Mad Gamer Skillz

Tycho of Penny Arcade (http://www.penny-arcade.com) posted this:

"I picked my mom up a copy of Phantom Hourglass when it came out, partly because I hoped she would enjoy it but mostly because I wanted to observe her as a kind of test subject. I think of the new Zelda as almost didactic in its simplicity, but when you lack the basic grammar of interactivity most virtual worlds are overwhelming. She couldn’t quickly tell, as you or I could, which things on a given screen were actually operable. There’s a suite of universal skills we bring to every scenario, survival techniques which are tailored exclusively to simulations."

This rings so…true to me. I’ve seen my own mother having a hard time figuring out whether something is a button to be clicked on, and I know my wife doesn’t understand the FPS user interface. And as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Portal threw me because I’m conditioned to expect scary monsters in that type of game, and Portal didn’t have any.

Games teach, and one of the most obvious things they teach is How To Play Games. We gamers don’t understand just how far we’ve come, just how facile we are with game technology. We marvel about the evolution of the game controller, with progressively more buttons. We don’t understand that *we* evolved along with those controllers, that we had to start with two buttons and a d-pad, and (collectively) work our way up to the current-gen monstrosities.

So it’s no wonder that games with wider appeal seem stupidly simple to us. We’re in college, but others are in kindergarten. And our degree means nothing. And may actively keep us from designing and enjoying truly new games. Either Majicthise or Vroomfondel famously said, "our minds must be too highly trained."http://www.penny-arcade…

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