Gaming Literacy (and Unabashed Wonder) Revisited

Today my friend Caralyn came by to play some Guitar Hero II for the first time. You may remember Caralyn as the friend who claimed to not know how to play video games, which I took as a personal challenge of sorts.

We did indeed play some GH2, but then she asked if I had more games in which “you don’t die” (an interesting characteristic of video games that I’m not sure developers are actively considering, but which my girlfriend also identifies as her preference). She saw the case for Nintendogs, which I’m borrowing from friends for an experiment I’m working on this summer, and asked to play that.

It is amazing how badly we as human beings want to play with cute animals. I don’t even think the “uncanny valley” applies to dogs—even the handheld virtual ones are so cute that Caralyn proclaimed this game better than GH2. And when I told her to blow into the microphone to blow bubbles at the puppies onscreen? “This is like the future!” (Game system sales figures and Nintendo stockholders would probably agree.)

This is an important reminder to me that I must play video games with more newcomers—not because I need to convert them or anything, but because I need to see how people approach this stuff when they haven’t been doing it since they were three years old.

2 thoughts on “Gaming Literacy (and Unabashed Wonder) Revisited

  1. Perhaps interesting to note, the Lucas Art adventure game (which I think were some of the best games ever), were know for the noon-punishing of the user. There was no way to die, lose the game, or even set into course actions that would hinder your overall progress. I think from a way of thinking about encouraging interactivity this was key, a player can explore game space without fear of taking the wrong step. In fact this type of behavior is even rewarded, as trying weird, silly actions would result in humorous incidents.

  2. I think another interesting point along the not dying thing is not losing thing. I don’t play video games (except for Chuzzle which I bought for my wife 🙂 ) mostly because in my High school days, I was the WORST SHOOTER and QUICKEST DEAD in marathon game sessions with my friends (who had managed to memorize all the maps before I managed to work the X, Y, and Z buttons.

    That said, currently my wife’s name occupies every spot on the chuzzle high score board. Generally, I think I’m just lousy at Video Games. 🙂

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