Next Level Interactive
Making Interactive Acceptable
By Konstantinos Christakis
Ever since the first video game hit the market, this form of art has been the best way to explore an interactive experience -- the best way to involve the customer in all sorts of combined experiences. Audio and visual were for a long time the most important parts of the video game development art, only until the first few products that explored a third dimension: the level of interactivity the game provides to the player.
The game play had always been important for the overall game development, but year after year, the more games evolved and the more saturated the market became, developers had to take it a step farther. Because of the continuous rise of abundance in different titles, companies had to start thinking out of the box. At first it was all about bringing the prettiest graphics and the most impressive looking animations, but the last five years or so, we have been experiencing a sudden turn to the deeper and less superficial parts of games.
The rise of the indie industry is the best proof for that point. The turn of players to games with less impressive graphic and sound design for the sake of a "deeper plot" or a better gameplay design is constantly showing how people start to care more about the interactive experience the game provides. It is not about the pretty stuff anymore, and that provides a vast range of opportunities the development companies can take to their advantage. Lower production costs, smaller teams and concise ideas alleviate the company of many costs that would previously prove very risky. Risk is also a very important part of this, and numerous companies are finding it much easier than before to introduce something new to the public.
Let's take this analysis a step farther though. Are games maybe becoming too interactive? If so, is that a good or a bad thing?
I recently played a game called Cibele. The best way to describe it would be as an interactive journey where the player delves into the various parts of Nina Freeman's life. Nina Freeman is the developer but also the protagonist of the game. The player follows Nina through specific periods of her life. You are allowed to see things that she has on her desktop, such as blog posts, poems, private photos, private messages and emails. Sounds creepy, but you can just think of it as a more intrusive Facebook stalking experience. The game mostly focuses on the part where the player moves Nina's character while she is playing an MMO game in which she meets a guy she will end up having sex with. Ultimately, it is a game of seeing how a young woman experiences meeting people online and later feeling the need to go farther.
I personally loved the game because it gave me a weird feeling that I hadn't experienced before. It was as if I was secretly sneaking into Nina's life without her even realizing I was there the whole time. It felt very intrusive, but that's what games are all about, providing this different interactive experience. Video game development has already accepted the creation of more layered concepts and we, as consumers, need to learn to consume those in a more accepting way.
It's probably more about educating the masses about how they can perceive and understand those kinds of interactive experiences than about making an even more sophisticated game. Younger gamers get a constant flow of AAA franchise shoved in their daily routines, leading to a problem that calls for solving. The titles that have so successfully, for years, allowed companies to have a safer, profit-friendly approach will slowly start to cycle out, and the new wave of different and unique interactive experiences will take their place.
Interactivity in games has already taken a step forward. Shouldn't we take one too?