Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Conquering space in games

Previous game consoles had you gaged in a story or an adventure, where you can interact with the game in order to "level up" - somehow proceed further. Other games, such as Tetris, gave you a logic puzzle of sort to solve, where the player is passively active in the background controlling the fate of their character or their game. The controller (let it be a keyboard, a joystick, etc) was the way for you to guide the game and be a part of it.
Wii changed all that, by breaking the space barrier between the player and the game. No longer are you an outsider that tells the characters or the pieces how to move - you actually have to move them yourself. A prime example of this are sports games that are available on wii, where you are no longer controlling a player to perform as action, but you are the player playing on the baseball field, a tennis court, or inside the bowling alley. The way you physically play allows you to emerse yourself within the surroundings of your screen, as you run up towards the screen in order to throw a bowling ball, or save the falling girl that you love (MONAAA) by reaching out to her with a motion towards the screen. Although you are not physically inside the game's environments, you become a big component of it as you summon the world you play in onto the screen. As someone has previously stated, this is possibly the closest we've gotten to virtual reality, in terms of technology that is available to the mass public.

Since wii has been the popular topic to blog about, I figured I'd talk about a very different game, that unlike the wii, garnered very few spectators who lasted only for a moment, although they kept on coming back to see if anything else was learned. Yes, I am talking about Cloud, the experimental game from USC. Unlike Wario Ware Smooth Moves (Nintendo Wii), where you were told how to use your controller and you had to figure out within 5 seconds what was the task at hand, Cloud offered very little explanation about your objective as you explored the world for a very long duration (until you got bored or gave up?). If you poke around enough, you can find out the controlls of the game (Thank you "h"), but although you learn how to consume a cloud, spit it out, and fly around, your objective remains unclear. The reason I decided to bring this is for the following question: Which game brings you closer to a virual reality - the world of Wario Ware Smooth Moves where you are physically emmerse yourself and complete 5-10second tasks; or the world of Cloud, where you must emerse yourself for a long duration in attempt to explore the world and learn about it. And did anyone figure out the objective of Cloud?



Blogger Phoebe_A said...

Another aspect to consider when dealing with the Wii versus Cloud, is the idea of what it would be like to play these games in a room by yourself. Without the constant attention of the people around you, would you still be interested in performing such simplistic tasks required by the Wii? If you were by yourself, would you have the patience to sit through a game of Cloud in order to find out the objective, whether there is one? Another game that reminds me of Cloud is Echo, where you are a dolphin swimming around. In Echo, you have to randomly explore the ocean and speak to other dolphins in order to find an objective or the story. Mentally, games such as Echo and Cloud can be more challenging than Wario Ware due to the uncertainty created by not giving a definite goal or objective from the beginning. Personally, if I had played the games alone, I don’t think Wario Ware on the Wii would hold my interests as much as Echo could.

4/12/2007 11:43 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

I agree with Phoebe. It should be noted that the wii was created as more of a family entertainment console, versus systems like the Playstation (more single player) or the Xbox (online gaming), and is more suited for group enjoyment. Also, the non-linearity also lends itself to group effort, since a sharp increase in difficulty or complexity would single out the more experienced players and leave the amateurs behind. An RPG would be even more confusing if the control were to be switched around because of the continuing storyline, as would a game like Cloud. If I were to play Cloud on my own, I might have spent more time thinking about it, but due to the group atmosphere during the screening, I was more attracted to playing the wii for its entertainment (and performance) value.

4/21/2007 9:10 PM  

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