Koster Continued

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"We do in fact evolve games that are more suited to our modern lives."

Chapter 4 in Koster's book focuses on what games teach us, and basically they teach us survival skills.  That does not mean that all skills needed for survival have continued in games.  Koster points to the example of grain harvesting games that have now become obsolete because of our changing culture.  (Why is Facebook's Farmville so popular today then?)  I also appreciated that Koster discussed how designers often start with a previous game and only tweak it slightly.  This relates to our class's previous discussions on older video games and the variations that they have spawned.

"So fun isn't flow."

Koster deals with what games are not in Chapter 5 of his book; they're not about delight, social status, or stories.  They are about learning where there is no pressure.  Koster did a nice job of explaining his reasoning; however, I sort of disagree with Koster's statement that "people don't play games because of the stories."  What about the Final Fantasy series?  Isn't the story an essential part of the game?

"Girls who play "boys' games" such as sports tend to break out of traditional gender roles years later, whereas girls who stick to "girls' games" tend to adhere to the traditional stereotypes more strictly."

The above research presented by Koster in Chapter 6 made me think of a recent discussion that my sisters and I had regarding the Nintendo Wii's approach to attracting new gamers by producing gender-specific games.  Will those games affect the quality and quantity of female gamers in the future?

Interested in what other people are saying about Koster?  Read it here.

2 Comments

Jessie Krehlik said:

I think the Wii games will definitely have an impact on at least the quantity of female gamers out there. Look at what DDR has done for the female gaming industry. Even Guitar Hero and Rock Band has opened doors for female gamers. It seems like game designers are finally reaching out to both audiences. It's about time.

Raph Koster said:

The book was written LONG before Farmville became the most popular game in history. :) So I might need to update that part!

Most of the research on the Final Fantasy series (and similar games) showed that core gamers tended to skip all the movies. More casual gamers were the ones more invested in the story. Me personally, I would just as soon skip the game bits and watch just the story! But in general, heavily story-driven titles with interstitial game elements have tended to have the story bits ksipped -- it has been a real challenge for the industry to successfully tell stories that users didn't skip over. Probably the real turning point there was Half-Life, and most all modern games emulate its style of interwoven storytelling rather than Final Fantasy's.

I am really enjoying reading the class reactions by the way! :)

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