Friday, 16 March 2012

     OK, a few words on Game Design…

     So firstly, it’s not difficult to spot that through gaming’s evolution over the years, many things have not been lost, dating way back to board games. So we’re talking prehistory, here. The earliest known board game is Senet, invented in ancient Egypt, the rules of which are still unknown, but can be assumed to play similar to chess. So, let’s take a look at the boards of Senet, Chess/Draughts, and Battleships. Remind you of anything?

     So that’s strategy games basically covered; then there’s games that involve simply getting from place to place- usually based on luck, such as the rolling of the die, but more importantly, many games will have gimmicks on certain or all tiles. In other words, once the player reaches a tile/area, the player must take an action/overcome a trial based on where they are on the board/game-world. See where I’m going with this? In fact, one could consider Monopoly to be the first (game) World Map. Okay, so obviously the concept of the World Map is far more likely to be based off of actual maps- it’s more like games have borrowed elements from ye olde boarde. Such as ‘Warp Zones’, and in games where your route is automated (such as Starwing), being able to alter your course from the standard (or indeed logical) route by performing to a certain standard, taking a different route, or performing certain actions.

     Then we have card games. In Poker, we make decisions based on our prediction of what our opponent is thinking. Cheat is based on trickery and memory (that old trick of claiming to put down two cards of the same number/suite, and actually putting down three or four?), while Pontoon is based on a mixture of luck and decision-making and Snap, of course, is all about reflexes and reaction time. All of these pretty much sum up a vast majority of video games, right? The only major exception being the point-and-click genre, which is basically Cluedo. (Adventure games are an odd one, since they derive more from text-based adventure games, which came pretty much directly from literature, so one could think of the Adventure genre as adopted by games).

     It’s not just games with rules, though; isn’t The Sims just a huge digital custom-made dolls house? (Dolls with a hard-wired passionate instinctive NEED to commit mass-murdering kamikaze arson should they so much as glance at a barbeque. Or a microwave. Or a toaster…) Isn’t the Character Creation feature in countless fighting games and MMORPGs just guys playing Barbie without their sexual orientation feeling threatened?

     …But basically, when you boil it all down to the very basics, games are simply a series of decisions. Much like real life, only getting one wrong can’t ruin everything forever in the real world. Because you crazy we crazy humans like making decisions: it makes us feel important.