Gaming as a Parent – Part 1 – Redesigning Games for Gamer Parents
This week has been a long one – between, school, running around, work, and trying to get a business idea off the ground, this blog has been a little neglected. I really hope to be contributing twice a week, so please continue to keep an eye on this space.
After submitting my initial post on n4g.com, I actually received a decent amount of feedback! I am not alone as a gamer dad who is starved for gaming time, and as one colleague put it, he felt that he wasn’t the only one on a “sinking ship”.
Don’t get me wrong, family life is awesome and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, not even this, but sometimes it wouldn’t hurt to get a litte more time in. I was hoping to play some New Super Mario Bros. with the kids, but we just couldn’t find the time. My wife and I had a bit of an argument, and she went to bed early, so I figured how can I really piss her off? Stay up late playing video games! Yeah, that’ll teach her! And how did my rebellion end? Well, the week of school, running around, work and launching a business idea took its toll, and by midnight I had fallen asleep 3 times with a controller in my hand. It wasn’t the quality of the games (I played Double Dragon Neon, Red Dead Redemption and Sam and Max: The Penal Zone), it was the lack of features that really make gaming as a dad MUCH easier.
Here are some features that I feel that game designers should consider, as well as WHY I think they are needed. These features aren’t just for parents that want to game, but rather features for the old-school gamers like myself that find themselves gaming at odd/inconsistent hours.
1. Take Wii Fit’s Reminders to the Nth Level
If you are like me, you bought Wii Fit for your wife, played it for 4 hours, hurt a lot the next day, and then repeated the process daily in lower time increments, until you hit about the two week mark and then that was it. Although, to Nintendo’s credit, there was a Wii Fit channel that reminded you that “Hey, we haven’t seen you in awhile!”. This hybrid between a guilt/we miss you/notification system could really help gamer dads like myself, but it would have to be really souped up. Rather than in an game or in console notification, why am I not getting texts to my phone telling me, hey, you are this far from milestone x, or this DLC is out, or hey, you haven’t played this in 6 months! Yeah, I need to patent this one.
2. Offer More Timesaving DLC
When Street Fighter III: Third Strike released on PSN, I found some of the DLC to be quite clever. Rather then a new slutly costume for some miscelleanous anime chick, I could pay to unlock characters that can be unlocked through a lot of gameplay. Wait, you must be telling yourself “He would pay to unlock stuff that is free anyways?”. If that free stuff takes HOURS that I don’t have for gaming to unlock, damn right I would. Everyday, we pay for timesavers, and outsource portions of our work and lives. Why wouldn’t I do the same here? Got a pain in the ass level, or need a gun to make it past something so that you can squeeze in one more level before some child wakes up screaming? Yeah, that is something that I will pay for, gladly.
3. Make a Super Easy Mode
My thumbs aren’t what they used to be. About three years ago I decided to finish all the old school NES megamans again, and after finishing them I vowed never again. I literally went to Hell and back. There’s some awesome games now, but some are difficult enough that I can’t make it to an accetpable milestone (next level, power up, trophy, etc…) without a serious time commitment. And to be honest, some games have really stepped up their storyteling, and I really want to play a game through until the end. Fine, I won’t platinum it, but I can see the whole story and feel like a badass. What else could a has-been gamer ask for?:-)
4. More Games like Telltales’s The Walking Dead
I love zombies. I, like many others, am fully convinced that when this world does end, it will be zombie related, period. No famines, floods, earthquakes, mutant TB strains etc… just good old fashioned zombies. But this doesn’t mean that the zombies that I enjoy on TV and in comics are always as easy to enjoy in the gaming world. Despite the controversial overtones, I did enjoy Resident Evil 5 (although 4 is still my favourite), but sometimes I need something that is easier to control, feels compelling, and still feels like a game. In this regard, Telltale’s interpretation of The Walking Dead is perfect. It is exactly the type of game that my demographic needs, and I think there is room for more games like it. Easy controls, great characters, some QTE’s so that I feel that I am actually pressing buttons in a time frame that matters, and some clear and logical progressions. There is nothing worse then playing a game and wasting half an hour looking for some silly goal. Sometimes linear gaming is a good thing I would love to see Telltale do a Batman game next. A guy can dream, can’t he?
5. Save Anywhere, and I Mean ANYWHERE
Yes, I understand that saves should not be intrusive, and should not lower the difficulty of the game. However, I had to abandon Metal Gear Solid 3 because it took me too long to really get anywhere. I felt like saving didn’t really leave me EXACTLY where I was. With the power that game consoles have these days, why can’t I do a suspend of my game? I can close the lid of my 3DS and lose nothing. Why can’t I do the same with a console? I understand that this would hog certain resources, but I could gladly accept games with inferior graphics if the CPU/RAM overhear could be used to suspend a game. Barring this, I want to save anywhere. And I mean like an emergency panic button – if I am in the middle of a cutscene and some child is sick, or there is some other typ of family crisis, I want to save immediately and forget about it until I have time to come back. I don’t care if it’s the middle of a boss fight, or a conversation with a NPC. Anywhere, anytime saves are needed for gamer parents.
Well, that’s about it for today, seeing as Arthur just ended, and if I don’t hurry I’ll have to choose between writing more and eating breakfast. Hopefully a game developer somewhere will hear my pleas.
Article keywords: resdesigning games for gamer parents