromises in order to make a game more accessible (and instead make the game more accessible without compromises) we will continue to froth at the mouth and yell words like “DUMBED DOWN!” and “CONSOLONISED!”.

    • Kadayi says:

      “Nobody (not even the hardcorest of the hardcore) rebuffs accessibility. What we rebuff is /COMPROMISE/ in favour of accessibility”

      I don’t necessarily froth at the mouth, but I agree with the sentiment. A good example of accessibility leading to compromise I think was demonstrated by the conversation wheel in Mass Effect, here in after a little play it soon became apparent that almost all conversations were split into Paragon/Neutral/Renegade responses and that given Neutral was a waste of time (no bonus achievement for the dialogue, and let’s face it you can’t trust a neutral…), you could pretty much ignore what was said half the time and just select the dialogue option you liked. +5 for accessibility, +10 for robbing any meaning from the conversations.

  12. Metal_circus says:

    I personally have no problem with things being more accessible (to a reasonable degree, i’ve never found games like “farmville” particularly fun, really). I think what people (i.e. not me) have a problem with is the fear that gaming could be taken over by “casual” games. Obviously this would never happen, but actually I can understand why this would be scary for a lot of people. However I do think it’s important to strike a nice balance between games that are accessible and games that are a bit more in-depth.

    The sad fact of life in our political systems is that yes, stupidity and banality WORKS for a lot of people. It sucks like nothing else but it’s something that’s been proven time and time again. As capitalists (massive generalization alert, bare with me), people work harder, but are also more stupid, and as a result of that, yeah, shit like x-factor passes for genuine entertainment unfortunately. But that’s not to say this would be bad for gaming. A fun game is a fun game, and people will always be making more meaningful in-depth games for us to play.

    • Dwergi says:

      “Obviously this would never happen”

      Who says that? Lots of game genres have already been marginalized over the years to the point where they barely exist. I see no reason why the same couldn’t happen to “serious” games.

      Gamers are maturing and finding that, actually, there’s no place for them to go within games to get an interesting experience anymore. So they stop playing – and I don’t blame them. I have no interest in the constant cascade of “Action Shooter 5″, but my thirst for new games and new experiences goes largely unsated.

      Hardcore gamers still make up a significant niche with sufficient buying power to keep the loyalty of some developers, but I don’t think we’re a growing segment of the market. At some point, we just won’t have enough clout to affect what gets made – at that point, even I will quit.

  13. Hallgrim says:

    I have to echo the sentiments here that accessibility is not the same thing as simple.

    WoW is not simple. When I played WoW I had 30 different buttons, 2-3 gearsets, and constantly researched outside of the game to learn more about the game. It is, however, accessible because it hand holds you through the first phase of the game (leveling), and doesn’t require you to participate in the 2nd phase (raiding).

    What PC gamers (especially) complain about is when the “grown up” complexity of games is simply eliminated. I’m glad that a 12 year old could play Spore, but don’t expect me to enjoy doing the same things as them. It great that you are releasing this game on both consoles and PC, but please don’t give me the same clunky and inefficient UI just because you can’t be bothered to make two of them.

    • Wulf says:

      I think games can be things to many people just as films can be. I mean, a 12 year old could play the Ratchet & Clank series, a 12 year old could play Okami, but those are some of my favourite games, which I keep going back to, and Okami is considered one of the greatest gaming accomplishments of all time. All you really need to do is just implement a proper difficulty system, and work complexity into that.

      Look at the Witcher, it’s a fantastic example (I loved that game). On the easiest difficulty you could play it without mastering alchemy, on the medium difficulty you could play it with some alchemy knowledge, on the hardest you couldn’t play it unless you had an incredibly strong and unshakable grasp of how alchemy worked in the game. I thought that was ingenious and highly original, there’s so much I could praise about the Witcher. So much.

      Complexity can be tied into difficulty settings, beyond that, we can have voice acted dialogues (for the visually impaired), captions (for the hearing impaired), easy to understand UIs, and things of the sort to allow people to get into things more easily, and then they could tune the difficulty up as they wanted.

      That’s my dream for gaming. That and more wildly creative worlds for games to be set in.

    • MarkN says:

      I was better at Defender when I was 12 than I am now. You want hardcore gaming – go play Defender. 12 year olds aren’t the problem.

      The problem is getting people to look beyond the casual stuff, IMO. I reckon we need more gateway games. I’m all for more accessible games because more people, of all ages, will find their way to the hardcore via them. Harry Potter hasn’t killed literature – I’m guessing it’s just led to more folk reading. Accessible games should do the same for gaming. We just need better gateways that show what the medium is capable of, and encourage them to move on from simpler fare to something a bit meatier.

    • malkav11 says:

      That’s just it, though. It’s been established that Harry Potter wasn’t a gateway to anything. People that read other stuff continued to read other stuff, people that normally didn’t read just made an exception for Harry Potter… or Oprah’s book club, or whatever, and that was it. And that’s my impression of efforts to draw in nongamers like the Wii – people grab whatever minigame collection appealed to them, maybe a couple others, flail some, and that’s it. No new audience for the games folks like us care about.

  14. Keith Nemitz says:

    Let’s not forget the power of accessibility. ‘Spear of Destiny’ was accessible. It offered super simple controls. It spawned the FPS mega-genre. If it’s controls hadn’t been so smooth, I doubt we’d be soaking our wrists every night.

    There are other examples where a modern core genre started as an accessible (for the audience) product. Innovative games require familiarization before intimacy. It’s that simple. Facebook games need to be accessible for their audience, but they are gradually getting more complex. (very gradually)

    Another example, core gamers think adventure games were text adventures that became graphical point and click. Text adventures are incredibly NOT accessible. Graphical adventures expanded the audience massively, but not enough to save them. Their basic gameplay was puzzles, which got more challenging as the audience matured. They got less easy to play. Today the adventure game is starting from scratch as Hidden Object Games. The future of adventure games (and I grimace at this) will be defined by the UI of HOGs. Although, I’m holding out hope that these gamers will learn advanced controls, such as Point and Click, eventually.

    Then there are perfectly respectable casual games: Plants Vs. Zombies, Puzzle Quest, Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! I don’t hear core gamers griping about their accessibility.

    Give accessibility a break. It gave you one.

    • choconutjoe says:

      It’s true that quality and accessibility aren’t mutually exclusive. But for every Radiohead there’s a hundred Coldplays. Accessibility and blandness often go hand-in-hand.

  15. Sonic Goo says:

    I get the feeling people are mistaking the word ‘accessible’ for something else. This is what accessibility does:

    Here’s how you start a model T Ford:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxb5R4rSgxE

    Here’s how you start a Dodge Viper:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrZbhNyoZTc

    See the difference? Does that make the second one a worse car? I don’t think so.

    • Tim Ward says:

      If “more accessible” meant “not having a terrible user interface” no one would have a problem with it. Unfortunately, it’s often industry code word for “we have removed all the interesting and non-derivative elements from this game”.

  16. mandrill says:

    Why is it that the organisers of all the major conventions haven’t got their act together and sorted out professional quality videoing of major presentations? As things stand we have to settle for shaky-cam versions of talks from some really interesting people, better than nothing, but it could be sooo much better. Something akin to TED for gamers would be awesome.

  17. Mark says:

    I don’t understand why “accessible” is automatically interpreted to mean “bad” around these parts.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      More accessibility can be a good or a bad thing but telling the more traditional audience they have to accept “accessibility” to be accepted by the mainstream sets off alarm bells. Something like Super Mario Galaxy is really accessible and core gamers didn’t need to be told to like it, they just did. Being issued with an admonishment like this seems much more to be “yes we’re chasing broad but bland appeal (profit baby!) and you’re just a spergy nerd if you don’t welcome it with open arms.”

    • Nick says:

      then try reading the numerous posts explaining it.

    • Tim Ward says:

      Because that’s often what it [i]does[/i] mean. Take SupCom 2. That was supposed to be “more accessible”. Was it? No, it was just another RTS game. In reality, it was no more accessible to the non-gamer/non-rts player than the original. Maybe even less so, since it was more grounded in genre conventions established by Starcraft.

      That’s why the phrase is distrusted, because where it should mean “we’ve improved the user interface” – something no one except an RTS pro-gamer could possible object too – but in reality it means removing all the interesting and original gameplay elements and making something which is basically genre standard: this is not making the game more accessible to a non-gamer audience (who would be just as flummoxed by either, if we really believe games are so mystifying to people who don’t play them) but trying to make it as acceptable as possible to as broader section of the existing audience and ultimately, therefore, bland.

      Take STALKER. If they said tomorrow they were going to make STALKER 2 “more accessible” what do you think it would mean: no bugs, better interface, more information through the UI? Nope, it’d mean “it’ll be a corridor shooter”.

      That is why the phrase always sets off alarm bells when heard in pre-release PR.

  18. mpxd says:

    Accessibility in and of itself is not a problem. Accessibility at the cost of entertainment, is.

    I don’t care who finds my favorite games “easy to play”, and i would actually be much happier if i could successfully share the experience of playing them with more people.

    I do care that my favorite games entertain me, and I am rabidly against changes which would harm that entertainment.

    An accessible game is worthless to me if i do not find it fun. Try and convince me that i should twiddle my thumbs (accessible to everyone! (with thumbs)) instead of playing ‘un-accessible’ games like PST or Deus Ex.

  19. Shamanic Miner says:

    This issue is going to get worse when Kinect and Move are released on the consoles. There’s a real sense from both communities that they present a shift to the casual market and away from them, despite the fact that the types games they consider “hardcore” won’t be going anywhere.

    On the PC front there’s the fear that as most big-budget games are being made more accessible (and less “PC” in terms of depth and complexity) already, and that a further shift in that direction would be too much to bear. There’s plenty of excellent games that do cater to PC tastes and as such are the best games on any platform if you are that way inclined, they just aren’t the ones advertised on TV. I think there’s a struggle to accept that a game like Minecraft is as worthy as Call of Duty despite putting a hundred hours into it and loving every minute.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      I read somewhere today, forget where I’m afraid, theres increasing disquiet about the fact MS didn’t really announce much beyond kinect at E3 and then announced nothing at Gamescom, they may have put a lot of their eggs into the kinect basket. That said while I worry I’m aping the Wii nay-sayers I really do wonder how successful the Kinect is going to be, for one thing its expensive and another for people who already own a 360 they wont want to share with mum and dad playing kinect sport or whatever so they may well be actively discouraging less game savy people from purchasing.

      In the end though companies will follow the money, if bland casual games are where the profits are then that is where they’ll go.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Kinect is going to fail.

      They showed a game with plenty of cartoony animal types… AND YOU DON’T GET TO FIGHT ANY OF THEM!

  20. PHeMoX says:

    I don’t think games should ever be dumbed down for ‘passer-by’ gamers, or casual gamers as commonly referred to.

    Why can’t they just learn playing games instead of the bullcrap about games holding people’s hands throughout the entire game because they might be too difficult or confusing to play? Fck that.

    Make a good game and the majority will have no problems playing it.

    I don’t mind morons playing games, but please o please don’t make games moronic just so these (exceptions) can play them at their own level. Its why I haven’t bought many games lately.

    I’ve actually returned Splinter Cell: Conviction because they have written on the walls what you’re supposed to do next. What is that all about? Shouldn’t such a game be all about good level design that will naturally and very subtle explain what to do next? Apparently they’ve forgotten all about how proper level design and game design works, even though the level design itself isn’t too horrible.

    I seriously think the whole casual gaming thing might become the downfall of games as a whole in the longer run. It should stay interesting and challenging or they’ll definitely lose me as a gamer for sure.

  21. Johnny says:

    The gaming industry is becoming more like the film industry in that when you’re looking for your die hards or your call of dutys, the big industry has you covered, but when you’re looking for unique experiences, most often you’re gonna have to go digging into the indie scenes.
    Which, to be completely honest, is pretty great. Indie gaming is blooming like never before, and interesting projects that before would have been doomed to modification hell (or it’s Newgrounds equivalent) are now being offered as standalone, finished products to reasonable prices.

    I am just happy we do not have to entierly abandon the AAA gaming market in search for greatness. We still have series like Bioshock that continue to push a healthy ammount of innovation – even if not in the quantities we’d sometimes like.

    The one area I am kind of worried about is indie gaming multiplayer.
    Great titles like Lead and Gold lie nearly empty. Finding a server within your ping range with actual people playing is like rolling dice.

    • V. Profane says:

      What is innovative about Bioshock?

    • Devenger says:

      Your hand can be a gun that fires bees. And with RIGHT-CLICK, too. That’s new, right? *sigh*

    • Johnny says:

      Gameplay? Not much, really.
      The atmosphere and narrative and how it was all put together was if not completely innovative at least pretty unique in it’s own right.

  22. rebb says:

    Is there a higher res/more zoomed in version of this ?

  23. Zwebbie says:

    It’s interesting how Spector’s audience seems to unknowingly be the target of his scorn. While Spector criticises the whole subculture thing, the audience cheers any time any positive thing about games is said. It’s odd, because I read more books than I play games and I wouldn’t go cheering if someone told me book sales are up, or that books are still considered the best communications medium. The whole idea that you can be a ‘gamer’ baffles me, and yes, it’s harmful. You can read books or watch movies whenever or wherever, but if you play a video game, you enter the world of ‘gamers’. It’s entertainment, people, not a culture.

    Anyway! I’m not a big fan of these ‘the medium needs to do x’ speeches, because they’re philosophical crap and I don’t believe in media as semi-conscious entities that strive towards goals. It’s rather better to look at the smaller scale – Warren Spector himself, who is a conscious entity.
    Epic Mickey is, thematically, very accessible to everyone. The characters is familiar and there isn’t really anything that can put you off. That’s what brings people who don’t usually play games in. In terms of gameplay, it doesn’t seem to actually be that simple; it is, in fact, making a lot of use of choice and consequence, one of the more ‘hardcore’ elements of games and the complete opposite of the cinematic dumbing down we’re always riling against.

    I remember how Spector once said that it’s a shame that GTA’s theme makes it so inaccessible for most people. And he’s right. Picking a nice car and just driving around town, getting through traffic, seeing places, listening to the radio and maybe making an occasional jump, that’s the kind of stuff that everyone enjoys. The ultraviolent packaging, not so much.

    Game mechanics don’t always need to be complex; they need to be clever. Portal is so simple that it has only the portals and gravity for mechanics, but it does a lot of interesting things with them. Only all too often is complexity just a way to cover up that the designers aren’t clever enough to come up with one good thing.

    So yay if Warren Spector wants to make a simply clever and appealing game. It’s better than stupidly complex games about space marines.

    • negativedge says:

      “It’s interesting how Spector’s audience seems to unknowingly be the target of his scorn. While Spector criticises the whole subculture thing, the audience cheers any time any positive thing about games is said. It’s odd, because I read more books than I play games and I wouldn’t go cheering if someone told me book sales are up, or that books are still considered the best communications medium. The whole idea that you can be a ‘gamer’ baffles me, and yes, it’s harmful. You can read books or watch movies whenever or wherever, but if you play a video game, you enter the world of ‘gamers’.”

      Oh man, totally. Despite what I said in my own post way down there, it is absolutely true that “gamers” are a complete detriment to anyone with a brain that would like to enjoy video games.

  24. Igor Hardy says:

    What are all these famous designers talking about?

    I never played even one game that was inaccessible.

    • stahlwerk says:

      There is an elephant in the room. The elephant is in a tantrum. The elephant’s tusks are covered in dwarven blood. On the elephant is the image of a dwarf. The dwarf is snoozing. The image is of the art.

    • MarkN says:

      I got into Dwarf Fortress after a fair few abortive efforts, and now love it to bits. Currently I’m trying to penetrate Europa Universalis 3, and am finding it even more of a struggle then DF if anything (maybe because it’s less my cup of tea). I don’t like to make bold claims, but it’s without a shadow of a doubt at least a notch or two below Wii Sports on the accessibility front. In fact I’d say that on a relative scale, it’s very much toward the inaccessible end of the spectrum of games. Perhaps not completely and utterly inaccessible, because clearly a fair few people have gotten into it, but by Christ it’s a long way away from being truly accessible.

      And if France declare war on my realm of Burgundy tomorrow lunchtime despite everything I’ve done to stay out of their way it’s only going to harm my appraisal of this situation.

  25. Max says:

    I hate it when games get “dumbed down” but I also support making accessible games. The problem is that most developers don’t seem to get how to make games accessible. When they hear “accessible” they think “fewer features, simpler difficulty” but the two just don’t equate.

    TF2 is a good example of a complex, challenging game that is very accessible. New players don’t need to know much more than “walk here, shoot them” in order to play and can stick to simple classes like Soldier and Heavy until they start to understand the more complex mechanics and strategies.

    Starcraft 2 also handles complexity well with its ladder system. The noobs and the pros see the exact same controls, the exact same units, the exact same everything – the complexity is hidden away in the micro. A ladder system shields the noobs who don’t care about APM from those who understand the complexity of the game.

    The easiest way to handle both accessibility and complexity is to provide options. Make the game simple on the surface, but with more complex features just out of sight so that players who want a deeper experience can delve in.

  26. stahlwerk says:

    I’ll just leave this here, although it could be posted in the DNF footage thread also:

    The Xbox 360 Gamepad is – aside from its d-pad – a fine controller and one of the best designed products (hw and sw) microsoft put out in recent years. Playing a game with a controller instead of k&m feels like going into a different mind set, it makes it easier for me to focus on gaming itself. The rumble and the trigger buttons adds an enhanced haptic experience in comparison to the work-around-ish nature of using text-input- and pointing-devices for gaming.
    Of course it is not suited to each and every genre, but progress is made with each multi-platform release. And more importantly, developers learn to offer both options in their games, lately I was really suprised how cleverly RUSE pulled off gamepad based RTS-controls.
    Also I’d be willing to learn to use the sticks for FPS games, maybe even with a bit of auto aim. I’m supposed to believe my character knows how to score chicks all night and drive tanks over aliens all day, why shouldn’t he be better at aiming than I am?
    So please dear developers, for the sake of my gaming habits, please keep exploring the ways you can “dumb down” your controls until controlling the game becomes second nature – a cerebellar activity, if you will – so that the rest of our brains can be dedicated to actually playing, enjoying and thinking about the game.

    • Max says:

      Sure, make your FPS game play well with controllers and maybe even include autoaim but for the love of god make those features optional. FPS games on PC that have horrible mouse controls because the developers designed them for an xbox controller are a crime against humanity.

      Most FPS gamers play such games to challenge themselves. Dumbing down the controls infuriates those types of gamers. That’s what games have difficulty sliders for.

    • Freud says:

      Controlling a fps shooter with keyboard+mouse is second nature to me. I feel I am in complete control of where I move, look and shoot. If you were to add auto-aim, you will detract from the immersion I am feeling when I play them.

      Most console shooters aren’t really pure shooters. They tend to make them into third person cover shooters that reduces the need for movement, aiming and reaction and thus fitting the gamepads better. Even then they need to add auto-aim and sometimes even reduce the number of enemies to make it work.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Yes, of course this is a totally subjective thing. Having grown up on hours, days, weekends of doom, quake (+mouselook, a godsend!), q2dm and hl1, but then having quite a long gaming hiatus, I feel that I just don’t posses the skillset anymore. And since I work on my desk with keyboard and mouse all day, shifting that stuff out of the way before I play a quick round of Mirrors Edge is really helping me in appreciating the time set apart from the workplace/tool role the PC would have for the rest of the day.

    • negativedge says:

      This is a complicated post that I don’t really want to address right now, except to say this:

      I do wish we could get some kind of analog WASD set up, as a pad has a distinct and irrefutable advantage over the keyboard in this regard.

  27. karry says:

    Can someone tell me again who is this guy and why his opinion matters ? In all his projects he’s listed as “producer”, and its a fact that in many of them ideas came from other people, so what did he actually DO ?

  28. Monchberter says:

    Accessibility in hardcore gaming?

    It’s been done. It’s called Portal, and Team Fortress 2.

    Valve have done it already

    (In the future, the near future I see an internet meme basically riffing on the South Park ‘Simpsons did it’ episode, but with Valve as the annoying smartass company that always got there first)

    • stahlwerk says:

      I found TF2 to be inaccessible to me. I mean, I “got” the humour and playing engineer was great fun, but I just don’t possess the dexterity, dpi, whatever for the core gameplay. I quickly got frustrated, and then filed it under “glad it came in the ridiculous orange box deal”.

      Portal on the other hand was totally fine, although I never was able to put a dent in the time trials, and some turret parts gave me a lot of trouble.

      Maybe I’m more Pool or Golf than Squash?

    • Markced says:

      First person gives my girlfriend motion sickness.

  29. Hippo says:

    One thing that I always find funny is the large publishers’ idea of who “casual gamers” are, and what their tastes are like.

    My uncle is a casual gamer. He discovered gaming when he was about 60. He’s now 70. He does not play The Sims. He does not play Wii games. He does not play Facebook stuff. He sees consoles as children’s toys, more or less. He plays flight sims and first person shooters. His favourite games are IL2, Flight Sim and Red Orchestra.

    Obviously, when EA or Activision, or Warren Spector for that matter, talk about making games that would appeal to casual gamers, they don’t consider people like my uncle. He, and other casual gamers like him, seem to be completely invisible to them. It’s strange.

    (It’s also a bit sad. Every time he talks with me, he asks me if there’s anything new that would interest him. Mostly, I have to say no. And as he’s old, I’m beginning to realize that he might very well be dead by the time the industry wakes up to the fact that not all casual gamers are women and kids)

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      Really unclear how someone who plays flight sims and first person shooters can be considered a “casual gamer.” You have to tell your uncle, “sorry, no one’s making FPS games anymore.” That doesn’t seem to be the problem to me. The problem, to me, seems to be too many FPS games.

    • Hippo says:

      icupnimpn2: If it’s unclear how someone who plays first person shooters and flight sims can be called a “casual gamer”, then you have the same flawed idea of who “the casual gamer” is that publishers and developers have.

      The Flight Sim-series have appealed to casual gamers for years (why do you think it has been so popular?). Just not the same kind of casual gamer who plays The Sims. The casual gamers who like Flight Sim are typically older men, who are interested in the subject matter; and there are quite a few of them around.

      As for first person shooters, you have to understand what kind of stuff my uncle plays. He’s got a very specific taste. Halo is obviously not interesting to him, nether is Duke 3D or whatever. Or Modern Warfare 2 for that matter. He’s interested in the authentic, historical stuff. Preferably WW2.

      Yes, it’s a genre that hardcore gamers also like. No, that doesn’t mean you’re a hardcore gamer if you like that genre.

  30. Michael says:

    If you’re worried about the censorship of games then by far the best way to fight that is to broaden the market. When tabloids attack sex and violence in films and television, they have to take into account the fact that most of their readership consumes those media and would not want absolute censorship. When they attack games, however, they can ignore the minority of their readers who consider games to be a legitimate medium for adult themes and instead make whatever hyperbolic demands they like.

    What we need are middle-aged mothers playing games which include mild violence and sexual themes. Once we have that, we won’t need to defend gaming any more. We will have won. To achieve that, we have to go down the route of accessibility.

    And it’s not really a problem. There will still be hardcore games for hardcore gamers. The trouble is that they won’t be the centre of attention any more. And that will make the old skool very sad.

    This argument is not about what games should be, it’s about who’s getting all the attention.

  31. negativedge says:

    Another part of me rues how unwieldy the last paragraph is, before thinking “fuck it, the people who are going to have something interesting to say about this can deal with a few too many clauses.”

    I hope this was meant to be ironic, given the content of the post.

    Here is the thing: we don’t expect things that are not video games to cater to our inadequacies. We learn a great deal about making writing accessible and clear and whatever in elementary school and even in high school. Then we go to college and read Ulysses and A Critique of Pure Reason.

    Are these bad works? Were we taught improperly in high school?

    Neither, of course. Clarity and accessibility are good things. They are, however, not necessary things. If it is advantageous to forgo them, or impossible to include them, then that is what we do. Taking a trip down Tutorial Lane does not make a video game accessible–it makes it bad, because it runs counter to the idea of the video game, which is to explore a given play space via extrapolation of a specific rule set. When someone with no familiarity with literature, writing, philosophy, theology, Irish history, modern thought, or linguistics picks up Ulysses and puts it down because the book was not metaphorically handed to them, we do not blame the book. We should ask for a game to have a clear, intuitive interface, a play space conducive to manipulation of the game rules, and a means of teaching the player its nuances through experimentation (whether failed or successful in a binary sense, experimentation should always benefit the player in a greater, more abstract manner). In short, we should ask that the game is well designed. Anything beyond that is on the player, and no one should apologize for this.

    Of course, this is quite different from lamenting the sales of Wii Fit or whatever. I don’t care about these “concerns” because they are of no value to anyone that isn’t a marketer or game company exec. You shouldn’t care about them either–rather, you should ask whether or not these are good games given their aims. If they are, great. If they aren’t, move on.

  32. DMcCool says:

    Inaccessable? Inaccessable to who? Paper thin stories, idiotic, muscle-head characters, sexualised objects of women and gameplay mechanics that are accessable in that they are established easily and never differ, these things make the more casual mainstream less accessable for me. If there is nothing to a game but save the princess and I know withen 30 minutes all the gaming twitches I’ll need to complete it and only scenery will change on my grind to the end, this game is a turn off. Oh, the problems get more difficult and vary slightly as the game goes on? I don’t care if you aren’t willing to engage me on emotional or intellectual level at some point.

    I’m being disingenuous. My point is “accessability” is really a matter of taste. A lot of people – generally PC Gamers really like their games to be challenging and deep, even from the outset. Neither side is right, its just a massive matter of taste.

    Hard to penetrate games are no less a symptom of game’s inability to grow up and except the benefits of a larger auidence than Dostoyetsky’s is to the novel. Gaming is a long, long way from the novel right now make no mistake, but when we reach a similar leve of finese, intricacy and meaning, those games still won’t be the best-selling digital download chart toppers (or whatever). They’ll be just one of many flavours, the flavours more numerous and delicious than our curren generation gamer minds can conprehend.

    In a way Spector is right, we shouldn’t bemoan games for appealing to the mainstream, but neither should we necessarily give a flying fuck what he or anyone else does while they are in the mainstream, thinking it reflects on “gaming” as a whole. There is no such thing as gaming as a whole, there are games, lots of them, and developers, lots also (but not as much). If you don’t like casual games, don’t complain about them, in the meantime we are permited to wait patiently for Spector to come to his senses and make Immersive Sims again. Because he really was head of the best ever studios at it, and, frankly, we already have a lot of people pretty fantastic at making causal games, right?

    Thats what I think anyway.

  33. drewski says:

    Is Plants vs Zombies mainstream? Then I love mainstream.

    Is Modern Warfare 2 mainstream? Then I hate mainstream.

    OR

    I don’t want zombies on my lawn, but I’m pretty OK with terrorists in the Russian villa.

  34. Urthman says:

    It’s almost like we yearn to get accepted by mainstream media and yet once they start paying attention to us, once casual gamers start flocking to our world, we start complaining about it. We get upset when developers try to reach a broader audience.

    If only games could be more like mature art forms such as books and movies.

    You never see movie aficionados complain about mainstream movies trying to appeal to a broad audience. You never see book lovers complain that best sellers are dumbed-down.

  35. Mr Booger says:

    I have absolutely nothing against making games more accessible. Every human being should be able to, if they wish, experience the sublime joy that is gaming, regardless of prior experience. I do, in addition, think that some elements of ‘mainstream’ gaming need to go away- the hypersexualized Mary Sue characters, the paper-thin plots, the regurgitated settings, the profound lack of originality- for the benefit of both the gaming public and the general public. What I do not want to see disappear, however, is the element of struggle in games. I don’t mean complexity, or depth, but I do mean games that make you sweat blood and cry concentrated rage-fluid to get anywhere.

    Let’s take the beloved Dwarf Fortress as an example. The interface is terrible. The graphics are obtuse. The in-game help is negligible. And yet, once you have a fully-functioning fortress (assuming you haven’t resorted to the wiki), the feeling you get is truly beyond compare. Even the ride was wonderful, not knowing what would happen when I put this there, and laughing as my fortress fell to pieces. When I started playing Hearts of Iron III, I had next to no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t have a comprehensive wiki to fall back on. So I built what seemed like a good idea to build, and I did what I thought would be best. I screwed up the invasion of Belgium. On Easy. And, I loved it. In Men of War, I barely knew how to control the camera, and there I was defending a factory from hundreds of German troops and dozens of tanks. And it was glorious. Even if the games of the future are complex enough to make today’s games look like Musical Chairs with more chairs than people, if they hold my hand every step of the way through, something precious will have been lost along the way.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my rant.

  36. Sassenach says:

    I remember when this was all X-Com.

  37. bill says:

    Accessibility and dumbing down don’t seem to be the same thing to me. They overlap at times, but they are different. In the same way that difficulty and frustration are different.

    For me, the core point is whether the decision/change makes the game better or worse.

    Sometimes accessibility can involve adding features, but dumbing down always seems to involve removing them. It depends on the game and the feature in question as to whether that’s a good idea.

    For some games, the complexity IS the game. Tie-fighter with simplified controls is essentially just “shoot the moving dot”. The controls and complexity make the game.

    The complex controls of something like early dos games rarely add anything to the game, and so the accessibility improvements of Oblivion over Ishar are almost all positive. (though some other parts of the game might not be).

    Having 2 guns and being able to quickly use melee is fine in most games, it’s more accessible and faster in tight situations. It’s dumb in Duke Nukem where half the fun is having loads of weird weapons and using them to create chaos.

    I think the all out quest for accessibility has lead to too much dumbing down, but I also think it’s lead to a lot of improvements. The problem seems to come when devs see accessibility and mainstream acceptance as their goal – rather than creating a good game/experience.

    Pixar movies are highly accessible, but I don’t get the impression that they start by thinking “ok, what’s a really easy to understand simple idea that we can make a mainstream movie out of?”. Recently I start to worry that that’s exactly what Spector is doing. He’s putting the cart before the horse – so to speak.

    Maybe that’s why many of the past few years most interesting games have been totally inaccessible games that came out of eastern europe. But they were also creative and tried new things – rather than following the easily-accessible norms. They weren’t mainstream games, but i suspect many of their ideas will get incorporated into mainstream games.

  38. Ovno says:

    [quote]You never see movie aficionados complain about mainstream movies trying to appeal to a broad audience. You never see book lovers complain that best sellers are dumbed-down.[/quote]

    So there wasn’t a massive backlash about the Davinci Code from book lovers then…

    And you don’t get film buffs complaing massively about such tripe as all the dumbed down remakes of classics such as the italian job and oceans 12/13…

  39. jay says:

    I still believe in Warren Spector.

  40. The Sombrero Kid says:

    If games are successful at being games and not some other more primitive medium they would successfully adapt to the player, the holy grail in someways is a game that can become something enjoyable to everyone with zero effort on their part, the key here is to become accessible without degrading in quality.

    something heavily simulation based, I’ve been playing a lot of minecraft lately and it can be as easy or as difficult as accessible or as hardcore as you need it to be, but unfortunately and this is fundamentally bad game design, it isn’t without zero effort from the player you ave to learn to make it into something you want it to be.

  41. Grakkus says:

    The problem here is more that to cater to the mainstream, you have to release simplistic and often shallow games for them to understand what is going on. Geeks tend to be intellectuals, they can handle, and indeed often want more in-depth games, so they get annoyed when the next X-COM end up being a mindless bioshock clone rather than a new instalment of the groundbreaking tactical squad shooter that it once was. Put simply, the problem is that the mainstream are, on the whole, stupid, and to give them things they can deal with means taking away our nice things.

  42. Eth-Zee says:

    I believe that was sarcasm, dear. Also, bbcode doesn’t work on these here forums.

  43. pipman3000 says:

    there is a hardcore accessible game. it’s called civ4 and it’s awesome and not at all “dumbed down” like the beardos like to say about games that try to be more inclusive every game ever made.

  44. Demon Beaver says:

    Still waiting for a Dwarf Fortress interface that I (12 year long gamer) can comfortably play…

  45. geldonyetich says:

    As one of the most vitriol-filled angsty core gamer who dislikes the move to casual-gamers-ville, I’ve a bit of a hint for Mr. Spector as to why there’s a bee in my bonnet: It’s not that it bothers me you’re trying to be popular, it’s that it bothers me that you dumb down your games to the point of being boring for me as a part of the process of trying to make it casual-accessible.

    That’s not necessary. You just need to provide casual players a nice slope to get used to a more advanced game, while allowing core gamers to skip straight to that advanced game without all that boring drag through kiddiesville.

  46. SheffieldSteel says:

    An accessible game isn’t poor quality, or dumbed-down, or bland and mainstream.

    An accessible game is simply one that’s easy for people to get into. It’s just like a building that either has a flight of steps at the front, or a wheelchair ramp, or – ideally – both. That way everyone can go inside.

    Whether there is anything at the top of the ramp worth seeing… that’s a different question.

  47. FNLW says:

    But isn’t complexity necessary for depth? Consider checkers and chess: in checkers, there are only two different kinds of pieces, and the second kind of piece moves like the first kind, but in reverse; in chess, there are six kinds of pieces, each with a different way to move. Chess is ordinarily held to be the deeper game, and it is deeper because it has so much more potential for variety, thanks to those six kinds of pieces, than has checkers. Mastering chess means mastering its potential for variety–mastering its many parts. Why not go further, and say that what we call “depth” is a kind of complexity?

    The complexity usually derided here is that of a game’s interface or of its surface tendencies, rather than that of a game itself. I would hate to see an equivocation lead people to deride complexity while praising depth, not realizing that they are, in some sense, the same.

  48. DMcCool says:

    You may have missed his climbing gear, but he was absailing down a Sarcasm (I’m sorry).

  49. LimeWarrior says:

    I actually want to play Epic Mickey.

  50. Fermin Frock says:

    Whoa! I have already been looking bing all night in this and i eventually think it is right here!