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fimbulwinter

Games for the older player :)

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About a month ago I sent my dad (he''s 62) a copy of a terrain engine I''ve been working on and asked him to test it for me. It''s just a simple heightmap thing nothing special. You can walk around in it and change camera views,etc. He said it worked fine and I didn''t think any more about it. Then a couple of weeks later I spoke to him again, he said he ''plays'' the game for at least ten minutes every day. Now this seemed a little strange to me, I know he likes flight sims which don''t involve a lot of ''action'' but there really is no game in this engine. He also said he gave a copy to his neighbour who is also over 60 and he''s hooked on it too! This made me think, your average 16 year old would have been bored within seconds so what is it that appeals to older people about a game engine in which all you can do is walk around? I know it''s funny but seriously is there a market out there for this sort of thing? Maybe when you get older you need less impressive visual stuff to find an environment immersive or it could be that it''s a generation that''s missed out on the last few years'' advances in technology so they find even simple 3D real time graphics fascinating. Just an idea, perhaps over 50''s are ready for more than just 2D puzzle games, whaddya think?

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Sounds more like they are partially amazed with what you did, and they probably don''t deal with 3D programs all that much, so they are exploring and examining it.

If you added a vehicle that he could drive and go hopping over hills, he would be in a happy day.

Add some AI and some hoops and turn it into a race and he''ll be in a world all his own.

But don''t put him in Quake Arena or Descent or a game that requires a lot of key commands, or any sort of twitch game.

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Another significant thing you mentioned is "ten minutes." If you''re designing for older players -- or just anyone outside the ''core gamer'' demographic -- design for play sessions lasting 2-30 minutes. Ten minutes is probably a good average. That means if they''re not having fun in the first 10-30 seconds, they won''t play again. And it means they won''t devote hours and hours to the game, especially not in one or a few sessions.

This puts a drastically different spin on the game design; most games today would fail miserably at the "30 second test." (Note: this metric is derived from one I came up with years ago when designing UIs for software used by doctors. We called it the "3 minute 5 foot rule." If we couldn''t get the doc within 5 feet of the software (the initial impression had to be smooth and inviting) or if they weren''t feeling engaged and productive within a few minutes, nothing we did would matter. OTOH, if we could snag them in that range, generally we had them as committed users soon after. This same principle can be used with many games, especially for the mass market.)

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I think part of it may be the mind set of the older person. When you''ve seen a lot of action in real life, a mellow moment is treasured. Also, it was an easy thing for him to operate, so the tech fear aspect so many people outside of technically savvy segments of demographics wasn''t restricting his experimentation. Also, I think there was a great deal of control afforded to the user in the world, so there may have been some attraction there. Some ''fairly'' authoritative game design books have indicated control is 45% of why people like to play. And, in some ways, people who are older, and have a lot of responsibility by definition have an large amount of structured time, and this was a quick, no travel required walk in an uncluttered virtual park. There is a reason why old folks use the phrase ''a walk in the park'' to mean metaphorically more than a few things, some of them entirely unrelated, but the meaning is clear in the context it is used in. Lastly, I think it was a opportune moment to discover as aspect of gameplay we have ''detailed sceneried'' ourselves out of the opportunity to discover; older people have vivid imaginations foundated in experiences over time younger people may only logically postulate and make assumptions about, but cannot actually experience. Resultantly, they are able to visually fill in the blanks with rapidity and detail with the terrain generator of their minds.

You have discovered two important insights here. One, older player will get more enjoyment out of simpler gameworlds, easing some few complex gameworld design demands (depending on story) with perhaps the exception of game story, and two, there are tens of millions of them out there that want to play, simply because they have been exposed to, seen every type of, and have had enough of linear entertainment, and are the mythical mass market demographic segmentation (one of several actually) we all would like to be on the shipping units side of.

Good discovery, I doff my hat. Follow me without hesitation into the computer entertainment business.

Adventuredesign

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When I was in my teens, I was an avid downhill skier, but cross-country skiing was a form of torture to me. Now that I''m a fair bit older, I still enjoy downhill skiing, but cross-country is much more enjoyable as well

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