Video Game Terms: Debate
When it comes to terms used in video games, or to describe them, everyone has a different opinion on what they mean. For those of you that may not have known, I am currently going to college at ITT Technical Institute for Digital Entertainment and Game Design. In a nutshell, it means I want to become a video game designer. The problem is, what we are being taught, and what we have always thought have been the definition of terms used in the industry, tend to clash with each other greatly. Take the following examples for instance, and tell me what you think of these.
Our latest assignment we were given involved creating an interface design for a fake squad-based tactical game called “Chain of Command“. Of course it isn’t that simple, there are many stipulations to it. You play as the squad leader, giving commands to three other commandos under your control. You are a player in this game, so you still have control over yourself. You play in a third-person viewpoint, and most of the combat is fought in outdoor environments.
The target audience for this game is 18-34 year olds, who are into a casual-gaming experience. Here’s where my first argument came into play. What is the difference between casual and hardcore, if we’re going to get into using these terms? In society, most people who think “casual” when it comes to video games think of people who enjoy playing something like the Nintendo Wii, or being able to pick up a game and play it without having too much trouble. That definition is actually close, looking back, but it’s wrong. When I think of a shooter game at all, though, the last thing I think of is a “casual” audience. Yet, supposedly my teacher tells me that more and more casual game players have been picking up shooter games since September 11th, because it makes them feel like they’re in the action and helping. I don’t believe a word of that, because I haven’t heard one person say that that is the reason why they would play a shooter game, if anything, I’ve heard people be more against shooters since that day. In the end, I was explained that a casual game player is someone who is able to pick up a game, learn the controls quickly, and be able to play for a short amount of time without being tied down by it. Once again, I bring up my point that I don’t agree that any shooter game, especially one with squad tactics, can be considered “casual”, but I was forced to do this assignment with that mindset.
In this game, you need to have the choice of which squad member you want to select, individually, or as a group. You also need to be able to designate a waypoint for your units, and finally, be able to issue an order movement. The three order movements are Check Position, which makes your team approach the target cautiously; Double-Time, which makes your team move to the target in the fastest speed possible; and Patrol, which makes your team follow the series of waypoints that you’ve previously set down. Using all of this, you are to create a button combination that would be best for a casual game player.
Now, just to argue semantics, for fun, I would never have an order in a game called “Double-Time”. Unless you’re making a military-specific hardcore game, where the people who play know exactly what that order means, you will never use an order like that. And the military-specific games have never been huge popular sellers anyways.
The main problem with this is that you can’t just map one button to be exactly one thing. You still need to be able to move your own character properly, and have actions for them, as well as being able to issue commands to your squad, meaning that you will have some buttons that will actually have multiple functions. The line between “casual” and “hardcore” I felt was tread very hard in this aspect, because the way we were taught, we were made to believe that having a player press multiple buttons at once was too much for a simple game to have, yet in this example, we were requiring the player to remember that one button would actually have two different actions depending on the situation that it was used in. Also, I can’t remember the last squad based shooter that I’ve played where you’ve actually been able to just control one or two of your squad mates, without being forced to move them all to the position that you designate.
My issue with all of this is simple. I feel that the curriculum is either old, and doesn’t make sense in today’s modern game-creation norm; or it is just made by someone who makes a book, and doesn’t know anything about the industry itself anymore, nullifying my interest in learning something that doesn’t actually have any hold in the industry now. Yet, our teacher has been in the industry, and claims that most of this is true, and that game companies actually will use such an idea for a game. I argue that greatly, because I can’t remember the last time I’ve ever seen a game use any of these kinds of tactics recently. Unfortunately, I’m just here to learn what they are teaching me, and therefore I need to abide by their rules. Anyways, enough of my rambling. What is your opinion on this assignment, and the terms and wording used?
By the way, here is the control interface that I came up with in the end: